The Pirates have hired Twins bench coach Derek Shelton as their new manager. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey was the first to report the hire, and the team very quickly confirmed it on Wednesday:
Pirates new manager will be Derek Shelton, per source. Story to come.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) November 27, 2019
The Pirates have hired Derek Shelton as our 41st Manager of the organization.— Pirates (@Pirates) November 27, 2019
Shelton has 15 years of coaching experience and spent the last two seasons as the bench coach of the Minnesota Twins. pic.twitter.com/nbm6Es4Qoc
The Pirates were the last team to hire a manager, as the organization essentially cleaned house with the postseason resignation of president Frank Coonelly and the subsequent firing of GM Neal Huntington. As the team searched for a new person to head their baseball operations department, the managerial search was paused and only resumed after the team hired former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington earlier this month. The 49-year-old Shelton will now work in tandem with Cherington as a new era of Pirates baseball gets underway.
Shelton has drawn rave reviews for his work as Minnesota’s bench coach for the past two seasons, and AL Manager of the Year Rocco Baldelli praised him for his work as his “right-hand man” upon winning the award. His career in pro baseball began as a catcher in the Yankees’ system in 1992-93, spending time on the same teams as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. He eventually became a manager in the Bronx Bombers’ minor-league system before working his way to a major-league coaching staff in 2005, when he was named the Indians’ hitting coach. He took the same job with the Rays in advance of the 2010 season (and recorded this memorable Speed Hitter infomercial during that tenure), remaining in Tampa until late in the 2016 season. After a year as the Blue Jays’ quality control coach, Shelton assumed his most recent position as Minnesota’s bench coach prior to the 2018 season, working under Paul Molitor and then surviving last offseason’s regime change, coming back to work under Baldelli in 2019.
Shelton will be Pittsburgh’s first new manager in quite a while — Clint Hurdle had been with the Pirates since November 2010. In order to find success in Pittsburgh, Shelton will obviously need to be innovative and creative in order to overcome the lack of talent and depth relative to so many higher-budget clubs, and he’ll need to do a good job of communicating with young players and understanding how they approach the game, as the Pirates have already been building around a young core and figure to get even younger in 2020 with Huntington — famous for his veteran reclamation projects — out of the picture.