Reds “are prepared to trade” Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake

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Not exactly shocking news, but Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Reds “are prepared to trade” both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake.

That’s been the assumption with both pitchers headed to free agency after the season and it’s why I included Cueto and Leake in my article earlier this week about the best starting pitchers likely to be available at the trade deadline.

Cueto is a legit ace and one of the truly elite starters in all of baseball, whereas Leake is a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. It’s possible Cincinnati could look to maximize their return by packaging both pitchers in the same trade, trying to entice a contending into giving up a top-50 prospect as part of the haul for a pair of two-month rentals.

No word yet on what the Reds plan to do with All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman, who unlike Cueto and Leake is also under contract for 2016.

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.