Examining early candidates for next manager


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Jeff Banister before a game in Houston this past March. - DEJAN KOVACEVIC / DKPS

Some of the dust has settled since the Pirates fired Clint Hurdle at the end of the 2019 regular season, and potential replacements have emerged.

While this list could obviously expand and not everyone the front office wants to interview will reciprocate their interest (see: Sam Fuld), this is the first batch of serious candidates to be the next field manager:

Special assistant, baseball ops, Pirates

Banister, 55, has a long history with the Pirates. He played his only major league game with the team in 1991 and served as a manager in their farm system from 1994-1998. He served as a minor- and major-league coordinator through 2010 before being considered for the Pirates' managerial job after the 2010 season. While the job eventually went to Hurdle, Banister stayed on as a bench coach through 2014.

Banister managed the Rangers from 2015-2018. He finished with a 325-313 record, leading the Rangers to two AL West titles in 2015 and 2016 and won the 2015 AL Manager of the Year award. Texas finished with a below-.500 record in 2017 and dismissed him in September 2018.

He returned to the Pirates as a special assistant last offseason and spent time in the clubhouse.

According to Dejan Kovacevic, Bob Nutting knows and trusts Banister, making him the clear favorite.

VP, player development, Diamondbacks

Bell, 44, oversees Arizona's minor-league affiliates, managers, coordinators and coaching staffs, and handles player acquisitions and transactions. He has held the job since November 2016.

He spent three seasons as a minor-league manager in the Diamondbacks' system before being named a minor-league field coordinator in 2010. In 2011, he became the team's director of player development.

During his nine year tenure at the helm of the Diamondbacks' player development, Arizona has had 42 homegrown players make their major league debut with the team.

Bell's grandfather, Gus, played for the Pirates in 1950. He is the brother of Reds manager David Bell.

Jon Heyman was the first to report the Pirates' interest in Bell.

Bench coach, Athletics

Christenson, 45, played parts of six big league seasons for four different clubs from 1998-2003. He spent five years managing in the Athletics' farm system from 2013-2017, including serving as the skipper for their Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds in 2017, before being hired as the team's bench coach in 2018.

Christenson has been groomed under manager Bob Melvin, widely regarded as one of the best in baseball, these past two seasons. Christenson would presumably be Oakland's first choice for a successor to Melvin, but he is signed through 2021 and is in very sound standing after leading the Athletics to consecutive playoff berths.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Christenson has an interview scheduled with the Pirates next week.

Bench coach, Twins

Shelton, 49, was first year manager Rocco Baldelli's right-hand man in 2019. While Baldelli received most of the credit for the Twins' 101-win season, Shelton did a lot of the behind the scenes work, including running spring training.

While Shelton does not have any experience as a big league manager, he served as the skipper for the rookie and low-A affiliates of the Yankees from 2000-2002. He spent five seasons as the Indians' hitting coach from 2005-2009, before accepting the same position with the Rays in 2010. He was Tampa's hitting coach until being fired in 2016. In 2017, he served as a quality control coach for the Blue Jays. He became the Twins' bench coach in 2018.

LaVelle Neal III of the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported Shelton has interviews scheduled with the Pirates and Mets.

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