The Pirates coaches were fired for loyalty issues

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The Pirates’ firings of pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho yesterday was not a garden variety “we suck and need to shake things up” move. According Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette, it was a move initiated by manager John Russel as a direct result of those guys having some chain-of-command issues:

According to multiple accounts Sunday, Russell’s call was motivated by a
perceived lack of loyalty, though Russell declined to discuss any
specifics. Several players and others inside the team described scenes
on recent road trips to Texas, Oakland and St. Louis where Kerrigan and
Varsho either were openly critical of Russell or having mini-meetings
with some coaches or players away from Russell.

Not that recently, as the road trips to Texas and Oakland took place between June 22nd and 27th, but the point is clear. As is the point that Russell — being given the OK from Neal Huntington and top brass to carry out the move — has no small amount of job security in Pittsburgh. Which is interesting. I can’t remember the last time a Pirates manager seemed like anything other than a cipher. Probably Leyland.

Anyway, be sure to click through to Kovacevic’s piece, as it has a long discussion of not only the firings, but of Kerrigan and Varsho’s perceived problems in the clubhouse, as well as a look at their replacements, Ray Searage (pitching coach) and Jeff Banister (bench).

Braves sign Jacob Lindgren to one-year deal

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 29:  Jacob Lindgren #64 of the New York Yankees watches Brett Lawrie #15 of the Oakland Athletics round the bases after he hit a home run in the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum on May 29, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.

Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.

In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.

While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).

Report: Mark Melancon is fielding several four-year, $60+ million offers

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Free agent closer Mark Melancon is entertaining at least two offers in the four-year, $60+ million ballpark, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The teams thought to be in the running are the Giants and Nationals, with the Giants having a slight edge due to their strong interest in him last summer (per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick).

Crasnick also said that while the Giants are keeping tabs on the top three free agent closers this winter, the other two being Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, they’re leaning toward Melancon as a (slightly) more affordable option in the ‘pen. It’s worth noting that Melancon would not cost the Giants a draft pick if they decided to sign him.

Melancon had an outstanding season in 2016, nearly reaching career-best numbers with a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 5.42 K/BB rate in 71 1/3 innings split between the Pirates and Nationals’ bullpens. The veteran right-hander earned his third career All-Star distinction after stifling opposing hitters with a 1.23 ERA and 7.9 K/9 rate in the first half, and went on to appear in his fourth consecutive playoff run.

Despite the Giants’ apparent lead in the bidding for Melancon, Rosenthal mentioned a third mystery team who might throw their hat in the ring as well. No clubs have been name-dropped as of yet.