D-backs hire Stewart to be general manager
Watson named senior VP of baseball operations for Arizona
PHOENIX -- Dave Stewart officially became the D-backs' fourth full-time general manager Thursday, while De Jon Watson was hired for a key role in the baseball operations department.
Both men will report to chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, with Stewart holding the title of senior vice president and general manager, and Watson as senior vice president of baseball operations.
Given the dual hire, it appears Stewart's focus will be on the Major League roster and contract negotiations, while Watson will focus on player development and scouting, areas he had been involved with in his previous role as assistant general manager of the Dodgers.
"I am excited to be able to bring in two talented and uniquely qualified individuals as part of our front-office leadership team that I feel will improve our organization," La Russa said in a statement. "Our various strengths blend well with more than a century of experience in different areas of the game, and we will work together to get this team moving in the right direction."
The pair will be introduced to the media in a news conference scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. MST. It will be aired live on MLB.com and dbacks.com.
Stewart becomes just the fourth current general manager to have played in the Major Leagues, joining the Angels' Jerry Dipoto, the Phillies' Ruben Amaro Jr. and the A's Billy Beane. He is the only current GM to have played and coached in the big leagues. Stewart is the only African-American general manager in baseball at this time. Two African-Americans oversee baseball operations for their clubs: Kenny Williams, White Sox, and Michael Hill, Marlins.
"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 a statement. "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."
Stewart, 57, has a diverse background in baseball, having been a successful Major League pitcher, then a pitching coach and an assistant GM. In 2002, he started Sports Management Partners and became a successful player agent representing, among others, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
Given his longstanding relationship with La Russa, who managed him with Oakland, Stewart had been regarded as the front-runner since his name first surfaced as a candidate. La Russa has expressed in the past how impressed he has been with Stewart's background.
"I've known Stew for nearly three decades, and his diverse background includes championships on the field as both a player and coach, in the front office and in contract negotiation as a player representative," La Russa said.
Stewart won 168 games over a 16-year career, and he won at least 20 games in four consecutive seasons from 1987-90.
Stewart was a part of three World Series championships, with the Dodgers in 1981, the A's in '89 and the Blue Jays in '93.
Known as a big-game pitcher, Stewart was named the MVP of the 1989 World Series and both the '90 and '93 ALCS.
Prior to becoming an agent, Stewart worked in the Oakland A's front office as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson in 1996, then was a special assistant to general manager Kevin Towers with the San Diego Padres in '97. He then went to the Blue Jays, where he was assistant general manager from '98-2001 and had the added responsibility of overseeing both player development and scouting in '01. Stewart also held the position of pitching coach with the Padres ('98), Blue Jays ('00) and Milwaukee Brewers ('02) before leaving for the private sector.
Watson, 48, played for five seasons in the Royals organization before joining the Marlins as a scout. He was the Reds' scouting director from 1998-2000 and the director of professional scouting for the Indians from 2004-06 before joining the Dodgers.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to be a part of a very special team that Tony has put together," Watson said in a statement. "I could not pass up the chance to be part of a dynamic working group and impact this organization in a way that helps us improve the way we compete, with a goal of playing October baseball."
In his most recent role for the Dodgers, Watson was responsible for developing and evaluating all players in the organization's system as well as appointing Minor League managers, coaches and instructors. He also oversaw the team's Latin American player development and served as an advisor to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on 40-man roster moves and acquisitions.
During his time overseeing player development, the Dodgers have had several All-Stars reach the Major Leagues, including Clayton Kershaw, Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon.
"De Jon has great strengths 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," La Russa said.
La Russa spoke with nine candidates in addition to Stewart, including Watson, Allard Baird, Larry Beinfest, Billy Eppler, Gary LaRocque, Thad Levine, Ray Montgomery, Hal Morris and Tim Purpura.
Former GM Kevin Towers is likely to stay on with the organization in some capacity given his longstanding relationship with Stewart, but nothing has been set yet.
There had been reports that Montgomery would receive a promotion, but as of Thursday morning, that had not yet happened. Club officials have made it known that they think very highly of Montgomery, who is the team's director of scouting.