MLB: Rating the front offices of the NL Central

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Pittsburgh Pirates

Ben Cherington, GM: -4.3

Cherington took over for long-time general manager Neal Huntington following yet another disastrous Pirates 2019 season. He came to the position well-qualified, having formerly served as general manager of the Boston Red Sox, including during the team’s 2013 World Series run.

First-year GMs of losing teams often engage in roster demolitions. One of the interesting aspects of Cherington’s debut season in Pittsburgh was that he largely resisted that course. He released or traded only four players who saw time with other major league teams in 2020, and their departures had only a nominal impact on the team’s fortunes.

He was, however, largely frustrated in his ability to energize the existing roster. Of the 30 personnel moves that affected the Pirates in 2020, only eight produced a positive impact on the team. Easily the most impactful was the promotion of rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who came up Sept. 1 and batted .376. That translated to a 1.6 WAA.

Hayes, however, was the striking exception. Aside from Hayes, the biggest positive mover was pitcher Nick Tropeano, acquired from New York in an August waiver deal. He had a 1.15 ERA in seven relief appearances, good for a  +0.5 WAA.

Most of the rest of what Cherington did simply did not work in the short term. He signed journeyman pitcher Derek Holland as a free agent and got -1.4 WAA in return. Journeyman outfielder Jarrod Dyson returned -0.8 before being shipped out.