Former GM Towers to scout for Yankees
National League veteran will evaluate pro players, amateurs
TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the first calls Kevin Towers made when his employment status changed was to a very familiar number, but this time the former Padres general manager wasn't looking to float an idea or trade proposal.
The voice on the other end of the line was Brian Cashman, and Towers was wondering whether there were any positions open in the Yankees' front office. Months later, the alliance was officially announced, as Towers joined the defending World Series champions as a special assignment scout.
"To me, the most important thing was aligning myself with good people," Towers said. "Cash is not only one of the best GMs in the game, but a good friend as well. Aligning yourself with the New York Yankees, I can't think of a better organization to align yourself with."
Towers was dismissed by the Padres during the final weekend of last season after serving 14 years as their general manager. He will be used by the Yankees to scout professional and amateur players, as well as evaluate New York's Minor League system.
Cashman said the San Diego-based Towers would work closely with Billy Eppler, the club's senior director of pro personnel, and Damon Oppenheimer, the club's vice president of amateur scouting.
Both have already expressed interest in using Towers' expertise as soon as possible, Cashman said.
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"I'm excited to add what I consider a really good baseball man here to our organization," Cashman said. "One thing that I think we've tried to do over the last number of years here is continue to add quality baseball people. I'm looking forward to utilizing Kevin. He's got a great scouting eye."
There will be a learning curve of sorts for Towers, who will be trying to become more familiar with the American League and the way the Yankees do business. But he adds a wealth of experience in the National League, which Cashman said would be an exciting addition.
"He's going to have a lot more intimate knowledge about personnel in that league that can augment what we already have," Cashman said. "It's an automatic great cross-check for us. When you have someone as knowledgeable and connected in this game as Kevin is, with the experience, relationships and ability to scout, we're excited that he's joined us."
After scouring the bargain bin to work under the Padres' lower payroll, Towers said it will be a drastic change to call himself a Yankee.
"Certainly it'll be a different pool of players that I'll be focusing on," Towers said. "In San Diego, the months of November and December were trade months. We just weren't able to be real competitive in the free-agent market. Our free-agent season was usually in late February, just whoever was left over.
"If anything, I might be able to bring to Cash a pool of players that I focused on that they probably didn't focus on. I might be able to find that diamond in the rough that comes via trade or waiver claim. That's kind of how we put our clubs together."
Cashman made sure to point out that although he enjoys a strong personal relationship with Towers, this arrangement has the Yankees in mind.
"Everybody knows that Kevin and I are the best of friends, but I'm not in the business of hiring friends," Cashman said. "This is all about business. I've got a lot of friends. I just don't hire everyone. He's here for professional reasons to make us better."
Towers' deal with the Yankees is for one year, an agreement he had hinted at strongly during the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, saying that he had a good idea of where he wanted to go.
Towers joked that his blood pressure has taken a serious dip since he made his last phone call as a GM, and said that he will not seek any other positions in baseball until at least November.
"I really don't know what I want to do beyond this year," Towers said. "Right now my focus is on helping the Yankees any way I can. I broke into this game as a scout, learned on the job about managing people, media and ownership. I'm really looking forward to getting back to doing what I do best, and that's evaluating talent."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.