La Russa set to trim list of GM candidates

D-backs' chief baseball officer may have finalists meet club brass soon

La Russa set to trim list of GM candidates

PHOENIX -- D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa is getting closer to cutting his list of general manager candidates down to a few finalists, according to baseball sources.

The first round of discussions involved 10 candidates, including Allard Baird, Larry Beinfest, Billy Eppler, Gary LaRocque, Thad Levine, Ray Montgomery, Hal Morris, Tim Purpura, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson.

As La Russa stated when he began the search to replace Kevin Towers, some of the names on his list received interviews, while he planned on having conversations with others to see if there was mutual interest.

For instance, a baseball source said the D-backs requested and were granted permission to talk to Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, and he and La Russa did speak. Eppler, however, declined to take part in a formal interview because of his commitment to the Yankees.

Eppler told La Russa that he interviewed for the Padres' GM vacancy earlier this season because he is from the San Diego area, but he otherwise did not plan on leaving the Yankees for another job.

La Russa could complete the first round of talks by the middle of the coming week, then bring in the finalists to meet with D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall and managing general partner Ken Kendrick, as well as other front-office personnel.

Stewart and LaRocque have been perceived as front-runners, given La Russa's history with the pair, but La Russa is said to have been impressed with a number of the candidates after getting a chance to spend some time with them.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.