Pittsburgh Pirates Announce Extensions for Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have signed four-year extensions with General Manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle, both running through the 2021 season. We heard yesterday about the reported agreement with Hurdle, and Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this summer that both Huntington and Hurdle would be extended. Huntington was hired late in 2007, while Hurdle has managed the team since 2011.

Owner Bob Nutting, President Frank Coonelly and Huntington each commented on the new deals:

Nutting

“I am enthusiastic to have both Neal and Clint continuing to lead our baseball operations,” Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting said. “While we all know that there is still much work to be done and goals to accomplish, we have made a tremendous amount of progress under their tenures. I believe that Neal and Clint continue to be the right leaders to push us forward in our goal of bringing Postseason baseball back to Pittsburgh.”

Coonelly

“I am extremely pleased to be able to announce that Neal and Clint will continue to be Pirates for at least the next four years. Both men are selfless leaders who have made us a far stronger organization, both on and off the field,” said Coonelly. “Neal and Clint have embraced the challenge of building a winner in Pittsburgh and have been critical to the success that we have had here to date. We have much work to do to reach the heights that our fans deserve. I am excited to continue to work with Neal and Clint to help bring a World Series championship back to Pittsburgh.”

Huntington

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to work for and with such a quality group of professionals,” Huntington said. “We recognize that we have unfinished business. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to accomplish our organizational goals and to return a World Series championship to Pittsburgh.”

We will have more thoughts on the deals shortly.

  • I think I’m going to throw up……

  • If at first you don’t succeed try try again.

  • I have no issues with the NH and CH extensions (although 3 would;ve been a lot better).

    I DO have issue with Nutting being extended as owner for the next 40+

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    September 5, 2017 3:43 pm

    Well, so much for any meaningful and positive change occurring in the near future….the Pirates apparently are satisfied with and reward incompetence…..so, SRod, Hudson, and Jaso will all likely be back in 2018 – blocking more deserving prospects – and who knows, maybe they keep Stewart and keep Diaz in Indy until he is 30?

  • i wish they wouldve just exercised Huntington’s 2018 option.

    It wouldve perhaps encouraged a little bit of short-term urgency, whereas a 4 year deal might keep them in “no mans land”

    • i can’t think of a time when the pirates had more promising prospects in the majors and knocking on the door in AAA and AA. it’d be tough to cut bait now that it looks like they figured out something in the drafting/developing. but i just want to see some damn urgency to win and i’m not convinced Neal has it.

  • Maybe not the most popular decision in Pittsburgh but it was probably the right one, for now at least. I’m not sure an overhaul of the management would necessarily change the direction of the franchise. These guys have shown they can build a competitive team and in the landscape of MLB that’s about all you can ask for. The question is now, what will they do next? What is the next “innovation” (if any) that this group will come up with to stay ahead of the curve and find the next “edge” on the competition?

    If there isn’t something like that that can have an impact on results immediately, then it’s either bulk up for next season, or tear it all down and prepare for a long rebuild.

    • i think the easiest innovation would be figuring out how to draft and develop at a well-above-average rate. getting players for 500k in their first 3 yrs in MLB is a pretty great market inefficiency.

      what “big data” could they apply/gather to figure out what 8th round high schoolers become major leaguers most often? that’s what they have to figure out.

      as far as big step changes in understanding what leads to wins at the major league baseball? i bet we’re pretty close to being out of big innovations there. famous last words.

      • This is really the only method the teams like KC, Oakland and Pittsburgh
        have had to find success for some time. There is still the
        international market and it will be interesting to see what impact there
        is because of the CBA changes last year and the intl’ spending caps.

        I agree with your last point as well. I’m beginning to feel like Moneyball is dead.

  • Honestly, I think it’s the right move, as long as they sit down and talk about an actual committed direction for next year moving forward. My vote would be one year all-in in 2018, and a hard sell if it doesn’t work out. Get an impact infielder and do what needs to be done to build a shut-down bullpen. The rotation will likely be fine if the bullpen doesn’t blow leads and the offense can actually score runs consistently, but if that’s going to happen, they need to pour money into each.

    If they don’t intend to go all in, they need to deal Cutch, Nova, and Cole in the off-season, and try to build a new team gradually around what’s left.

    I think Huntington is savvy and Hurdle is good with his players, but I’m not sure they’re on the same page with how the team should be run.

    • The duration, though?

