Diamondbacks director of player development Josh Barfield is expected to leave the D’Backs for a new job in the White Sox front office, according to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and Steve Gilbert (X link). Barfield will step into the role of assistant general manager, under newly-hired Sox GM Chris Getz.
Barfield isn’t the only newcomer to Getz’s staff, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via X) reports that the White Sox have also hired Brian Bannister for a role in pitching development and Gene Watson for a player development job. Bannister has worked as the Giants’ director of pitching since December 2019, while Watson was an assistant GM and VP of Major League scouting with the Royals.
Fans may know the 40-year-old Barfield best from his playing career, as he appeared in 309 Major League games with San Diego and Cleveland from 2006-09. He continued playing in the minors and in independent ball until 2013, and then started his post-playing career as a scout with the D’Backs in 2016, moving his way up the front office depth chart until assuming his current role during the 2019-20 offseason.
Bannister is another former player, tossing 667 1/3 innings with the Mets and Royals from 2006-10. (Notably, Getz and Bannister were teammates in Kansas City in 2010.) Since retiring, the 42-year-old Bannister worked from the Red Sox from 2015-19 in a variety of roles, ranging from scout, to assistant pitching coach, to a more analytical front office position as a director of pitching analysis and development. This led to a similar position in San Francisco, as Bannister worked in a uniformed on-field role except in 2022, when league rules didn’t permit Bannister to participate in his coaching role because he wasn’t vaccinated.
Watson also has some past Kansas City ties to Getz and Bannister, as Watson has worked for the Royals for all but one season from 2006-23, as Watson worked for the Angels in 2021. A longtime scout and evaluator, Watson has also worked with the Padres, Braves, and Marlins during a career that began back in 1997. Watson has been interviewed for GM jobs in the past, including the Angels’ opening in 2021 that eventually went to Perry Minasian, though the Halos were impressed enough to still hire Watson away from K.C. for an advisory position.
The three hires bring some fresh voices into the White Sox front office, giving Getz (who has been working for Chicago since 2016) some different perspective as he embarks on his first stint running a baseball operations department. Getz’s promotion continued the criticism that the Sox organization is too insular in its thinking, but today’s hires act as something of a counter to the idea that the White Sox are set in their ways. Barfield and Bannister, like Getz, are younger executives with past playing experience who perhaps have a bit more of a modern analytical approach to player development, whereas Watson brings some old-school scouting knowledge into the fold.