Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates GM Neal Huntington says he passed on Giants' baseball ops job

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USATSI

Pirates GM Neal Huntington says he passed on Giants' baseball ops job

The Giants hired Farhan Zaidi as president of baseball operations last month, but he wasn't the only candidate they pursued.

One of those candidates was Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, according to the man himself.

Huntington told reporters at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas that he was deep in conversations with the Giants, but he decided to stay in the Steel City. 

Huntington has been Pittsburgh's general manager since 2007, and the Pirates ended a two-decade playoff drought under his watch. He also traded franchise cornerstones Andrew McCutchen (to the Giants) and Gerrit Cole (to the Houston Astros) last offseason, but the Pirates surprised most of baseball en route to compiling an 82-79 record. 

The 49-year-old also has worked with a much smaller budget than he would have had in San Francisco, and he built one of the game's stronger analytics departments. Giants CEO Larry Baer said at the outset of the offseason he was looking for a "next-gen" candidate to lead the organization, and Huntington would have checked a lot of boxes.

But, the Giants ultimately hired Zaidi, and they enter the Winter Meetings surrounded by far more mystery than previous offseasons. We'll never know what their approach would have looked like under Huntington, but we'll learn soon enough what Zaidi will do. 

Rodriguez, Hundley combined to lift Giants past Pirates in finale

Rodriguez, Hundley combined to lift Giants past Pirates in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a losing record on this homestand. They dropped two heartbreakers against the Astros, got blown out one night, and looked half-asleep after Barry Bonds had his number retired. 

But they still have Dereck Rodriguez, and on Sunday that was just enough to end the week on a high note. Rodriguez threw seven more dominant innings, bolstering his Rookie of the Year case and leading the Giants to a 4-3 win over the Pirates. 

The Giants finished 2-4 on the homestand. Here’s what you need to know from the finale … 

--- Rodriguez has made five starts in the second half and pitched at least six innings in each of them. He has allowed five total runs. On Sunday he gave up an early run but ended up once again getting through seven dominant frames, lowering his ERA to 2.25 and WHIP to 1.00.

--- Steven Duggar hit a leadoff single in the third and cruised home when Nick Hundley smoked one into Triples Alley. The triple was just Hundley’s second in two years as a Giant. The Giants failed to get Hundley home. 

--- A heads-up play by Gorkys Hernandez gave the Giants their third run. Hernandez was on first when Steven Duggar reached on an infield single to the right side. As Joe Musgrove argued the call at first, Hernandez alertly raced to third. He scored when Hundley hit a ball off third baseman Colin Moran’s glove. 

--- The bullpen nearly gave up an 11-3 lead on Friday. Two days later, Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson teamed up to give up a couple of runs in the top of the eighth. The Pirates got the tying run to second, but Gregory Polanco flied out. 

--- Shoutout to Lucy Mirigian, who was celebrated on the scoreboard after the fourth inning. Lucy turned 112 on Sunday.

Andrew McCutchen shocked by Pirates big trades months after shipping him to Giants

Andrew McCutchen shocked by Pirates big trades months after shipping him to Giants

The Pirates were supposed to be rebuilding this season. They traded away faces-of-the-franchise Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole last winter. Contending wasn't in their plans.

Instead, an 11-game winning streak that wrapped around the All-Star break put the Pirates on the fringes of playoff contention. That run convinced their front office to buy prior to the July 31 trade deadline.

In the blockbuster of the trade deadline, the Pirates traded two of their most promising young players -- outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow -- for All-Star pitcher Chris Archer. They also acquired closer Keone Kela from the Rangers.

The moves caught McCutchen off guard.

“It was definitely surprising to see because they’ve never done that before, at least when I was there. Yeah, they made trades when I was there, but nothing like getting an ace starter. You either change with the times, or you get left behind. Maybe they were tired of getting left behind," McCutchen told USA Today Sports recently.

“You’ve got to understand the fanbase, what we’ve been though the past few years, not winning, and having a window to win...Maybe, it comes with experience knowing that they need to act and get the pieces they need, as opposed to the past, where they said, “Hey, we’re good with what we got,’" McCutchen said.

Entering play on Monday, the Pirates are 57-55 and sit in fourth place in the NL Central, 7.5 games behind the Cubs. In the Nl Wild Card race, they five games behind the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.

McCutchen spent the first nine years of his career with the Pirates. He was traded to the Giants in January for reliever Kyle Crick, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and international bonus money.