David Ortiz lobbied for the Red Sox to sign Nelson Cruz

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In a column for WEEI, John Tomase reports that Red Sox DH David Ortiz lobbied for his team to sign then-free agent slugger Nelson Cruz during each of the past two off-seasons. Heading into 2015, Cruz was coming off of a season in which he led the majors with 40 home runs while driving in 108 runs and hitting .271/.333/.525.

Cruz, now 35, wound up signing a four-year, $57 million deal with the Mariners. He’s currently the major league leader in home runs with 36, having knocked in 74 runs and compiled a .321/.389/.611 triple-slash line.

Cruz described Ortiz’s efforts to bring him to Boston:

“He was all in,” Cruz recalled this weekend. “Anytime we played, he reminded me that he wanted me here. It meant a lot. I’m a fan of him, and also a good friend. When a player like him, a future Hall of Famer, requests for you to play with him, it’s definitely something that grabs you.”

Cruz said the Red Sox never contacted him about a potential deal.

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.