The Pirates will soon undergo another significant change this offseason.
Team president Frank Coonelly, who has been with the club since Sept. 13, 2007, is parting ways with the Pirates, multiple sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The parting was mutual, one source said, with both sides believing new leadership was required.
An announcement is expected later this week or early next, at which time it's also expected the Pirates will name Coonelly's replacement.
Owner Bob Nutting and Coonelly informed the entire Pirates staff of the move on Wednesday morning, at which point Coonelly grew emotional while talking about the change.
Before coming to the Pirates, Coonelly, 59, served as senior vice president and general counsel of labor in the MLB commissioner’s office, where he negotiated and administered collective bargaining agreements with the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association.
Prior to joining the commissioner’s office in 1998, Coonelly practiced labor and employment law in Washington, D.C. In that role, Coonelly assisted in a variety of baseball matters, including salary arbitration.
Sources said owner Bob Nutting was very much involved in the move, as he would obviously have to be. Nutting has been unhappy with the Pirates’ popularity, specifically the number of empty seats at PNC Park.
Not that Coonelly is the primary reason for that — credit the on-field product and its lack of success — but this move would seem to signal a new path ahead.
An announcement from the Pirates is expected either at the end of this week or the beginning of next.
Whomever the Pirates decide to hire as president will inherit an ongoing managerial search, one that has moved into a second round of interviews.
Among those interviewing the first time were Jeff Banister, Derek Shelton, Mark Kotsay, Ryan Christenson and Stubby Clapp, along with a few others.
Having to hire people both above and below general manager Neal Huntington certainly creates an interesting situation, especially since Huntington’s contract expires in two years.
In addition to basically putting Huntington on the clock, bringing in a new president would also seem to indicate that other moves could be on the table, depending on whatever the new person looks to change.
Neither Connelly nor Huntington responded to calls and messages seeking comment.
Jason Mackey: email@example.com and Twitter @JMackeyPG.