The Pirates have fired manager Clint Hurdle, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Hurdle had two years remaining on his current contract.
As Rosenthal notes, general manager Neal Huntington will retain his position spearheading the organization’s baseball operations. Meanwhile, the coaching staff will be determined by the incoming manager.
The move comes as something of a surprise, as just days earlier Hurdle himself asserted that the Pirates assured him that he’d keep his position as the club’s manager. However, later that day both Hurdle and Huntington were curiously noncommittal on the future of the skipper.
Hurdle, 62, was installed as the Pittsburgh manager prior to the 2011 season and finishes his Pirates career as the fourth-winningest manager in franchise history. He’s led his Pirates teams to an overall 735-720-1 record in his nine years at the helm, including three consecutive postseason appearances from 2013-2015. The team peaked with 94- and 98-win seasons in 2013 and 2015, though they were unable to make it out of the Division Series in that three-year stretch—and, in 2014 and 2015, they were eliminated in the one-game playoff.
Not far removed from that stretch of success, this season has been an especially trying one in Pittsburgh. After winning 82 games a year ago, the club has taken a step backwards and will have a final chance today to reach the 70-win plateau. Between a clubhouse altercation involving Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez, numerous on-field brawls, and a suspension to Keone Kela for a confrontation with a coach, it would seem that the clubhouse has escaped Hurdle’s control.
Whether he’s at fault for those off-field issues is questionable, but the on-field results haven’t done Hurdle any favors. His Pirates found themselves just a game under .500 at the All-Star break, but proceeded to hit a colossal cold spell en route to a 4-24 stretch into mid-August.
Pittsburgh will join the Giants, Padres, and Cubs among the teams now with a vacant manager position. It seems that wholesale changes to the coaching staff may be in order, with pitching coach Ray Searage among those with an uncertain future. Huntington issued the following statement regarding the decision:
Words cannot express how much respect and appreciation I have for Clint as a person and a leader … We will be forever grateful for his dedication to the Pirates organization on and off the field … As an organization, we believe it was time for a managerial change to introduce a new voice and new leadership inside the clubhouse.