The Pittsburgh Pirates are still looking to fill their manager void. Even with a new General Manager, the team is still considering some of the same candidates.
Heading into the offseason, Pittsburgh Pirates fans were under the assumption that the team would be looking to find a new manager and pitching coach. Instead, after a few weeks of interviewing managerial candidates, the team saw their now former president step away. This was followed up by the hiring of new president Travis Williams.
Once Williams was brought on board it only opened up even more questions for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Williams decided it was time to move on from Neal Huntington and some of his front office staff. The team put the manager interviews to the side until they found a new General Manager.
The Bucs now have a new General Manager in Ben Cherington. Cherington is reportedly going to pick manager interviews back up and is considering both previously considered candidates as well as looking into his own potential ones. It has been reported that Cherington felt like the previous regime looked into a lot of the right people so this new regime will not have much work left to do.
According to Jon Heyman, the two candidates that are continuing to be considered are the two that were considered the front runners before the front office change over. Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the team is still very interested in potentially hiring Twins’ assistant Derek Shelton and former player and now Athletics bench coach Mark Kotsay.
"Heyman’s Tweet on Shelton: “Twins bench coach Derek Shelton is among those getting an interview for manager with new Pirates GM Ben Cherington, so he should be considered a very serious candidate. Cherington was said to be impressed with the Pirates’ original list.”Heyman’s Tweet on Kotsay: “Mark Kotsay also remains in the Pirates manager mix. Like Derek Shelton, who remains in as well, he had been interviewed by the just-deposed Neal Huntington. There may be other holdovers as well as some newcomers but Kotsay/Shelton are 2 of the contending candidates.”"
Both still make a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates and even Ben Cherington. Shelton has interviewed for multiple managerial jobs this offseason but has missed out on a couple mainly due to the teams picking a “bigger name” candidate (Mets: Carlos Beltran). He is obviously considered to be an up and coming manager.
Also, he has spent a lot of time working in smaller markets and with young players. Shelton worked for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010-2016 as Joe Maddon‘s hitting coach. He also worked in the Blue Jays organization, a team that is in the midst of a youth movement. Then, this past season he put together one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history with a young Minnesota Twins lineup.
A lot of the same can be said about Kotsay as well. First and foremost, Kotsay was a solid player during his playing days. He was a good all-around hitter and played all three outfield positions as well as first base, giving him well-rounded experience. Furthermore, he was a bench coach for the Padres in 2015 and has been a part of the Athletics coaching staff since 2016. Oakland obviously shares a lot of parallels with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization being a smaller market team that needs to build through the farm system.
The last note is that both candidates are familiar with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ new General Manager. Ben Cherington was with Toronto in 2018 when the Blue Jays brought in Derek Shelton as a bench coach. Cherington was part of Boston’s front office when Kotsay spent two years playing for the Red Sox. Cherington is likely is very familiar with them at this point which could lead to a decision sooner than later and maybe as soon as this weekend.
UPDATE: Jon Heyman tweeted late last night: “Belief is Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro is still in Pirates mix. So it seems to be Shelton, Quatraro and Kotsay in the lead group, though there could be others.”