Pirates' GM Job is Ben Cherington's if He Wants It
According to a report from Jason Mackey at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben Cherington has likely been offered the position as the next Pirates general manager. The report comes after both Cherington and Brewers assistant GM, Matt Arnold, interviewed for a second time in Pittsburgh this week.
Cherington, who is currently serving as the Blue Jays' VP of baseball operations has had a history of declining GM positions. Since he left his post as GM of the Red Sox, he's been in the discussion as a possible replacement for departing front office heads. His response to those inquiries, thanks, but no thanks.
Cherington was being considered for both the vacant Mets and Giants' GM positions last year, but withdrew his name from consideration. It's interesting that he passed on two big market, high-spending teams early in their process, but has entertained the prospect of the same role with the Pirates this long - all the way to the point we are expecting an announcement in a matter of days.
His preference is to take an opportunity that will afford him the ability to rebuild a team from the ground up. So, while the Mets and Giants may have money to spend, the Pirates may offer him something they don't - time.
Jobs in New York and San Francisco come with expectations. You need to build a winner in a similar fashion Cherington did with the Red Sox in 2013 when he completely re-tooled a bad lineup and made them champions in a single off-season. That type of turn-around is exceptional, but in big markets it's the expectation. When you spend $60 million in a single off-season, as Cherington did, fans (and owners) expect results.
That approach worked for Cherington for a season, but he later found it wasn't sustainable. Just a year removed from building a 100-win champion, the Sox found themselves at 72 wins and, once again, looking to Cherington for answers. When those answers did not result in immediate results, Boston wanted to move on.
Perhaps Cherington learned something from his time in Boston. Maybe he learned that the high-pressure, big market mentality that many Pirate followers covet isn't his brand. A job in Pittsburgh doesn't come with the pressure that the Mets and Giants would have put upon him. He doesn't need to win right away. The Pirates are coming off a 69-win season, and if you polled the fan base, 2020 won't be much better. So, Cherington would have time to build something from the ground up - to create a pipeline of players rather to constantly have to go to the well of free agency.
Ben Cherington's desire to stack his own deck, rather than being at the mercy of the dealer is a mentality that should be attractive to the Pirates. That's the only way it can be done in Pittsburgh. A Pirates' GM need not worry about the burden of spending $60 million in a single winter, and if there is a candidate out there that would prefer he doesn't have to, we'd be lucky to have him.
Update: According to Jon Heyman, friends of Ben Cherington expect him to accept the postion. Mackey reports that an announcement could be made on Monday.
Update: Jason Mackey has reported that Cherington has accepted the offer - making him the next Pirates' GM. Here's our take.
Follow Jared on Twitter: @a_piratelife