The Arizona Diamondbacks are making some big changes.
Since watching the MLB team struggle last year, front-office executive Tony La Russa didn't feel he could walk away from the Arizona organization despite the fact that the club got rid of his handpicked general manager Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale.
"I would have been haunted by that season," La Russa said. By looking at the numbers, the MLB team made a complete turnaround in 2017 flipping their record from 69-93 to 93-69 and in the process captured the top National League Wild Card spot.
Thus, when his contract is coming up and expiring at the end of this month, La Russa felt like this was the right time to move on.
"Grateful is best word to use," La Russa said. "I'm grateful that the new leadership whether it would be on the field or upstairs produced that kind of turnaround."
If you recall, La Russa was hired by the D-backs in May of 2014 to the newly created position of chief baseball officer. Whiling doing his duties in that role, La Russa was in charge of baseball operations. After the 2016 season, he was shifted to chief baseball analyst while the team hired Mike Hazen to be its general manager and oversee baseball operations.
"Tony's contributions have played a significant role in helping put our franchise on the path to success, and for that, we are all very grateful," D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick said. "He has always represented the team with class and has left a mark on the franchise that will benefit us for years to come."
It should be noted that La Russa, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 for his distinguished managerial career, retired from his position as Cardinals manager after winning the 2011 World Series. This is when he decided to go work Major League Baseball under chief baseball officer Joe Torre before the D-backs hired him.
"I would like to thank Tony for all of his contributions to our baseball operations and our community during his time here," D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall said. "Having his Hall of Fame credentials, vast experience and knowledge of the game as resources to rely upon and learn from has been tremendous. The transition to the new leadership team has been smooth and flawless with his willingness and positivity. I will forever value his hard work and our friendship."
"The best part about it is one of the reasons I'm leaving is because these guys are so good," he said of Hazen and his staff. "Because they're really good downstairs and upstairs, it's time to move on. I'm glad for the Diamondbacks that that's the truth, because that makes for some exciting times ahead. I think the organization is in great hands."
La Russa went on record by saying that he had already received some calls from interested teams and would evaluate where he might best be able to help a club.