Pirates continue shake-up, fire GM Neal Huntington

The Pittsburgh Pirates have continued their offseason shake-up by firing executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, the team announced Monday.

The Pirates also announced the hiring of Travis Williams as the team's new president. He will replace Frank Coonelly, who was fired last week.

"I greatly appreciate Neal's dedication to the Pirates organization and our city over the past 12 seasons," Pirates chairman of the board Bob Nutting said in a statement. "His time with the Pirates should always be remembered for ending a long stretch of futility and bringing Postseason baseball back to Pittsburgh.

"This past season was by far the most frustrating and challenging season that I have experienced as owner. It became clear to me as the season progressed that significant change was necessary in order to refresh our entire operations."

Manager Clint Hurdle was fired on Sept. 29, and two other coaches were let go that same week.

Pittsburgh finished last in the NL Central this season, going 69-93 and missing the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. The Pirates were 42-43 on July 3 and only three games out of first place in the division at the time.

Huntington, 50, had served as general manager since replacing Dave Littlefield after the 2007 season. He had two years remaining on his contract.

Williams, who spent 11 seasons with the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins as the chief operating officer, will officially begin as Pirates president Friday. He had been serving as theNew York Islanders' president of business operations, a role he took over in 2018.

"This is a homecoming for me, both personally and professionally," Williams said in a statement. "It is a tremendous opportunity to come back to a city and a team that I love. I am excited about working with Bob and the rest of the Pirates family to return this franchise to a winning tradition.

"Today, we turn the page and start writing a new chapter in the history of the Pirates. We are committed to a refresh of our entire operations. The first step in this process is to immediately begin the search for new leadership of our baseball operations."

Kevin Graves, who has been the team's assistant general manager, will take over the Pirates GM role on an interim basis.

The decision to fire Huntington was a sharp turn from Nutting, who gave a strong endorsement to the general manager after Hurdle was fired.

"I strongly believe Neal Huntington and the leadership team that he has assembled are the right people to continue to lead our baseball operations department," Nutting said at the time.

Nutting, however, changed his mind, saying the front-office overhaul was "not easy" and was made after "a systematic and thorough review."

Nutting said the team will not start looking for a new manager until Huntington has been replaced.

The Pirates also fired pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Tom Prince following the season.The team said all other members of the major league coaching staff are candidates to remain with the team pending the outcome of the managerial search.
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