PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ leadership overhaul is complete.

Pittsburgh hired longtime major league coach Derek Shelton as manager on Wednesday, the final piece of a new-look leadership following a last-place finish in the NL Central. Shelton replaces Clint Hurdle, who was fired on the final day of the regular season.

“We are confident Derek will help lead an elite playing and coaching environment at the major league level and be a true partner to all of baseball operations as we challenge each other to get better every day,” Pittsburgh GM Ben Cherington said in a statement.

Shelton was the third high-profile hire by the Pirates since the end of a 69-93 season marred by issues both on and off the field. Travis Williams replaced Frank Coonelly as president in October. The team brought in Cherington this month after Neal Huntington was let go after 12 years on the job.

Shelton filled the eighth and final manager vacancy, joining Joe Maddon (Los Angeles Angels), Joe Girardi (Philadelphia), David Ross (Chicago Cubs), Jayce Tingler (San Diego), Mike Matheny (Kansas City), Carlos Beltran (New York Mets) and Gabe Kapler (San Francisco). Beltran was the only minority hired for a manager opening.

The 49-year-old Shelton spent the last two seasons as the bench coach for the Minnesota Twins. Shelton’s previous stops include a season as the quality control coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017 – his tenure overlapping Cherington’s stint as Toronto’s vice president of baseball operations – and seven years as a hitting coach with the Tampa Bay Rays. Shelton broke into the majors as hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians from 2005-09.

Shelton’s managerial experience is limited to minor league stints in the Yankees’ organization in the early 2000s.

“It is going to be an exciting change of culture in our clubhouse,” Shelton said in a statement. “It is going to be a fun environment in which we will all be held accountable to each other. It will be a player-centric culture built on strong communication and relationships with our players, our staff and the entire organization.”

Shelton inherits a team that finished below .500 in three of the last four seasons, though the on-field product during a miserable 25-48 second half proved to be just part of Pittsburgh’s issues. Relievers Keone Kela and Kyle Crick were suspended for their roles in separate dust-ups with members of the team’s coaching and support staff. All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez was arrested in September on felony charges stemming from an alleged illegal sexual relationship with a minor.

Cherington said shortly after his hire the Pirates need to do a better job of continuing to develop players once they reach the major leagues. Owner Bob Nutting expressed frustration at seeing prospects the Pirates let go flourish elsewhere, including Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

Amid the losing, there were bright spots. First baseman Josh Bell became an All-Star while hitting 37 home runs. Rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds hit .314 while finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and shortstop Kevin Newman hit .308 in 130 games after being elevated to the starting role following an early season injury to Erik Gonzalez.

The pitching staff, however, is in tatters. Ace Jameson Taillon is out for 2020 after Tommy John surgery on his right (pitching) elbow for a second time. Pittsburgh finished with a team ERA of 5.18, next-to-last in the NL and 26th in the majors.

YANKEES: First baseman Greg Bird became a free agent after he cleared waivers and refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bird, who turned 27 on Nov. 9, debuted on Aug. 13, 2015, and hit .261 with 11 homers and 31 RBI in 46 games. He missed all of 2016 following surgery that Feb. 2 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury originally sustained that May with Double-A Trenton.

Bird returned to bat .451 with eight homers in spring training during 2017 but fouled a ball off his right ankle March 30, started the season 6 for 60 and went on the disabled list May 2.

When the foot did not improve, Bird had surgery July 18 to remove a bone in the ankle. He returned in late August and hit three home runs in the playoffs, including a seventh-inning drive off Andrew Miller that lifted New York to a 1-0 win over Cleveland in Game 3 of the Division Series.

He slumped to a .154 average with four RBI during spring training in 2018 and had surgery March 27 to remove a broken bone spur from the outside of the ankle. Bird returned May 26 and hit just .199 with 11 homers and 38 RBI, losing the first-base job to Luke Voit.

Eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2019, he had a $1.2 million salary. Bird went on the injured list with a left plantar fascia tear on April 16, three days after what turned out to be his final game. He hit .171 in 10 games with one RBI, an opening-day home run off Baltimore’s Paul Fry.

TWINS: Shortstop Jorge Polanco is rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle and is expected to be fully recovered in plenty of time for spring training.

MARINERS: A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and Seattle agreed to a $950,000, one-year contract.

Edwards can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses, the person said.

A 28-year-old right-hander, Edwards slumped this year. He had an 8.47 ERA in 22 appearances for the Chicago Cubs and San Diego, which acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline.

TRADES: The Padres acquired right-hander Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham from the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Luis Urias and left-hander Eric Lauer.

San Diego also will send cash or another player to the Brewers to complete the deal.

• The Tampa Bay Rays acquired minor leaguer Brian O’Grady from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named and cash.

To make room for the first baseman/outfielder on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated first baseman Jesus Aguilar for assignment.


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