While details of the deal remain unknown, the Pittsburgh Pirates have extended the contract of manager Derek Shelton
Entering the season the Pittsburgh Pirates had a decision to make about manager Derek Shelton. Well, it appeared that way at least. We also know now what the decision is by general manager Ben Cherington and the Pirate front office.
2023 was the final season on the initial four-year contract that Shelton signed when he was hired to be the team's manager on November 27th, 2019. This made the 2023 season a contract year for Shelton.
Well, Saturday afternoon news broke that the Pirates and Shelton had agreed on a contract extension. Very little is known about the terms of the extension, other than that it will keep Shelton under contract with the organization through at least the 2024 season.
In his first three seasons as Pirate manager Shelton owned a poor 142-242 record. The Pirates finished in last place in the National League Central in each of his first two seasons, before finishing in fourth place last season.
Extending a manager with Shelton's record may seem like an odd move, but it was an obvious move to make. Unless the Pirates got off to a putrid start to the season that potentially led to an in-season firing, a Shelton extension was all but guaranteed to be announced.
Cherington stated that the extension is one that the two sides had been working on since spring training, so, odds are, even with a woeful start to this season an extension would have been done. However, with the Pirates off to a strong start and playing the best baseball of the Shelton Era this move becomes much easier to announce.
This season is by far the most talented roster Shelton has had during his time in Pittsburgh and it has led to success on the field. Shelton and his staff have helped to create a tremendous clubhouse culture. Even last season, the Pirates would often times fight and battle in games which speaks volumes to the culture that Shelton had in place.
Shelton was put in a terrible position when he was hired as the team's manager. Cherington was in the process of stripping down the Pirate roster, beginning to blow things up in the early stages of their rebuild.
No manager is going to win baseball games in that situation. During his time as manager Shelton has also shown growth in his in game decision making and managing of the pitching staff. Combine these factors with his leadership skills and the clubhouse culture he's created, and Shelton deserves the opportunity to manage the Pirates when they have a chance to compete. This contract extension helps that happen.