Blue Jays vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington has established himself as the favorite in the Pirates’ search for a general manager, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Multiple sources have informed Mackey that the Pirates have offered the position to Cherington and are waiting to hear if he’ll accept the job. Whether Cherington or someone else gets the role, expectations are Pittsburgh will “announce a move of some sort on Monday,” Mackey writes.
Cherington is one of four known candidates for the post, joining Pirates assistant GM Kevan Graves, Astros AGM of player development Pete Putila and Brewers AGM Matt Arnold. Graves has been the Pirates’ interim GM since they fired Neal Huntington last month, but even if they don’t promote him, he’s likely to stay in the organization, Mackey suggests.
Should Pittsburgh tab Cherington as its GM, it’ll be getting someone with experience in that capacity. The 45-year-old is best known for his hit-and-miss tenure as Boston’s GM. Cherington succeeded Theo Epstein after the 2011 season and stayed on until his firing in August 2015. The Red Sox did win a World Series in that span (in 2013), but they stumbled to sub-.500 records in each of the other three seasons. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk previously noted, big-money Cherington signings such as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were black marks on his time with the Red Sox, though cornerstones Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez did develop when he was running the show.
While Cherington had a large payroll at his disposal with the Red Sox, that won’t be the case if he joins the Pirates. Pittsburgh’s perennially a low-budget club, one that opened 2019 with a payroll below $75MM. The lack of financial flexibility helped doom Huntington, whose days with the Pirates ended after four straight non-playoff seasons. With that in mind, the Pirates’ next GM is definitely in for a challenge, though that may make the job more appealing to Cherington. He has reportedly bowed out of previous GM searches because of an interest in rebuilding an organization from the ground up.