      What relevance does 4 years have here, and how often is a GM given the opportunity to tear down the same club he built?

  • justinblain1996
    September 5, 2017 3:04 pm

    All though Hurdle could make some better managerial decisions at times , both Neal and Clint have done good jobs. If Neal got more money to work with he could put a better roster together and make Hurdles job easier to manage.

  • Todd, I agree. With Hurting an no salary cap or floor in MLB, the Buccos will never win

  • Where can I find a roster for the fall instructional league?

  • Not to nitpick here but they all talked about bringing a World Series to Pittsburgh except for Nutting. He simply said “Postseason” .. i think sometimes those kinds of statements speak volumes even if it was an error or oversight.. it says everything about what’s important to him and on his mind.

  • Start drinking early today, Tim et al. Gonna be a long one.

  • wooo extensions. how fun.

  • Terribly sad day for anyone who loves the Pirates.

    • Was it a sad day when this same GM and same Manager led you to 3 straight winning seasons? To the likes of which were not seen in Pittsburgh for 20+ years?

      • It’s sad if we’re satisfied with that, yes.

        In that three-year span, the Pirates didn’t win a single division title and only advanced past the wild card round once. After 20 years of abject failure, we were thrilled to finally be relevant again. But don’t mistake relevance for success.

        In 2015, the team won 97 games but was one-and-done in the postseason. Rather than trying to bridge the game between themselves and the teams that actually did compete in the World Series, the Pirates sat on their hands.

        As a result, we’re two years into what could well be our next 20-year losing streak.

        No one’s saying Clint and Neal don’t deserve credit for bringing the team back from oblivion. But in sports, you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backwards, and the Pirates are clearly moving backwards right now.

        And by rewarding the two most visible architects of that decline, ownership is sending an unmistakable message that failure is an acceptable outcome.

        • Here here. Agree 100%. Whatever this leadership team did to get to the playoffs, they’ve lost. Bad drafting, indecision, penny pinching, lying to and disrespecting the public. They are clearly going backwards at this point. 2018 might stem the tide (although I temper my hopes) but after that with Cutch gone, Cole probably traded, JayHay gone, still no 3B, etc it’ll be a continued slide or hanging in the middle with no particular direction.

          • Correct on all points. The Huntington fans would have been OK with a decade long extension because of the 2013-15 success. Success that had very little to do with development of young talent. If anyone thinks NH is signing the next 2018 Russ Martin or Frank Liriano I have a bridge to sell them.

            • Really cannot be stated enough how incredible his offseason was heading into the 2013.

              He added 10 WAR to the 2013 club alone and 35 WAR over the duration of their combined team control through just Martin, Liriano, and Melancon. Incredible!

              MLB veterans and Littlefield players got those ’13-’15 clubs to where they were.

              • Correct. This whole narrative Tim is spinning that this is 2012 all over again is unmitigated nonsense. Not only did he hit the lottery on those FA signing, Cutch was a 7-8 WAR player in his prime. Our entire 2018 outfield might not outproduce peak Cutch by much.

              • So Littlefield gets credit for drafting players, but NH doesn’t get credit for filling in gaps w savvy veteran signings and trades (Burnett)?

                And CH deserves no credit for getting most out of them either?

                What a bunch of shit you’re selling today NMR!

                • What in the world are you talking about, Scott?

                  You’re so incredibly defensive that you forgot the meaning of words?

                  Incredible is a *good* adjective. I used it twice!

                  Take a deep breath and relax, your boy Neal is safe.

                • CH has never gotten the most out of anyone

    • What’s sad is the Pittsburgh sports fan. For some reason they care more about the Owners wallet than the players wearing the uniform.

      They stand on some moral high ground saying they refuse to go to games and give money to Owner. Yet refuse to realize this only serves to reduce future payroll expense. Which will result in likelihood of more losing seasons.

      I got news for you, Nutting is still going to be wealthy whether you go to games or not. He doesn’t need you. But the players deserve and need fan support to win games.

  • As long as we have Nutting as owner this team will not win

    • As long as MLB is a league with no cap, and this team is in Pittsburgh, this team will not win. The owner is somewhat arbitrary, unless you get someone who REALLY doesn’t care about losing money to win (good luck). Which, in my opinion, is an indictment of the league more so than the owner, that they’ve established a system where lower-revenue markets basically have to lose money to compete. Ridiculous and unsustainable IMO, given that analytics and draft strategy are no longer a small-market advantage, and large market clubs have the best of both worlds now. Get ready for 10 years of Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox championships.

