Mike Fontenot, who was released by the Phillies in August, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rays.
Once upon a time Fontenot looked like a solid regular, but his stock has dipped dramatically in recent years. He got a late start in the majors and then hit .291 with an .826 OPS in 205 games through his first two seasons for the Cubs, but in four years since then he’s hit just .252 with a .686 OPS in 370 games.
He has experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, but at age 32 he’ll have to hit more to have any sort of significant big-league value. Tampa Bay also re-signed outfielder Rich Thompson to a minor-league deal and odds are he’ll be teammates with Fontenot at Triple-A.
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.