Heyman: D-backs GM Dave Stewart follows La Russa, defends Ziegler trade

Jul 21, 2016, 3:39 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart talks to the media during a press conference intr...
Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart talks to the media during a press conference introducing new pitcher Zack Greinke, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

An anonymous MLB general manager told reporter Peter Gammons he didn’t understand why Arizona traded closer Brad Ziegler to the Red Sox for a (subjectively) small return of two very young prospects.

The executive came to the conclusion that Arizona passing over (subjectively) better trade options for the Boston deal “had to be” Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski’s relationship with D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. And unsurprisingly, such an assumption upset Arizona’s front office leader.

La Russa isn’t the only one bothered that his integrity was questioned.

D-backs general manager Dave Stewart spoke with TodayKnuckleball.com’s Jon Heyman and also defended Arizona’s decision-making to trade their veteran pitcher for prospects Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe.

To be clear, we’re talking decision-making by Stewart himself.

Anyway, several people say that GM Dave Stewart is actually the one who did the deal with Dombrowski, not La Russa, and that in fact Stewart does the dealing.

Stewart said his staff does a lot of work on the recommendations, then he did the deal and took it to his higher-ups (La Russa, plus president Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick). Stewart also said La Russa doesn’t tell him what to do. “I take full responsibility.”

According to Heyman, the D-backs’ attempts to deal Ziegler came down to trade proposals from Boston and the Texas Rangers, who have deep farm systems.

… (Stewart) said some teams only have one or two prospects they liked, and he was loath to ask for those very-top players. He also said he’s surprised by the dealings of some teams, noting that some of their styles don’t match up with his.

Arizona reportedly first targeted Red Sox pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, but Boston wanted to retain the right-hander for an eventual trade to San Diego in exchange for the Padres’ Drew Pomeranz.

As for the timing of the deal, two factors weighed heavily.

The most obviously is that Boston needed the trade well before the deadline because closer Craig Kimbrel had just gone down with an injury. And from a logistical standpoint, the agreement had much to do with personalities between the negotiators, who were described by Heyman as being “straight-forward.”

“With other organizations it’s like pulling teeth,” Stewart said. “They’re trying to get something for nothing.”

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Heyman: D-backs GM Dave Stewart follows La Russa, defends Ziegler trade