Veteran infielder Todd Frazier opts out of deal with Pirates

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PITTSBURGH –  Todd Frazier won’t be a Pittsburgh Pirate after all.

The two-time All-Star infielder has opted out of his contract, making him a free agent. The 35-year-old signed a minor-league deal in February that included a clause allowing him to opt out by March 25.

Frazier hit .250 with three home runs in 12 spring training games for the Pirates but appeared to be the odd man out with the season opener looming next week. Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton called Frazier “a good player” but said finding a spot for him on the bench might have been difficult if the Pirates carry 14 pitchers into the regular season.

“If we do take 14 pitchers, then versatility is going to be really important and I think that kind of led to our decision,” Shelton said.

Frazier signed with the expectation that he could platoon with Colin Moran at first base and even fill in at third – where he was an All-Star for Cincinnati in 2014 and 2015 – if needed. Yet Wilmer Difo and Phil Evans offer more position flexibility for Pittsburgh.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.