9:04pm: Jeff Banister was among those the Pirates laid off, Mackey tweets. Banister was once a player and coach in the organization, but he most recently worked as a special assistant in their front office. He’s better known around the game for his run as the Rangers’ manager from 2015-18. Banister also interviewed for the Astros’ managerial vacancy during the offseason, though that job went to Dusty Baker.
5:34pm: The Pirates are making sweeping changes in both their business operations and baseball operations departments, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Upwards of 25 members of the business operations team were laid off yesterday, and as many as 15 members of the baseball ops team were let go Friday, he adds via Twitter.
Some of the employees who were cut loose were already on furlough and have now been told they won’t return. Those who were let go will keep their benefits through at least Oct. 31 and receive severance packages, per Mackey. The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel reports (also via Twitter) that the 15 baseball ops personnel who were let go will be paid their salaries and retain their benefits through Oct. 31 as well. Names aren’t known at this point, although Biertempfel adds that scouting director Joe DelliCarri and farm director Larry Broadway remain on staff.
Broad-reaching organizational changes are common following a front-office shakeup, and that seemed particularly likely to be true in the case of the Pirates. Owner Bob Nutting cleaned house after the 2019 season — albeit in somewhat odd fashion. Manager Clint Hurdle was dismissed just days after publicly stating that he’d been assured he would return in 2020. Longtime pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Tom Prince were ousted, too. A search for a new skipper began, headed up by GM Neal Huntington … until Nutting fired Huntington nearly a month into the interview process.
Along the way, president Frank Coonelly and the club “mutually” agreed to part ways. Travis Williams took over as team president, Ben Cherington was hired to replace his friend and former Indians colleague, and the club ultimately settled on Twins bench coach Derek Shelton as its next manager.
The road taken to get to the end result was rather bizarre, but it was abundantly clear that Nutting felt dramatic change was necessary. That’s now trickled down into the operations department. The COVID-19 pandemic surely played a role in the mass layoffs, but substantial turnover always stood out as a possibility.