The Pirates have not discussed an extension with manager Clint Hurdle, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “How long will I go? I don’t know the shelf life,” says Hurdle. “I just know that I’m still engaged. I love what I do, I love who I’m doing it for, and I love who I’m doing it with. I’ll take it one year at a time.” There’s no indication Hurdle’s job is in danger, and he’s signed through 2017 with an option for 2018. Interestingly, though, Biertempfel notes that whenever Hurdle’s tenure with the Pirates does come to an end, there’s a good chance he could be replaced internally, with new bench coach and former Double-A skipper Tom Prince as a possible replacement. “We hope Clint manages the Pirates for a long time,” says Pirates president Frank Coonelly. “But, like with any other key leadership position, we want to be sure we’re developing successors. We have a bias toward promoting from within when possible, but we also have a bias toward hiring the best person for the job. If we develop our people the right way, they’ll be the best people for the job.” The Bucs already recently did develop another top big-league manager — former Bucs bench coach Jeff Banister was the 2015 AL Manager of the Year with the Rangers. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- Four-year deals for relievers are demonstrably dicey propositions, so it’s unclear why the Cardinals committed to Brett Cecil for that long, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider only). Cecil was worth roughly $7.5MM per year (the annual value of the contract he just received) in 2013 through 2015, but it’s optimistic to expect him to be worth that several years from now, given the uninspiring histories of relievers who’ve received long-term deals (B.J. Ryan, Justin Speier, Joe Nathan, Steve Karsay, and so on).
- Cardinals fans would be unwise to read too much into the news that the team has mentioned Michael Wacha’s name in trade talks, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in a series of questions and answers about the Cards’ offseason plans. The Cardinals might simply be trying to gauge Wacha’s value, as they did in previous discussions about pitchers like Shelby Miller and Kyle Lohse.
- Law praises the Twins for dropping Trevor Plouffe, on the grounds that his underwhelming defense makes him approximately replacement level. Law says he is curious to see whether the Twins will now turn to Miguel Sano at third base, since he is heavy for the position and has not been a good defender at the position throughout his career. (UZR and DRS rated Sano around average in 376 big-league innings at the position in 2016.)
- The Twins have been in contact with free agent righty Justin Masterson, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. That’s not surprising, since new Twins head of baseball operations Derek Falvey previously worked with Masterson in the Indians organization. Masterson, formerly a solid big-league starter, had an underwhelming 2016 in the Bucs organization while fighting his way back from shoulder trouble, posting a 4.85 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings covering two minor league stops.