Mariners release Kelly Shoppach

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Seattle released Kelly Shoppach after designating the veteran catcher for assignment last week.

Shoppach was let go when the Mariners called up last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Mike Zunino, from Triple-A to take over as the starting catcher.

Shoppach hit just .196 in 35 games for the Mariners, but he’s always been stretched when asked to play regularly and is much better suited for a part-time role focused mostly on starting against left-handed pitchers. For his career Shoppach has hit .261 with an .856 OPS versus lefties compared to .204 with a .656 OPS versus righties, so it shouldn’t be surprising if he’s back in the majors soon with another backup gig.

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.