Sources: Padres fire GM Towers

SAN DIEGO -- Kevin Towers, the longest-tenured general manager in the major leagues, has been fired by the San Diego Padres, sources confirmed Friday night to ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney.

The Padres said CEO Jeff Moorad will address the media Saturday afternoon. Moorad didn't return a phone call, e-mail and text message seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Towers, in his 14th season as Padres GM, told the AP in an e-mail that he couldn't comment on his situation. He is under contract through next season at approximately $2 million.

Under Towers, the Padres won four NL West titles and reached the 1998 World Series, where they were swept by the Yankees.

The Padres are 74-85. Coming off a 99-loss season in 2008, they have rebounded with a strong final two months, thanks in part to moves by Towers. Since July 28, they are 36-23, fourth-best in the major leagues in that span.

Moorad leads a group that is buying the team from John Moores. Moorad has spoken about making changes in the baseball operations department.

Although it might seem curious that Towers is being fired while the club is rebounding from its slow start, Moorad apparently wants his own person in the job.

Moorad already reorganized the business operations, eliminating approximately a dozen key positions on July 23, including two vice presidents.

Padres manager Bud Black said he hadn't heard about Towers being fired.

"Let's talk about the game," Black said after the Padres' 7-2 loss to San Francisco. "If that's the case, let's give it its due course. If that does happen, we'll talk about it."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, San Diego's manager for 11 seasons under Towers, was shocked to hear the news.

"I'd like to get some more information before I make any comments," Bochy said. "Obviously, Kevin and I have a long history and a great relationship. He's done a great job. If that happens, I'm stunned. I feel awful for him. But I'd like to hold back comment until I know more."

Early speculation on a successor centered on Paul DePodesta, the former Dodgers GM who has been with the Padres since July 2006. He is in the first year of a three-year contract believed to be worth $800,000 per season.

Another possible candidate is Randy Smith, a former GM with the Padres and Detroit Tigers who is the Padres' director of international scouting.

Moorad was CEO of the Diamondbacks until pursuing the purchase of the Padres in January.

After the 2005 season, Towers interviewed for the vacant Diamondbacks GM position, but the job went to Josh Byrnes.

A former pitcher, Towers blew out his right elbow and never made it above Triple-A. He was a first-round pick of the Padres in the June 1982 draft.

Towers was promoted from scouting director to Padres GM in November 1995 after Smith left for the Tigers.

He built contenders in the mid-1990s by acquiring slugger Greg Vaughn and pitchers Kevin Brown and Sterling Hitchcock. He also twice acquired Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

The Padres won division titles in 1996 and '98, and 2005 and '06. They missed winning the wild card in 2007 after losing a 13-inning tiebreaker game at Colorado.

Towers was an adept trader and known for making do with tight player payrolls. On July 31, he saved the Padres $56 million by trading ace Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for four pitchers.

He once commented that he's a "sludge merchant," able to move unproductive players with big contracts for more productive players.

In one of his biggest trades, Towers acquired All-Star right-hander Chris Young and All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a six-player deal with Texas in January 2006.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.