Former D-backs GM Dave Stewart regrets trading Dansby Swanson, calls firing unfair
Former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart will be mostly remembered for his trades than for the results of a disappointing 2016 season.
Chief among the highly-criticized deals he made was the trade of No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson, outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to Atlanta for pitcher Shelby Miller.
Stewart heard the criticism when it happened and still hears it now.
And funny enough, he might agree with it. It’s just not Miller’s disappointing 3-12 season and 6.15 ERA in 2016 that has Stewart feeling regretful.
“I would probably say I should have stuck to my gut — although I think Shelby Miller is going to be everything I thought he was going to be when I traded for him,” Stewart said Wednesday on MLB Network Radio. “But my gut that whole time said I should not move Dansby Swanson.
“I’m not saying that as an afterthought,” he added. “That was my thought throughout the whole negotiation, and I ended up giving into it and letting, in my opinion, let a good player get away. You know, if anything, maybe substitute him for another player. That might be the one thing that I probably wish I could have a redo.”
After Stewart was fired, he admitted that he and Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick got along like “oil and water” and said he was even relieved to be fired.
On Wednesday, Stewart admitted he didn’t feel his firing was justified, especially considering he was working under chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, president Derrick Hall and Kendrick. Stewart said he felt like he took much of the blame for Arizona’s struggles.
After months away from leading the D-backs’ front office, he believes he got a “short stick” and didn’t get an opportunity to prove himself as an MLB executive.
“I had to deal with three people above me, which makes it real, real difficult to do your job,” Stewart said of La Russa, Kendrick and Hall. “Even in the end, after the season, I think I would get what I call a tie-breaker season.
“We had a good (2015) season coming in, last year was not a good season — we did have injuries but I wasn’t using that as an excuse, neither was Chip Hale, injuries are part of the game — but I thought that I would have an opportunity in the third season and come back and see what would happen if we were a healthy team.”
Since being fired, Stewart has returned to his job as an MLB player agent that he had prior to his D-backs appointment. He said he’s happy to be his own boss.
Asked by the MLB Network Radio hosts if the Diamondbacks made the right moves by revamping the structure of the new front office led by general manager Mike Hazen, Stewart admitted he thought he should have been afforded a similar opportunity — to lead himself.
“I think after having conversations with Derrick (Hall), during the period of time I was doing the job, I think what would’ve been fair would be to step out of it while I was still there to see how I would do under different circumstances versus the circumstances that I was working under,” Stewart said. “I think that would have been the fair way to do it. And then, if I wasn’t doing the quality of work they were expecting, then make the change.
“That, in my opinion, should be the solution versus having me work under those circumstances, and then pretty much taking the blame for it — a lot of the negatives that happened with that ball club when it was a group decision, not just a solo decision, not just a single decision by me.”