In sad news today, it has been reported that former Dbacks GM, Kevin Towers, passed away at age 56. Per Bob Nightengale:
Kevin Towers, one of the greatest people this game has ever known, and the ultimate fighter, has passed away from cancer. Unbelievable. He will be greatly missed. Loved that man— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 30, 2018
Towers was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer in December 2016. This is a rare form of thyroid cancer that is known for being aggressive and resistant to cancer treatment.
Towers was a former baseball player. He was a pitcher at Brigham Young University and was taken first overall in the 1982 MLB Draft January Secondary Phase by the San Diego Padres. Towers pitched for 8 years in the Padres farm system, including being a Texas League All-Star in 1984, before arm injuries ended his playing career in AAA.
But all was not lost for Towers. He became a pitching coach for the Spokane Indians (San Diego Padres low-A affiliate) from 1989-1990 and a scout for the Pirates from 1991-1993. In 1993, he rejoined the Padres as Scouting Director.
Things quickly changed for Towers. In 1995, he became the GM for the San Diego Padres, succeeding Randy Smith. Under Towers tenure, the Padres won the division 4 times and reached the World Series in 1998, where they were swept by the New York Yankees. Towers served as the Padres GM for 14 years until he was fired in 2009 after back-to-back losing seasons.
On September 22, 2010, Kevin Towers was hired to be the General Manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He quickly made several moves, including trading for Zach Duke, trading Mark Reynolds for David Hernandez, and signing JJ Putz, as the Dbacks came out of nowhere to win the NL West with a 94-68 record, a massive 29-game swing from the 97 loss 2010 season. Things certainly looked positive for the team going forward.
Unfortunately, the next few seasons did not go as well for Towers and the Dbacks. The Dbacks missed the playoffs in Towers remaining three years in the desert, winning 81 games in both 2012 and 2013 before a disappointing 67-95 record in 2014. During the 2014 season, the Diamondbacks hired on Tony La Russa to oversee Towers and on September 5, 2014, removed Kevin Towers as GM. Towers was offered another position in the organization, which he declined.
After his firing from the Dbacks, Towers went on to the Reds organization as a scout and special assistant to the General Manager, Walt Jocketty.