Jacoby Ellsbury will make $9 million in his final season before becoming a free agent, as the center fielder and the Red Sox avoided arbitration with a one-year contract.
Ellsbury was injured for more than half the season and hit just .271 with a .682 OPS when in the lineup, which represented a 250-point drop from his OPS in a breakout 2011 campaign.
However, he was paid $8.05 million last season and arbitration is designed to hand out raises with each added year of service time. With a strong 2013 he could be in line for a huge long-term deal as a 30-year-old free agent, but obviously there are plenty of reasons for the Red Sox to be wary of locking up Ellsbury before then.
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.