Toronto Blue Jays Vice President of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington has emerged as the Pirates’ No. 1 choice to become their next general manager, multiple sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday.
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports here that multiple sources have informed him that the Pirates have offered the position to the 45-year old Ben Cherington, and are waiting to hear if he’ll accept the job.
Three sources said Cherington has been offered the job, and the club was awaiting his decision. Two more sources were unsure whether a formal offer had been made, but said Cherington was certainly the preferred choice.
Cherington was one of four known candidates, 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.
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Cherington obviously has an interesting resume as Boston GM from 2011-15, including helping to build the Red Sox World Series Champion team in 2013, although he resigned from Boston in August 2015 after Dave Dombroski was hired as VP of baseball operations. His Red Sox teams finished in last place in the AL East in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
He was hired in September 2016 to collaborate with Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins as VP of baseball operations in Toronto, with responsibility for player development. Given the success of players he either drafted, signed or helped to develop in Boston, including Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Andrew Benintendi, as well as the young core developed here in Toronto of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Nate Pearson, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Pirates have interest.
The low-budget Pirates opened 2019 with a payroll of $74.8 million, but Spotrac has them committing $62.1 million at present using MLBTR’s estimates for arbitration salaries. Assuming no non-tenders, and that closer Felipe Vazquez’s $5.75 million contract is voided due to pending criminal charges, plus $6-7 million for the pre-arbitration players on the 26-man roster, the incoming GM might have approximately $30 million in additional salary budget if owner Bob Nutting is willing to return an Opening Day payroll that was over $90 million each season from 2015-17 according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.