The acquisition of a new club manager promises to be the first order of business on the schedule of new Pirates GM Ben Cherington, but it appears as if the Pittsburgh exec may be given a bit of a running start from an HR perspective. Cherington is apparently happy with the work done by Pittsburgh staffers in search of a manager to this point and may simply re-interview several of the club’s existing candidates, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman of MLB Network (link).
The Pirates reportedly interviewed Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clapp, Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson, and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro for the job earlier in the offseason before their search was “paused” with the ouster of former GM Neal Huntington. Interestingly, Heyman also indicated that Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister, former Pirates third base coach Joey Cora, and Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay also interviewed with the club this offseason. Cora’s name is a new entry into public knowledge of the proceedings; Bannister and Kotsay were know to be under some consideration, but it wasn’t clear whether they had interviewed.
Besides being a former player and the older brother to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the 54-year-old Cora carries previous experience as the manager of Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliate in 2016. He has served as the club’s major league third base coach and infield coach since being hired in advance of the 2017 season. Bannister would also represent something of a familiar face to Pittsburgh fans, as the former Rangers manager has recently served the club in both bench coach and special advisor capacities.
If familiarity is key to Cherington’s hiring process, however, it may appear that Kotsay and Shelton would have something of an advantage. Kotsay spent time as a player with the Red Sox when Cherington was a Boston exec from 2008 to 2009, while Shelton was a coach with Toronto in 2017 while Cherington was a Jays VP. Further helping matters for Kotsay and Shelton may be Heyman’s indication that both were among those to interview “very well” for Pittsburgh’s managerial opening earlier this offseason (link).
Regardless of which direction the club goes with regard to their managerial search, it appears that Cherington will be doing so without the aid of Kyle Stark, who was relieved of his post as assistant GM today. The club’s announcement of Stark’s exit continues a general house cleaning that has followed a rather bizarre 69-93 campaign in the Steel City. Stark, who had served as the club’s assistant GM since 2007, will join Huntington, former team president Frank Coonelly, and former manager Clint Hurdle as a recent departee of the Pittsburgh organization.