Pirates owner Bob Nutting and new team president Travis Williams met with the media this week to discuss the organization’s direction. The team has already undergone its fair share of tumult this offseason, having fired manager Clint Hurdle and, a month later, cutting ties with general manager Neal Huntington.
Nutting and Williams were noncommittal on where the organization goes from here. Asked about the possibility of embarking on a large-scale rebuild, Nutting told reporters (including Adam Berry of MLB.com) “I think that’s a discussion with the new general manager as we chart that path forward. It is challenging to have continued success and retool at the same time as you’re focused on the field. Given where we are, with some of the young talent in the organization, we’re not in a traditional point in time to blow it up. But I do think we need to have every option on the table. There’s no question we need to have more talent throughout the organization.” That’s hardly a definitive declaration of an oncoming rebuild, but it’s interesting to hear the club reevaluating its options after reportedly not planning to shop one of its most valuable trade pieces, Starling Marté, just last week.
As Nutting indicated, the organization’s outlook will be up to whomever he and Williams tab as GM. The team president indicated that he plans to be relatively hands-off with regards off to baseball operations, as Berry recaps. Williams said his role in the organization is to surround himself with quality baseball minds, while limiting himself to “oversight and some checks and balances.” Kevan Graves has taken over as GM on an interim basis, and while Berry notes that some in the industry consider Graves to be a potential GM someday, there’s no indication the organization plans to turn things over to him permanently just yet.
Who is in consideration to replace Huntington? That’s still largely up in the air, of course, given how recently the club moved on from their longtime GM, who was involved in the hiring process for manager up until his own dismissal. Myriad names have trickled out, with Berry (in a separate piece) and Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic identifying some early candidates. Interestingly, both name Blue Jays senior VP of player personnel Tony LaCava and Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold as options, echoing earlier reports.
Meanwhile, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter) adds former Orioles GM Dan Duquette to the list of people whom the organization has looked into. Duquette shepherded Baltimore between 2011 and 2018, overseeing one of the most successful clubs of the first half of the decade before the organization hit the skids in 2017. While there, he worked with former Pirates senior director of player development Brian Graham, whose contract with the Orioles expires this week. Graham tells Biertempfel he’d be interested in returning to Pittsburgh in some capacity, perhaps even as GM. While the front office has completely been reshaped since Graham’s time in the Steel City, Nutting remains as owner and surely has final say on all hiring decisions.
The organization clearly remains very much in flux, with little certainty likely to emerge until they settle on a new baseball ops leader. Whomever they choose, he or she will their work cut out for them trying to regroup after a dismal 69-93 season, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explored in his Pirates offseason outlook.