Last but not least there is a name that has been connected to this job multiple times – Jeff Bannister. Like Wehner and Kendall, Bannister has spent plenty of years as a member of the Pirate organization.
Bannister’s lone MLB game came on July 23, 1991, with the Pirates. The Oklahoma native was selected by the Pirates in the 25th round of the 1986 draft. After missing the 1992 season due to elbow surgery, he served as a player-coach for the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate the Carolina Mudcats in 1993. Following the 1993 season, he retired from playing and went into coaching full time.
Bannister spent time as a minor league manager for the Pirates, as well as a MLB coach on both Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon‘s staffs. When Hurdle was hired in 2010, he and Bannister were the tow finalists for the Pirates’ managerial position. When Hurdle got the job, he named Bannister his bench coach. This was a role Bannister would hold through the 2014 season.
Following the 2014 season Bannister interviewed for both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers’ managerial positions. He would get the Rangers’ job, and went on to have a lot of success. In four seasons as manager in Texas Bannister owned a 325-313 record in the regular season, and he went 2-6 in the postseason.
Under the guidance of Bannister the Rangers won the American League West in 2015 and 2016. He was also named the American League Manager of the Year in 2015. Due to his success, his firing came as a surprise to many.
After being dismissed by the Rangers, Bannister came back home to the Pirates spending the 2019 season as a special assistant in baseball operations.
Bannister would check off a lot of boxes for the Pirates. He has managerial experience, he has guided multiple teams to the postseason, he has a lot of experience with the Pirates, and he is passionate about Pirate baseball. All of that said, with all of the turmoil the Pirates experienced in 2019 their best course of action is to hire someone from outside the organization. It would not be a surprise, however, to see Bannsiter end up back on the Pirate coaching staff for 2020, even if it is not as manager.