Baird among D-backs GM candidates

PITTSBURGH -- Allard Baird, the Red Sox vice president of player personnel who played a leading role in the signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, interviewed Tuesday with Diamondbacks executive Tony La Russa for the vacant Arizona general manager's position, according to a published report.

Baird is the second of GM Ben Cherington's top lieutenants to interview for a general manager vacancy this summer. Earlier this year, Red Sox vice president and assistant general manager Mike Hazen interviewed for the San Diego Padres' GM job. The Padres hired former Rangers executive A.J. Preller.

La Russa also met Tuesday with former major league pitcher Dave Stewart, while Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine has taken his name out of the running for the Arizona job, the MLB.com report said.

Stewart has emerged as the favorite for the job given his history pitching for La Russa in Oakland during the A's dynamic run in the 1980's, as well as his multifaceted experience as a player agent, pitching coach and assistant general manager, the report said.

Baird, 52, was hired by former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein as a special assignment scout in July 2006, two months after he was fired as GM of the Kansas City Royals, a position he held for six years (2000-2006).

Baird was promoted to assistant GM by the Red Sox that November, ran the team's pro scouting operations and also served as a special assignment scout. He has remained a key voice in the Sox front office and played a prominent role in the acquisition of Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford, a signing that Cherington said he also championed while serving under Epstein.

Crawford lasted less than two tumultuous and disappointing seasons in Boston before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2012, a deal that also included Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett and was widely credited for reversing the Red Sox's fortunes in 2013, when they won the World Series.

Baird has been credited both by Sox sources and Castillo's agent, Juan Perez, as being the point man in forging a relationship with the Cuban outfielder that ultimately led to the 27-year-old Castillo signing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston on Aug. 23. Castillo is scheduled to make his major-league debut Wednesday night against the Pirates.

Baird's interview with La Russa was first reported by MLB.com.