Pirates sign A.J. Burnett to one-year, $8.5 million deal

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Last offseason A.J. Burnett left the Pirates for the Phillies, but after a rough season in Philadelphia he’s going back to Pittsburgh.

Burnett has signed a one-year deal with the Pirates worth $8.5 million, which is significantly less than the $12.75 million player option he declined to leave the Phillies.

Burnett had a fantastic two-season run for the Pirates in 2012/2013, starting 61 games with a 3.41 ERA and 389 strikeouts in 393 innings, but he went 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 starts for the Phillies.

At age 38 he’s certainly no sure thing to bounce back, but for $8.5 million and a one-year commitment a reunion with Burnett makes a lot of sense for a Pirates rotation that may lose free agents Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez.

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.