Carl Pavano’s “decision expected Monday or Tuesday”

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General manager Bill Smith said this afternoon that re-signing Jim Thome won’t keep the Twins from also bringing back Carl Pavano, telling Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “We’re very optimistic, very hopeful of bringing Carl Pavano back to this ball club.”

Christensen reports that Pavano “is taking the weekend to think about the Twins’ final offer, with a decision expected Monday or Tuesday.”

And in the meantime Thome plans to do some recruiting to help convince Pavano to re-sign.

Minnesota’s competition for Pavano is unclear, as Washington general manager Mike Rizzo downplayed the Nationals’ interest and the Brewers dropped out of the running after trading for Zack Greinke. Pavano can surely get a one-year deal from several teams, but the Twins may be the only team–or at least the only contending team–offering him a two-year contract. He’s been the top free agent starting pitcher on the market since Cliff Lee signed in mid-December.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.