Indians president Mark Shapiro expects to sign a closer soon

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Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports that Indians president Mark Shapiro expects to sign a new closer soon. After releasing Chris Perez at the end of October, the Indians are currently without a closer and prefer to bring in one from outside rather than promote Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw.

Hoynes writes that the Indians have reportedly made a two-year offer to Joaquin Benoit and have also targeted John Axford, Grant Balfour, and Fernando Rodney. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports clarified, saying that the Indians are focused on Axford. Axford was non-tendered by the Cardinals as he was expected to make close to $5 million in arbitration. Since an impressive 2011 season with the Brewers which put him at the back end of NL Cy Young balloting, the right-hander has posted a 4.35 ERA in 134.1 innings.

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.