PITTSBURGH -- Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle are here for the long haul. The Pirates on Tuesday announced that they have agreed to four-year contract extensions with their general manager and manager, respectively, keeping them in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season.Huntington and Hurdle entered the year with uncertain futures but
PITTSBURGH -- Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle are here for the long haul. The Pirates on Tuesday announced that they have agreed to four-year contract extensions with their general manager and manager, respectively, keeping them in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season.
Huntington and Hurdle entered the year with uncertain futures but confident they would work out an agreement. This was the final guaranteed season of their previous contracts, and upper management had made no public decision regarding their 2018 club options. Their new deals will begin next season, ensuring more than a decade of stability in the front office and dugout.
"Both men are selfless leaders who have made us a far stronger organization, both on and off the field," team president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. "Neal and Clint have embraced the challenge of building a winner in Pittsburgh and have been critical to the success that we have had here to date. We have much work to do to reach the heights that our fans deserve. I am excited to continue to work with Neal and Clint to help bring a World Series championship back to Pittsburgh."
Hurdle has a 575-534 record in seven years with the Pirates, the fifth-highest win total in franchise history. He was hired after the 2010 season, managed through two late-season collapses then helped end the Bucs' 20-year losing streak before leading them to the postseason three straight times (2013-15). After finishing 78-83 last year, the Pirates are attempting to avoid a second straight losing season.
"Number one, I'm proud to be a Pirate," Hurdle said. "I love what the organization stands for. I love the tradition, the legacy in so many different areas. … I really have an intense, burning desire to be a small part of the tradition moving forward."
Hurdle, 60, said there was "never a doubt" he had the mental energy to keep up with the grind of four more seasons, but he discussed his decision at length with his wife, Karla, as well as his young children, Maddie and Christian. He described his family as "ecstatic" to remain in Pittsburgh.
"We got to the point where [Karla] said, 'If you want convenience and comfort, retire. That's where you can find it,'" Hurdle said. "What we kept getting back to is our love for this area, the way our kids have bonded here."
Shortstop Jordy Mercer remarked that Hurdle has seemingly found a "new gear" this season. Mercer attributed that to Hurdle's physical health -- he's had both hips replaced and spent the offseason improving his overall fitness -- and the young players the Pirates have called up this season.
"On the professional side, working together with men and women for seven years within this building, the relationships are real. There's roots," Hurdle said. "We are in the baseball side of it to win games. We've still got another opportunity to win games on a more impactful level and push it into the postseason and to win a World Series. That's the goal. That hasn't changed."
Huntington was named the Pirates' general manager on Sept. 25, 2007. He is already the second-longest tenured GM in club history behind only Joe L. Brown, who held his post for a total of 22 years. That kind of job security is rare in baseball, particularly given the seven losing seasons his group has endured around its 2013-15 run. Still, the Pirates have the fifth-best record in baseball since 2013.
"I am enthusiastic to have both Neal and Clint continuing to lead our baseball operations," Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a statement. "While we all know that there is still much work to be done and goals to accomplish, we have made a tremendous amount of progress under their tenures. I believe that Neal and Clint continue to be the right leaders to push us forward in our goal of bringing postseason baseball back to Pittsburgh."
The Pirates rank among the bottom third in payroll each year, but Huntington said he still embraces the challenge of winning with a small-market club. The Bucs have promoted a handful of promising young players over the past two years, forming a young core that should be in place under Hurdle and Huntington.
"We've done some good things. We have more to do," Huntington said. "There was a feeling that we have some things left to accomplish. We have a great group of people that are committed to each other and to something bigger than themselves. This was an opportunity to continue to push this forward."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.