Report: Tony La Russa opts to remain with D-backs in advisory role

Oct 16, 2016, 1:10 PM | Updated: 1:14 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, right, talks to the media during a press...
Arizona Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, right, 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)

Former Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa has decided to remain with the franchise in an advisory role under new executive vice president and general manager Mike HazenMLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reported the news Sunday as the team announced the hiring of Hazen, the former Red Sox general manager.

The decision follows the D-backs’ firing of general manager Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale on Oct. 3. Hired by La Russa, the duo spent two seasons on the job and led Arizona to a 148-176 record.

Before the firings, La Russa met with Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick and discussed taking on a new, non-decision-making role. Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro reported Oct. 3 that the team offered to retain La Russa in such an advisory role.

The former leader of the D-backs’ front office leader will report to Hazen and will “have a voice in the room, weigh in with ideas and opinions,” but not be the ultimate decision-maker, according to Gambadoro.

Hazen, meanwhile, will report to D-back CEO and president Derrick Hall.

La Russa was initially hired by Arizona in the summer of 2014. Though he had no front office experience, the 72-year-old was a four-time manager of the year with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, and had won three world series.

The Diamondbacks finished 69-93 in 2016, 10 games worse than the previous season despite the $206.5 million contract inked with ace Zack Greinke and the trade for No. 2 starting pitcher Shelby Miller that highlighted the failures of the La Russa-led front office.

Other criticized moves under La Russa’s leadership included the signing of Cuban pitching prospect Yoan Lopez for $8.25 million — and a 100 percent tax for going over the allotted international bonus pool — who twice in the past two years tried to leave the minor leagues altogether, and the addition of outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a $68.5 million deal.

Tomas hit 31 home runs with 83 RBI in 2016 but due to his defensive deficiencies closed with a value of -0.4 wins above replacement player.

Arizona was also criticized for gutting the farm system over the last two years, trading away first-round draft pick Dansby Swanson and top pitching prospect Aaron Blair in the trade for Miller, plus 2014 first-round pick Touki Toussaint in a contract dump of reliever Bronson Arroyo’s contract.

There were some successes under La Russa.

The D-backs’ deal last summer to acquire Jean Segura for veteran Aaron Hill, back-end starting pitcher Chase Anderson and prospect Isan Diaz was heavily-critiqued but went in Arizona’s favor as Segura became just the second Arizona player to eclipse 200 hits for a single season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

FILE - Chase Field sits empty after the Colorado Rockies decided not to play their baseball game ag...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks claim former Orioles pitcher Zack Burdi off waivers

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Thursday they have claimed pitcher Zack Burdi off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
12 days ago
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 01: Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks signals from the ...
Arizona Sports

D-backs’ Lovullo ready to fill critical roles on coaching staff

D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo spoke with media about how he plans to fill the team's pitching, hitting and bench coach positions.
17 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on ...
Kevin Zimmerman

D-backs to prioritize more power bullpen arms, grinding hitters

Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen believes more power in the bullpen and more grinding hitters at the plate can help turn his team around.
18 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo (17) argues with umpire Chad Whitson, left, during the t...
Arizona Sports

D-backs make multiple coaching changes to start offseason

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo retained his job with a one-year extension, but his staff is not moving forward in the same framework.
18 days ago
San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler returns to the dugout after the national anthem before a bas...
Associated Press

Padres fire manager Jayce Tingler after midseason collapse

The San Diego Padres have fired Jayce Tingler a season after finishing second in voting for NL Manager of the Year.
20 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta, right, douses Diamondbacks' Josh VanMeter (19) after VanMeter'...
Associated Press

Diamondbacks clinch No. 2 pick in MLB Draft after going 52-110 in 2021

The Diamondbacks finished with a 52-110 record in 2021, tying the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in the majors.
23 days ago
Report: Tony La Russa opts to remain with D-backs in advisory role