Chris Herrmann
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Astros claim Chris Herrmann off waivers from Mariners

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The Astros started to replenish their options behind the plate on Friday after claiming Mariners catcher Chris Herrmann off waivers. Herrmann will join Max Stassi on the 40-man roster, as both Martín Maldonado and Brian McCann have officially entered free agency.

Herrmann, 30, picked up a minor league deal with the Mariners at the start of the 2018 season. He was called up from Triple-A Tacoma in late May and appeared in just 36 games with the team over the course of the year, during which he batted .237/.322/.421 with two home runs and a .743 OPS in 87 plate appearances. While he spent the majority of his 2018 campaign behind the dish, he’s proven fairly versatile in the past and logged time in the outfield as well as first base.

Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, joining the Astros is a dream come true for the veteran backstop, who originally hails from Tomball, Texas. “I’ve always been an Astros fan since I was a little kid, watching Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman,” Herrmann told reporters on Friday. “Brad Ausmus was one of my favorite catchers; this is really cool.” McTaggart also notes that the Astros will continue to search for more catching depth this offseason, perhaps targeting the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto or the Royals’ Salvador Perez. Pending the qualifying offer he received from the Dodgers on Friday, Yasmani Grandal may be another option, too.

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.