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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Archie Bradley, rhp|
|2. Braden Shipley, rhp|
|3. Aaron Blair, rhp|
|4. Yasmany Tomas, of/3b|
|5. Touki Toussaint, rhp|
|6. Jake Lamb, 3b|
|7. Brandon Drury, 3b/2b|
|8. Pete O’Brien, c/1b|
|9. Domingo Leyba, 2b/ss|
|10. Nick Ahmed, ss|
For a team on its way to the majors’ worst record at 64-98, following two straight .500 seasons, it came as no surprise that the Diamondbacks contemplated significant changes as the 2014 season wore on.
The biggest splash came in May, with the announcement that Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa was joining the organization in a new role of chief baseball officer. He had been working in the commissioner’s office since retiring as the manager of the Cardinals after the 2011 season. After taking most of the summer to evaluate the organization, La Russa’s first major move was the removal of Kevin Towers as general manager, a post he’d held since 2010.
La Russa hired his former ace with the Athletics, Dave Stewart, as the new GM on Sept. 25. Stewart had worked as assistant GM with the Blue Jays but had been an agent since 2001.
Manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were fired just before the end of the regular season, and A’s bench coach Chip Hale will take over as manager.
A University of Arizona product and former big leaguer, Hale had been the D-backs’ third base coach from 2007-09 as well as previously managing in their minor league system. Former D-backs infielder Andy Green, who managed at Double-A Mobile in 2013-14, was named bench coach.
The makeover continued throughout the front office. La Russa hired De Jon Watson, previously the Dodgers’ farm director, as senior vice president of baseball operations. Scouting director Ray Montgomery, who had been one of the internal candidates for the GM job, later left the organization to accept the same position with the Brewers.
Arizona hired Nationals special assistant Deric Ladnier to replace him. The former Royals scouting director will direct the organization’s efforts as they pick No. 1 overall in 2015 for the first time since taking Justin Upton to start the 2005 draft.
The No. 1 pick is about the only good thing produced in 2014. The organization increased payroll heading into 2014, but nearly all of its moves backfired. Free agent pickup Bronson Arroyo and 2013 all-star Pat Corbin both needed Tommy John surgery, decimating the rotation. Slugger Mark Trumbo, acquired from the Angels, missed nearly three months with a broken foot, and key pieces such as reliever David Hernandez (Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Pollock (broken hand) also missed time.
The lack of starting-pitcher depth, once an organizational strength, hurt the team more than anything. Projected future rotation members Ian Kennedy, Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs had all been traded, and No. 1 prospect Archie Bradley was not yet ready to contribute due to a flexor strain in his right elbow early in the season and command troubles when he returned.
The offseason renovations continued with the major league roster. The new front office traded catcher Miguel Montero to the Cubs, shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees (in a three-team deal) and lefthander Wade Miley to the Red Sox, adding mostly young pitchers in return, as well as second baseman Domingo Leyba from the Tigers in the Gregorius deal.