While the rest of the sport has turned much of its attention to roster decisions and other offseason business, the Pirates are still working to nail down their baseball operations leadership. It seems the process of replacing dismissed GM Neal Huntington is now reaching a culmination.
That said, there is a new name in play that hadn’t previously been known to be under consideration. Astros assistant general manager of player development Pete Putila has been involved in the search, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). Previously considered by the Giants in their GM search, Putila currently stands as one of the top lieutenants of Houston GM Jeff Luhnow.
Whether Putila is a strong candidate to take the top ops job isn’t known. It’d certainly be a big step up for an executive that had only recently ascended to an AGM title. It is at least theoretically possible he could be considered for a GM title if the Pittsburgh organization ends up hiring a top-level decisionmaker who functions as a president of baseball ops or chief baseball officer.
Most observers appear to see this as a two-horse race. Former Red Sox GM and current Blue Jays exec Ben Cherington is believed to be holding his second-round sit-down today, per Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). And it appears Brewers AGM Matt Arnold will do the same tomorrow; Robert Murray had tweeted that Arnold would get another interview.
But that’s hardly certain. Internal candidate Kevan Graves, who is currently serving as interim GM, joins Putila as additional possibilities. Graves was believed to be preparing for his own second interview at some point this week, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweeted yesterday. Graves also joined Putila as a candidate for the Giants job that ultimately went to Scott Harris.
Whoever takes the helm will need to get right to work. The Bucs have loads of needs and some very big questions to answer. In particular, the organization will have to gauge trade interest in star center fielder Starling Marte, who figures to be in quite some demand and could be cashed in as part of a retooling effort.