PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates‘ front-office overhaul is complete.
The team said Monday it has fired general manager Neal Huntington, the third high-profile dismissal following a last-place finish in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh parted with manager Clint Hurdle on the last day of the regular season. Team president Frank Coonelly stepped away last week and will be replaced by former Pittsburgh Penguins executive Travis Williams.
Huntington arrived in Pittsburgh in 2007 and oversaw a franchise-wide makeover in which the club emerged from two decades of losing to reach the playoffs three straight times from 2013-15.
Though Pittsburgh’s slide from contention began in 2016, Huntington and Hurdle both signed four-year contract extensions in 2017 saying they were confident the team had the right plan to stay competitive in one of baseball’s toughest divisions.
Now they’re both out of work following a stunning second-half collapse in which Pittsburgh finished 69-93 amid a series of on-the-field and off-the-field issues, including the arrest of All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez on felony charges related to a sexual relationship with an underage girl.
Pirates chairman Bob Nutting appeared to give Huntington a vote of confidence when the team dismissed Hurdle, saying he strongly believed "Huntington and the leadership team that he has assembled are the right people to continue to lead our baseball operations department."
Over the last month, things changed. Nutting said last week it was obvious a change in the day-to-day operations was necessary, a move that led to Coonelly deciding it was in the "best interests" of the Pirates if the club has a "new leader who would bring new ideas and a new direction."
The moves allow Williams to start with a fresh slate. Williams spent a decade with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, eventually rising to chief operating officer while serving as part of a management team that helped the franchise win Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016 and 2017. He left the Penguins last fall to become president of business operations for the New York Islanders.
Williams will have his hands full early the Pirates now that the general manager and manager jobs are open.