D’Backs acquire third baseman Chris Johnson from Astros

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From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart comes word that the Astros have acquired offensive prospects Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss from the Diamondbacks for third baseman Chris Johnson.

At first glance, it’s another crafty deal for Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. Johnson had a nice showing in his first real chunk of major league playing time back in 2010, but the 27-year-old owns a .314 career on-base percentage and he doesn’t play great defense.

Borchering, meanwhile, has slugged 61 home runs in his first 394 major league games. The 21-year-old third baseman and corner outfielder was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. Krauss, a second-round pick in that ’09 draft, has a .924 OPS and 15 homers in 434 plate appearances this year in Double-A. He has a slugger’s profile.

Johnson will take over as Arizona’s primary third baseman. Ryan Roberts was recently traded to the Rays.

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.