Tony La Russa was hired as Chief Baseball officer by the team on May 17, and began work with a lengthy process of evaluation, which took several months. But when the ax came, it dropped fast and hard, with GM Kevin Towers being fired on September 5, and manager Kirk Gibson exiting the team just before the end of the regular season. Replacements were found in Dave Stewart and Chip Hale respectively, but those were just the most obvious of a number of changes e.g. hiring Ed Lewis to head up the team's analytics department.
The revamping of the on-field product has been little less drastic, including the signing of the biggest contract in team history, and the trades of this year's Opening Day starter, as well as the player with second-most games in franchise history. Here are the ten most significant transactions carried out since La Russa's arrival in May.
- July 5 - Traded Tony Campana and Joe Thatcher to the Los Angeles Angels. Received Zach Borenstein and Joey Krehbiel.
- July 6 - Traded Brandon McCarthy and cash to the New York Yankees. Received Vidal Nuno.
- July 31 - Traded Gerardo Parra to the Milwaukee Brewers. Received Anthony Banda and Mitch Haniger.
- July 31 - Traded Martin Prado to the New York Yankees. Received Peter O'Brien and player to be named.
- November 14 - Traded Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams to the Tampa Bay Rays. Received Jeremy Hellickson.
- November 22 - Sold Mike Bolsinger to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- December 5 - Traded Didi Gregorius to the New York Yankees. Received Domingo Leyba and Robbie Ray from the Detroit Tigers.
- December 9 - Sign free-agent Yasmany Tomas to a six-year contract.
- December 9 - Traded Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs. Received Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia.
- December 12 - Traded Wade Miley to the Boston Red Sox. Received Raymel Flores, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
I don't want to say too much about what I think at this point, for fear of prejudicing a free and frank discussion in the comments (I'll chip in there later in the day, trust me!), but I will say that La Russa, Stewart and their team inherited a fairly thankless task. The team didn't just post the worst record in the major leagues, they did so with a number of unenviable "poison pill" contracts on the books. Before getting better, perhaps the first step was to stop it from getting any worse...