      Note that this is NOT a defense of Nutting, but rather pointing out an even more fundamental problem with the system.

      • Basically nails it. Regardless of how much money any of us think he should be spending, it pales in comparison to what the large market teams can spend.

      • Exactly.

      • sure a team can win with a low payroll. they just have to have a ton of good players on pre-arb contracts or figure things out about the game before other teams do.

        they did the latter very well from 2013 to 2015 (finding pitchers, shifting, ground balls, framing, blah blah blah.)

        the rest of the league figured that stuff out by 2016. That advantage is gone.

        now the pirates have to figure out a way to draft and develop at an above-average rate. players being cheap when they reach the majors is a market innefficiency that’s built into the CBA. It’s there for the taking.

        they haven’t done that *yet* (as their 2008 draft was just okay, their 2009 draft was awful, and guys from 2010 were slowed by injury), but this current crop of prospects/young major leaguers (Diaz, luplow, glasnow, brault, kuhl, williams, kingham, neverauskas, santana, newman, meadows, moroff, Taillon, Bell, Frazier) could represent the kind of youth movement necessary to be able to field a playoff-caliber team for $100 million. Those 15 guys would cost like 10 million if they were all in the majors next year. that’s 90 million that they can spend on other players.

        not saying it’ll definitely go right, but of course low budget teams can win. they just need a lot of young productive players in order to do it.

        • Yeh, I was just being hyperbolic for effect and to reference the original post. I agree that it’s not impossible to compete. There’s been plenty of evidence to the contrary. It’s just an extremely un-level playing field. They have to do all those things you mention at near 100% success rate to have a chance. The Dodgers just spend away any draft mistakes, and then later trade those guys for more blue chips.

      • This is right on. I have been called a “Nutting lover/defender” (whatever that means) for making the same statements in the past. It’s unfortunate that MLB is setup this way and while you have the occasional small market team rise above, i.e. Cleveland, KC, and Oakland, you will always see these same teams consistently fight an uphill battle.

        I hope the new luxury tax and international spending rules help these team out but I don’t think anyone knows what the impact will be just yet.

    • We are very fortunate that Nutting owns the team and seems committed to keeping it in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is tiny by major sports standards. Another owner might be tempted to move the team to San Antonio (5 times larger than Pittsburgh), Indianapolis (3 times larger), or another very large city that doesn’t have a team. Hopefully, Nutting isn’t tempted and I admire him if he’s not.

      • blackandgoldpgh
        September 5, 2017 3:47 pm

        The figures you cite must be city population only. Try looking at total metro areas for a truer picture. San Antonio is 24th, Pgh 26th and Indy is 34th. SA is about 85K ahead of Pgh, but what is concerning is they have shown an over 13% growth from 2010 – 2016, while Pgh lost population. Cincy would fight any move to Indy and I doubt if Indy’s slightly over 2M pop could support three major league franchises. Moot points anyway since I believe the stadium lease runs through the 2030 season.

    • Then how do you explain away the winningest season in PBC since the early 1900’s a couple years back?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        September 5, 2017 3:47 pm

        And how do you explain the abrupt drop to near oblivion just two years removed from 98 wins?

        I don’t put all of the blame on NH and CH for the free fall from 98 wins, but they certainly both have played key roles – especially NH, who has managed to weaken the farm system and major league roster simultaneously.

        • “weaken the farm system”

          i legitimately think that they currently have as many promising prospects/young players in the majors/high minors as they’ve ever had.

          i’m legitimately curious what all leads you to saying that he weakened the farm system.

        • Oh, so it’s his fault Cutch, Cole, Liriano, Marte and Kang all regressed severely from 2 years ago?

          Main reason the farm system is worse is graduating players like Bell and having injuries to guys like Meadows.

    • We only have 5 or 6 championships – how many owners is that? It’s not just owners. MLB has always hated Pittsburgh. Ever since they wanted to sign a Black catcher from the GRAYS.

    • michael schalke
      September 5, 2017 6:56 pm

      Come up with something a little more original.

  • “I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to work for and with such a quality group of professionals,” Huntington said. “We recognize that we have unfinished business. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to accomplish our organizational goals and to return a World Series championship to Pittsburgh.”
    What a sad statement………..there is no way he actually believes that. I cancelled my season tickets this year. Until they actually SHOW a commitment I will not renew.

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