Cubs pick up Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter for Junior Lake

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Rafael Soriano’s struggles put the Cubs back in the market for veteran bullpen help and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that they’ve acquired Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter in exchange for infielder/outfielder Junior Lake.

After years as an inconsistent mid-rotation starter Hunter moved to the bullpen full time in 2013 and found success, adding several miles per hour to his now mid-90s fastball and posting a 3.05 ERA and 145/37 K/BB ratio in 192 innings for the Orioles. That includes a 3.63 ERA and 32/11 K/BB ratio in 45 innings this season.

Lake has struggled in 193 games for the Cubs since debuting in 2013, hitting .241 with 16 homers, a .663 OPS, and a hideous 198/31 K/BB ratio. His numbers in the minors are a lot better and Lake has experience at every position except catcher defensively, so if nothing else the 25-year-old could develop into a useful bench player.

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.