Pirates hire Derek Shelton as manager
The Pirates are in a strange place as a franchise and are trying to put the pieces together and figure out where they go from here. They have some interesting decisions to make with their roster, but before that they had to figure out who would run the baseball operations department (Ben Cherington got that job) and who would run the dugout. They just figured out the answer to the latter question right before Thanksgiving, with the job going to former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton. Shelton has his work cut out for him, particularly since the Pirates are in a position where they could be trading a number of their best players this winter as they look at yet another rebuild. Among them is expected to be Starling Marte. That said, Shelton was extremely well-respected in a Twins organization that is as well-regarded as any in baseball right now, and he was a hot commodity for a lot of openings around the league. Presumably he’ll have a relatively long leash in Pittsburgh.
Sox Spin: I don’t really have anything here. Maybe that makes the Twins a little worse, which is good for American League contenders?
Justin Bour signs in Japan
There wasn’t really any action in terms of player movement on Friday, at least in the majors. We did have one MLB vet head overseas, though, with Justin Bour heading to Japan to play for the Hashin Tigers. The first baseman had spent five seasons with the Marlins before spending a couple months with the Phillies at the end of 2018 and the 2019 season with the Angels. He was always a very solid bat with the Marlins, never proudcing a below-average OPS+, but he never really made the leap into something special. In the year-and-change since he left Miami, things had gone downhill very steeply. The lefty now has a chance to spend a couple of years in Japan and potentially rebuild some value and potentially come back Stateside if things go well. If not, he’ll have made some more money and gotten the opportunity to live for some time in a new culture.
Sox Spin: Bour likely could have at least gotten some minor-league deals from MLB teams, my guess is that he liked the stability (and money) of a deal in the NPB over the uncertainly with a minor-league deal. That said, he would have been an interesting flier for the Red Sox to take. They have plenty of right-handed help at first base but could use a cheap lefty to fill in. Greg Bird has been a popular pick there, but Bour has been better more recently and isn’t that old as he’s about to enter his age-32 season.