MLB News and Notes: Pirates Hire New Manager

Slowly but surely, the Major League Baseball Hot Stove is starting to heat up. If you’re a catcher, things are definitely heating up. Let’s catch up on everything newsworthy from the past week in case you missed something.

Pirate Leader

The Pirates are the final team to fill their managerial vacancy, hiring Twins bench coach Derek Shelton. While this is his first job as a manager in the big leagues, Shelton spent a few seasons managing in the minors with the Yankees before serving on several big-league staffs in recent years. Shelton becomes the final piece of the puzzle for the Pirates, who also named a new team president and GM earlier this offseason.

Trade Season

Trade season opened this week with an unusual swap between the Brewers and Padres. In a four-player trade, starter Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham head to the Padres, while the Brewers have acquired shortstop Luis Urias and pitcher Eric Lauer.

Urias figures to step in as Milwaukee’s new shortstop with Orlando Arcia being a candidate to be cut loose. Grisham, meanwhile, is a left-hand hitting outfielder to complement an otherwise right-hand hitting San Diego outfield. Meanwhile, Davies and Lauer will essentially swap rotation spots for the two teams.

Big Pom

In addition to acquiring Davies for their starting rotation, the Padres have also signed lefty Drew Pomeranz to a four-year, $34 million deal. Pomeranz has bounced around a lot the past few seasons, including a stint with the Padres in 2016, and now he’s on his way back to San Diego. The lefty was used primarily out of the bullpen after being traded to the Brewers last July, and the Padres expect to use him in the same role, serving as the primary setup man for closer Kirby Yates.

Run On Catchers

As mentioned, catchers have been a hot commodity early in the offseason. Yasmani Grandal was the first big position player to sign this winter, inking a four-year, $73 million contract with the White Sox. That was soon followed by Travis d’Arnaud signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Braves.

The Diamondbacks also made a move behind the plate, adding Stephen Voigt on a one-year deal. The Astros added Dustin Garneau to serve as their backup catcher in 2020. Finally, Yan Gomes is returning to the Nationals on a two-year deal worth $10 million.

The New Wave

Rich Hill is becoming a pioneer of sorts by undergoing a relatively new surgery to repair a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The surgery is called a “primary repair” and is being considered an alternative to Tommy John surgery, although not every pitcher with a torn UCL is a candidate for the procedure. The surgery is less invasive than Tommy John and comes with a shorter recovery and rehab time.

Hill, who is now a free agent, had the surgery last month and is planning on being ready to pitch in the majors in June after he turns 40. Of course, he still needs to find a team that’s willing to take a chance on Hill being able to give them half a season.