Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates have parted ways with team president Frank Coonelly after he ran the club’s day-to-day operations for the past 12 years.
The 59-year-old Coonelly had come to the Pirates, one of MLB’s smaller-market franchises, after working in the league office as senior vice president and general counsel, where he spent nearly a decade alongside current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on labor-related matters such as aiding on collective bargaining agreements and player arbitration cases.
In Pittsburgh, Coonelly help lead the club out of a 20-year run of losing seasons and the Pirates reached the postseason three straight times between 2013-15. Over the past several years, though, the Pirates’ on-field fortunes have sharply declined and attendance at PNC Park has fallen by more than a million per year compared to the peak of those playoff years.
The Pirates this season were also 42-43 in early July and three games out of first place in their division, before losing 26 of their next 32 games and essentially killing their 2019 season.
As a result, both Coonelly and team owner Bob Nutting agreed a change of leadership was required. A replacement for Coonelly has been selected and will be named publicly on October 28, which is a scheduled off day between Games 5 and 6 of MLB’s ongoing World Series.
“This leadership transition gives us the opportunity to refresh our entire operations,” Nutting said.
Coonelly acknowledged the move came as a result of a “comprehensive assessment of everything we do.
“Results matter and our results simply were not acceptable. It was clear change was necessary,” he said. “While not an easy conclusion to reach, I ultimately decided that the best interests of the Pirates would be served if the club had a new leader who would bring new ideas and a new direction.”
The Pirates are also currently undergoing a search for the vacant field manager position.