Since the exit of longtime GM Neal Huntington on Oct 28, the Pirates have been connected to a number of respected front office figures in their search for a new head of baseball operations. Two names, Blue Jays VP of baseball operations/former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold, have been identified as two of three finalists for the position in a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post (link).
Pirates assistant GM and current acting general manager Kevan Graves was named as a candidate in a separate report from Thursday, but it is unclear if he represents the third finalist, as Sherman only names Cherington and Arnold in his report. Blue Jays senior VP of player personnel Tony LaCava and former Red Sox and Orioles GM Dan Duquette have previously been mentioned as potential hires, but it appears that Pittsburgh has begun to narrow its scope.
Arnold had been reported as a speculative fit, but this is the first time he has been definitively placed in the running. A former director of player personnel with the Rays, Arnold has been working alongside Brewers GM David Stearns in his current role since October of 2015. Both he, 40, and Cherington, 45, would represent relatively youthful-yet-experienced additions to the Pittsburgh front office, in keeping with industry-wide trends.
As noted in our Offseason Outlook piece on Pittsburgh’s club, one of these finalists will face a challenging winter when they ultimately assume control of operations. After a 69-93 season that saw the club wrought with internal tension, it remains to be seen if the new Pirates exec will opt toward a full-scale rebuild via trades involving players like Starling Marte and Chris Archer, or if a more moderate re-tooling will be attempted in search of a postseason return.