MLB rumors: Arizona Diamondbacks may clean out front office

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Diamondbacks went all-in for 2016 last offseason, and as a bad season winds down a front office shakeup may be coming.

Zack Greinke was arguably the top free agent pitcher on the market last offseason, and the Arizona Diamondbacks surprisingly signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million contract. Add that to the trade with the Atlanta Braves that landed Shelby Miller, and Arizona’s front office was clearly making big moves with an eye on contending in 2016.

Miller posted a 7.14 ERA over 14 starts before being demoted to Triple-A, and Greinke has not quite been a staff ace (4.21 ERA) while also missing a little over a month with an oblique strain. Injuries throughout the roster have been a factor, but everyone involved with the Diamondbacks obviously expected better than their current 51-73 record.

There have been questions about the job security of Diamondbacks’ general manager Dave Stewart, and rightfully so. But Bob Nightengale of USA Today has added another layer to the intrigue, with a report that Diamondbacks ownership is considering firing Stewart, chief baseball officer Tony LaRussa and assistant general manager De Jon Watson.

ESPN’s Keith Law offered a scathing criticism of Arizona’s front office just last week. Stewart and LaRussa’s general incompetence was highlighted, particularly regarding the draft and international signing rules.

Stewart and LaRussa carry serious name recognition, based on their success as a pitcher and manager, respectively. It appears Diamondbacks’ owner Ken Kendrick was seduced by that, starting with LaRussa’s hiring in May of 2014. Candidates have to be vetted for high-level front office roles beyond a perception of their credibility. Even considering a relatively short time in their jobs, tangible evidence suggests LaRussa and Stewart don’t measure up as evaluators of talent.

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In the same piece, Nightengale reported LaRussa and Stewart had two major moves voided by ownership. Talk of firing Chip Hale and replacing him with Triple-A manager Phil Nevin is not new, and a manager change after the season is inevitable even if ownership voided it recently. But a trade earlier this month that would have sent Miller to the Miami Marlins was apparently also vetoed from high-above. The reason? It wouldn’t look good after giving up so much to acquire the beleaguered starter.

There are plenty of questions over LaRussa and Stewart’s competence, and now there are signs their power to make moves has been removed. The problems in the Diamondbacks’ organization clearly start at the very top, but an owner can’t be fired and another front office reshuffle seems to be coming.