Pirates fire manager Clint Hurdle after nine seasons; GM Neal Huntington will remain in Pittsburgh

Another MLB team will change managers this offseason. Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates announced manager Clint Hurdle had been fired. Bench coach Tom Prince managed the team during its final game of the season Sunday.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington released the following statement Sunday:

"Words cannot express how much respect and appreciation I have for Clint as a person and a leader. He was the right person at the right time to take on the enormous challenge of leading our Major League team out of an extended losing streak and piloting us to three straight Postseason appearances. We will be forever grateful for his dedication to the Pirates organization on and off the field," said Huntington. "This was an extremely difficult decision for us. As an organization, we believe it was time for a managerial change to introduce a new voice and new leadership inside the clubhouse.

"This has been a challenging season on many levels. We are committed to assessing and improving upon our operations at all levels in order to return Postseason baseball to Pittsburgh     

"I have a great deal of appreciation for everything Clint has done for the Pittsburgh Pirates and our community," owner Bob Nutting added. "Clint is not only a great baseball man, he is a great family man. His leadership, inspiration, advice and friendship has helped make me a better person, as he has for so many others. It has been an honor to work with him for the past nine seasons."

Earlier this week Hurdle told <em>The Athletic</em>'s Stephen Nesbitt he "received assurance from the organization" that he would remain the manager next season, so obviously something changed. Perhaps Hurdle misunderstood the team's direction or the team simply had a change of heart. Whatever it is, Hurdle has indeed been let go.

The Pirates have been mired in controversy during a lousy second half. Reliever Keone Kela was suspended two games in July following an altercation with Hector Morales, the team's director of cultural readiness and peak performance, and setup man Kyle Crick needed season-ending hand surgery following a fight with close Felipe Vazquez. That did not bode well for Hurdle's future.

Hurdle, 62, took over as Pittsburgh manager in November 2010. He led the team to the postseason each year from 2013-15 -- 2013 was the Pirates first winning season since 1992 -- though they've had a losing season the last four years, and are guaranteed to finish 2019 with their worst record since 2010. In nine seasons under Hurdle, the Pirates went 735-720 (.505) overall.

Despite Hurdle's dismissal, the Pirates will retain general manager Neal Huntington, the team announced Sunday. Huntington has been at the helm since Sept. 2007 -- he is the fourth longest tenured general manager in baseball -- and the other four NL Central teams have won at least two division titles since then. Pittsburgh hasn't won its division since 1992.

"While we felt it was time to make a change at the managerial level, I strongly believe that Neal Huntington and the leadership team that he has assembled are the right people to continue to lead our baseball operations department," Nutting said. "... Neal and his leadership team are well into an extensive review of every element of our baseball operations."

The Pirates are 921-1,019 in 12 seasons under Huntington, the eighth worst record in baseball during that time. Several trades, most notably the Gerrit Cole trade with the Astros and Chris Archer trade with the Rays, have been unmitigated disasters for the Pirates, and the recent clubhouse discord is a bad look as well. And yet, Huntington remains.

There are currently five managerial openings in baseball: Cubs (parted ways with Joe Maddon), Giants (Bruce Bochy retiring), Padres (Andy Green fired), Royals (Ned Yost retiring), and Pirates (Hurdle fired). The Mets and Phillies stand out as teams that could soon make a managerial change as well.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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