Central Notes: Pirates, Royals, Indians

Let’s check in on a few teams from the majors’ Central divisions…

  • A month after their season ended, the Pirates made the surprising decision to fire general manager Neal Huntington on Monday. There are already at least a few potential replacements for Huntington, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, who names Blue Jays senior vice president, player personnel Tony LaCava, Yankees scout Marc DelPiano and Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold as names who could be in the running. Whether the Pirates hire a member of that group or someone else, that person will be taking over a small-market club that has come under fire for its lack of spending. Owner Bob Nutting addressed the criticism Monday, telling Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette and others, “The idea that we are hoarding cash as a team is simply not accurate, and we will find a more compelling and complete way to make sure that that is an issue that simply is not on the table.” Newly named team president Travis Williams stated the Pirates hope to “model ourselves after” clubs in similar markets that have been able to consistently succeed despite financial disadvantages.
  • The Royals “will be as aggressive as payroll will allow” when it comes to addressing their bullpen this offseason, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com writes. Left-hander Jake Diekman, whom the Royals traded to the Athletics in July, could be one target for Kansas City, per Flanagan. Diekman enjoyed his time in KC, which is close to his native Nebraska, and will wind up back on the free-agent market if the A’s go the expected route of buying out his $5.75MM mutual option for $500K. Diekman’s control totally failed him in Oakland this season, but the hard-throwing 32-year-old was at least a legitimate source of strikeouts as a member of the Royals, with whom he posted a 4.75 ERA with 13.6 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 across 41 2/3 innings.
  • The Indians have promoted Brian Sweeney to bullpen coach, per Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com. He’ll will take over for Scott Atchison, whom manager Terry Francona dismissed earlier this month. The 45-year-old Sweeney’s a former professional right-hander who will enter his third season as a member of Cleveland’s coaching staff in 2020.

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