A significant part of the Blue Jays’ front office is set to move on. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben Cherington, the senior vice president of baseball operations, has accepted the Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager role.
According to multiple sources, Ben Cherington has accepted the Pirates GM job and is currently in Pittsburgh. Story to come.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) November 15, 2019
Though the deal isn’t yet official, it appears as though the Pirates will be a formal announcement on Monday that Cherington will be steering the ship. (Get it? Ha haaaa!)
Cherington has been with the Blue Jays for three years now, but he’s mostly known for his work with the Boston Red Sox. He worked his way up the organization through the scouting and player development side before becoming the team’s general manager after Theo Epstein left in 2011.
He orchestrated one of the biggest salary dumps in league history, sending Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, freeing up an incredible $258 million in commitments in one deal. After a horrendous 2012 season, Cherington made a bunch of under-the-radar additions, such as Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and Stephen Drew, that ultimately helped the Red Sox come out nowhere and win the 2013 World Series. During that he time, he also built the Sox farm system up, assembling the core of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi that the team has today.
Cherington’s downfall came when he handed out big contracts of his own. Prior to 2015, he signed Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to a couple of albatross contracts and the team flopped. After Dave Dombroski was hired a president of baseball operations, Cherington handed in his resignation and ultimately joined the Blue Jays a year later.
Since building a farm team is a group endeavour, it’s hard to say specifically what Cherington contributed, but, given his prowess at finding and developing talent, it’s safe to say he played a big role in the Blue Jays’ rebuild. It’s a shame to see him go, but that’s the reality of having smart and talented people working in your organization. He’ll be an ideal fit for a small market team in Pittsburgh that badly needs to start from scratch.