MLB Winter Meetings don’t start until next week, but the Pirates offseason has already been eventful. And with 114 days left until Opening Day, there will be a lot of changes to cover in Pirates baseball.
Each Tuesday, I’ll cover the news of the week prior to keep you updated until the Bucs kick off their 2020 campaign.
Derek Shelton Named Manager
Last Wednesday, the Pirates ended their skipper search by naming Derek Shelton the team’s new manager. Most recently acting as the Twins bench coach, Shelton has also held positions as a hitting and quality control coach for the Indians, Rays, and Blue Jays.
Shelton has been a hot name in the recent years as a managerial candidate and represents a big cultural change. This is his first gig as a major league manager, but I like him growing into the role alongside the next era of young talent as the team rebuilds.
Most importantly, I like this hire because of his endorsement and appearance in this commercial I saw hundreds of times in my childhood…
Team Hires Assistant GM
As much as I like the Shelton hire, I like this move better. Yesterday, the Pirates announced the hiring of Steve Sanders as the new Assistant General Manager.
Sanders has worked with new GM Ben Cherington both in Boston and Toronto. He has been instrumental in both of those roles, especially as the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Blue Jays. In Toronto, Sanders rebuilt a barren farm system into one of the deepest, strongest prospect pools in the league. This move complements the Cherington hire and furtherly emphasizes the team’s focus on player scouting and development. Plus, he is only 31 years old and is one of the fastest rising bright minds of the game.
Yesterday, the Pirates announced a pair of moves as it was the deadline for teams to non-tender players. The Pirates re-signed utility player Erik Gonzalez for the upcoming year to play a similar role as he did last season. Additionally they non-tendered catcher Elias Diaz, making him a free agent.
The Diaz move was expected. He had a better than expected 2018 season and followed it up in 2019 poorly. He was an awful defensive catcher and his offensive numbers didn’t match the promise he showed in 2018. This move also means that the Pirates will be bringing in a new catcher to work alongside Jacob Stallings.
Gonzalez was traded for last year to be the everyday shortstop. Kevin Newman won that job and now Gonzalez will be competing for a spot on the roster as a bench utility man.
Starling Marte Trade Rumors
There isn’t any beef to these rumors yet, but I have read several articles about potential trade partners in a Starling Marte trade.
There was a report about the Mets being interested in Marte. He was then quoted in a Dominican Republic TV interview saying that he would be interested in the possibility of being traded to the Mets or another World Series contender.
In addition to the Mets, I think there are plenty of other teams who should be shopping for Marte. He is a 31 year old, five-tool player coming off a very impressive year and I imagine several teams would love to have him (and his two years of control) in their outfield.
If a move for Marte is made (it should), it would kick off the organization’s commitment to rebuilding. This will be interesting to follow in the coming weeks.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Pirates Offseason Update. Who knows what could happen next…