SAN DIEGO -- The Kevin Towers era as general manager of the Padres officially ended Saturday when the Padres announced that the longest-tenured GM in the Major Leagues wouldn't return in 2010.

Towers, who is under contract for next season for close to $2 million, has held the job in San Diego for the last 14 seasons.

"We found ourselves at a challenging spot with our general manager situation with one year remaining on his contract. We had to make a decision to extend him or to make the decision to move on and make a change at this point," Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said in a press conference at PETCO Park.

"Kevin has had a terrific run in San Diego. I applaud his accomplishments. We believe he's left the club in a really good spot moving forward."

Moorad said he had already interviewed three potential candidates and hopes to have a new general manager on board in the next few weeks.

One rumored candidate is Jed Hoyer, the assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Moorad indicated he has no plans to interview anyone from his former team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, where Jerry DiPoto, the vice president of player personnel, has been a finalist for recent openings in Seattle and Washington.

Moorad, who expressed dissatisfaction with the Padres' scouting and player development side, said there were no internal candidates.

"This isn't so much about what Kevin didn't do as opposed to what we'd like to do going forward," Moorad said. "We're interested in approaching the business in all aspects with a strategic mindset, one that involves the idea of putting our thoughts and plans together, both short term and long term."

Moorad said he talked to Towers about three weeks ago and told him there would be a chance the team would make a change at the top. Moorad officially told Towers he was going in another direction with the GM job Friday.

"I was stunned at first. I speculated that it was more about [getting] their own guy," Towers said.

Towers, 47, was named the Padres' seventh general manager on Nov. 17, 1995. Over parts of 14 seasons, the Padres went 1,107-1,160 under his guidance, reaching the postseason four times and winning the second National League championship in club history during the 1998 campaign, the only time the Padres appeared in the World Series under Towers.

"It's been a pretty good run, 47 years, never cut, released or fired," Towers joked during his press conference. "I'm a Padre at heart. Next year, I'll be rooting for them."

Towers has presided over a team this season that has already won 11 more games than last season. The team is 36-24 since July 28 and has been infused by the play of several young players, like shortstop Everth Cabrera, pitcher Mat Latos and outfielders Kyle Blanks and Will Venable.

"I probably enjoyed this year as many as any year," Towers said. "It's a fun group to be around. I would have never envisioned where we're at today."