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Floyd: Recent Ben Cherington Comments Cause For Pause

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Ben Cherington

Pirates’ general manager Ben Cherington gave reporters a heavy helping of word salad last weekend when asked about the Pirates’ plans for the first overall pick in the MLB Draft, which begins Sunday, July 9 in Seattle. 

In popular opinion, the debate for the number one pick revolves around LSU stars Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, but Cherington said the door remains open to pick another player.

“First of all, I just want to be clear. I wouldn’t stop at two players,” Cherington said. “We have more than that under consideration…I fully expect we go into [the draft] still with multiple considerations at the top.”

He continued to wax poetic from there. Cherington loves to mince words, but this seems overboard, even for him.

What Does It Mean?

Holding the first overall pick, it’s not like the Pirates need to set a smokescreen to prevent other teams from picking the player they want.

This isn’t the NFL or NBA where teams can trade regular draft picks before a selection actually occurs, so he’s not going to bait a massive haul of picks and players from a desperate team if he leaves the door open.

There’s no valid reason for Cherington to act this evasive—unless he’s so used to GM-speak that he simply can’t help himself.

His heavy-handed deliberation was more than enough for me to raise an eyebrow, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the Pirates select a player other than Crews or Skenes with the top pick. 

It wouldn’t be the first time Cherington looked to stockpile as many players as possible, maximizing his use of pool money instead of going over slot to bring in a consensus top prospect: that’s what happened in 2021 when the Pirates shirked Marcelo Mayer for Henry Davis. 

The Pirates sit in a much different situation now, though, nearly four years into Cherington’s tenure. When Cherington got the job, he looked to rehabilitate a depleted farm system. Pittsburgh entered 2023 with one of the highest-ranked systems in all of baseball.

If I were Ben Cherington, I’d stay the course and pick Crews or Skenes. I’m not, though, and Pirates fans shouldn’t be surprised if he opts to go in a different direction. 

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