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Pirates sign Daniel Nava to minor league deal

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The Pirates finalized a minor league deal with free agent outfielder Daniel Nava on Friday, per a team announcement. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Nava will presumably be available off the bench or slot into a corner outfield spot alongside established regulars like Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

The switch-hitting Nava is coming off of his best season since 2014. Before losing the last month of the 2017 season to a lower back injury, he slashed .301/.393/.421 with four home runs and 1.1 fWAR in 214 plate appearances for the Phillies. His extreme splits make him an intriguing pinch-hitter option: against righties last year, the 34-year-old mashed an impressive .341/.423/.474 in 156 PA.

Recent comments from Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggest that Nava could platoon with fellow outfielder Jordan Luplow to start the season, though they haven’t yet ruled out another free agent or trade acquisition this offseason. No. 1 prospect Austin Meadows is expected to help the team in the outfield at some point in the near future, but as MLB.com’s Adam Berry points out, he could use more seasoning in Triple-A Indianapolis before making a full-time transition to the majors. Assuming Meadows stays on track, Nava could find himself relegated to a pinch-hitter/fourth outfielder role before too long.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.