PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Diamondbacks have made 16-year major league pitcher Dave Stewart the franchise’s senior vice president and general manager.
In a restructuring of the front office under Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, the team also named De Jon Watson senior vice president/baseball operations.
Stewart called it “the perfect challenge for me.” It is a formidable task: rebuilding a team with the worst record in baseball.
“I’ve known Stew for nearly three decades,” La Russa said in the team’s statement announcing the move Thursday, “and his diverse background includes championships on the field both as a player and coach, in the front office and in contract negotiations as a player representative.”
La Russa said Watson “has great strength in player development and scouting on the amateur, professional and international levels and has played a significant role in the careers of some of the game’s best players.”
Watson comes to Arizona after eight years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was most recently the vice president for player development.
Stewart, the Diamondbacks’ fourth general manager, is the only current GM to play and coach in the majors. He is the fourth active manager who played in the majors, joining Ruben Amaro Jr., Billy Beane and Jerry DiPoto. The last person to play in the majors and coach prior to becoming a GM was Bob Watson of the New York Yankees from 1995 to 1998.
Stewart and Watson will be introduced at a news conference Friday.
Stewart, 57, brings some impressive credentials, especially as a player.
He played for La Russa for eight seasons in Oakland - from 1986 to 1992, then again in 1995.
Before going to the Athletics, Stewart pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas and Philadelphia. After his seven seasons with Oakland, he pitched two years in Toronto before returning to the Athletics for his final season. Stewart’s career record is 168-129 with 19 saves and a 3.95 ERA. He won at least 20 games in four consecutive seasons for Oakland, with La Russa as his boss. Stewart pitched a no-hitter for the A’s on June 29, 1990, at Toronto.
He was part of three World Series championship teams and was World Series MVP in 1990 and was MVP of the American League championship series in 1990 and 1993.
Before beginning a sports agency in 2002, Stewart was special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson in Oakland in 1996, then was special assistant to San Diego general manager Kevin Towers. Now he is replacing Towers, who was fired. Stewart went on to an assistant GM job with Toronto. He was pitching coach for San Diego, Toronto and Milwaukee before forming his sports agency.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy success as a player and coach and really enjoyed my time representing players, but this is the perfect challenge for me,” Stewart said in the Diamondbacks’ news release. “To try and put together the pieces of a championship team is something I can’t wait to begin and I could not be more excited about doing it with De Jon and alongside a Hall of Famer who I respect greatly in Tony.”
Watson, 48, held several positions in the Dodgers organization, and he worked with players Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon, among others.
Watson has 29 years of baseball experience, including serving as director of professional scouting for Cleveland and director of scouting for Cincinnati.
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