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Neal Huntington Discusses the Pirates Budget, Andrew McCutchen, Jung Ho Kang

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David Todd had Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington on his show yesterday for two segments, reviewing the 2016 season and discussing some of the potential moves for the current off-season. Most of the first segment was a review of the 2016 season, and a discussion of finances and the budget. The second segment got into some 2017 topics, including a discussion about whether Andrew McCutchen could eventually be traded. The audio can be heard below, with some notes to follow each segment.

**Huntington recapped the 2016 season, their approach with the pitching, and what did and didn’t work with the prospects, the bullpen, the bench, and the rotation. “We did not hit on the area we needed to hit,” Huntington said of the starting pitching.

**Huntington mentioned that they don’t get into deficit spending, but noted that they started off over budget in 2016. “With the David Freese addition, we went into the season over-budget,” Huntington said. I had them at an estimated $102.1 M on Opening Day, which means if you wanted to project a budget that the Pirates were operating with for 2017, that $100 M figure would probably be a safe bet.

**In the second segment, Huntington discussed the coaching staff changes, and said that discussions about incremental wins and potential areas of improvements led to the changes. The Pirates made changes with their third base and infield coach (Joey Cora), outfield and base running coach (Kimera Bartee), and their bench coach (Tom Prince). He also said that Brad Fischer has accepted a role in the system as the Minor League Field Coordinator, which was Tom Prince’s former position.

**They discussed the potential of an Andrew McCutchen trade. Huntington’s comments started around the 4:30 mark in segment two. I’ll let David’s takeaway from the interview do the talking:

**In discussing the three lefty relievers (RE: Tony Watson as a potential trade candidate), Huntington noted they are fine keeping all three, but referenced the Melancon trade as something they could repeat if the situation came up. “If somebody comes in here and offers us a situation like Felipe Rivero and Hearn for Melancon — as great as Melancon is, it was two months, and now we have five years and two months of Felipe Rivero, and hopefully six-plus years of Hearn.”

**Huntington said that Gerrit Cole is expected to begin the year healthy.

**Huntington said Josh Bell has already started working with Joey Cora on his defense at first base.

**Huntington said that Chad Kuhl has an inside track on a rotation spot next year.

**If Jung Ho Kang can play shortstop as a backup, Huntington said that creates the best 25-man roster. He said that South Korea wanted Kang to play shortstop in the World Baseball Classic, and while they didn’t love the idea, they agreed to it, since he wanted to play the position, and since they planned on him playing the position some next year.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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