Kevin Towers has been fired as general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in a move that had been expected by many observers.
The Diamondbacks announced Friday morning that Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa would begin interviewing new candidates for the GM job "effective immediately." Towers has been offered a position within the Arizona organization "and is currently evaluating the opportunity."
La Russa, the Hall of Fame manager who came out of retirement to take the Diamondbacks job four months ago, released a statement explaining Towers' departure.
"Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to evaluate all aspects of our baseball operations and have decided to restructure our staff in order to improve our decision-making process," La Russa's statement said.
The Diamondbacks began the 2014 season with hopes of competing for the National League West title, but began Friday in fourth place with a 59-81 record.
Lefthanded ace Patrick Corbin required Tommy John surgery before the start of the season. But the team was also hurt when several of Towers' trades and free agent signings that failed to pan out.
Last offseason, Towers acquired powerful first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo from the Angels as part of a three-team deal that cost Arizona starter Tyler Skaggs and centerfielder Adam Eaton. Trumbo has posted just a .691 on-base plus slugging percentage in 67 games, missing significant time due to injury. Meanwhile, the lefty Skaggs has a 4.30 ERA in 18 starts for the Angels and Eaton is batting .310 with a .377 on-base percentage for the White Sox.
Towers also gave free agent starter Bronson Arroyo a widely-panned two-year, $23.5 million contract. Arroyo only made 14 mediocre starts before needing Tommy John surgery, however.
Towers traded starter Brandon McCarthy and infielder Martin Prado to the Yankees in July, getting back middling starter Vidal Nuno and prospect Peter O'Brien, a power-hitter with on-base and defensive deficiencies.
In 2013, Towers traded starter Ian Kennedy to the Padres for relievers Matt Stites, who has struggled, and Joe Thatcher, who's now with the Angels. Kennedy, meanwhile, has flourished in San Diego, posting a 3.75 ERA in 29 starts this season.
Towers biggest deal, however, occurred in January 2013, when he sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves for a five-player package, including the now-departed Prado. Upton has been worth 6.6 Wins Above Replacement and hit 53 home runs the past two seasons and Chris Johnson has grown into a steady replacement for Atlanta icon Chipper Jones. As for the Diamondbacks return, Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed and Zeke Spruill have barely sniffed the majors, Prado is gone and Randall Delgado has been ineffective.
The Diamondbacks finished 81-81 in both 2012 and 2013. They haven't reached the playoffs since a 94-68 2011 season, Towers' first at the helm.
Towers was the GM of the Padres from 1995 until he was fired in 2009. During the interim between his Padres and Diamondbacks careers, he served as an adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.