The Pirates are ready for change. Again.
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette heard from “several internal sources” this weekend that the Bucs will cut ties with manager John Russell soon after the offseason hits. GM Neal Huntington, though, is thought to be safe.
Russell’s contract runs through 2011, but the Pirates have 104 losses this season and could wind up with 105 if things don’t go well in Sunday’s regular season finale against the Marlins. Barely any of the poor play can be blamed on Russell, but this is professional sports. Major League Baseball is a what have you done for me lately kind of place. The captain must go down with the ship. Pick your cliche.
Russell offered some words of optimism after Saturday’s game when asked to review the 2010 season, highlighting the play of youngsters like Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen. It won’t be enough to save his job, apparently, but Russell is right — there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Pirates.
Russell currently stands 186-298 as a manager and will probably struggle to find a head job in the near future.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.