According to Ken Rosenthal on FOX’s Saturday baseball broadcast, Bob Nutting and the Pirates have decided on Frank Coonelly to fill their chief executive vacancy.
Coonelly currently serves as Major League Baseball’s chief labor council. Earlier this year, he was considered the 12th most influential man in baseball in a list compiled by USA Today:
Coonelly, who began working with MLB in 1998, has little visibility in comparison to other MLB executives. He is part of the negotiating team for the collective-bargaining agreements with both the players union and the umpires. He is also responsible for coordinating offers of arbitration, bonuses paid to draft picks (which are “slotted” by MLB according to when the players are selected) and other financial matters.
Yesterday, Nutting had this to say about his front office openings in an interview with Lanny Frattare:
Frattare: Now you said “candidates,” that’s to say then that you’re going to hire a president and a general manager?
Nutting: Well, I was talking about candidates for GM but absolutely, one thing that I have learned in the search process for the president—Kevin McClatchy’s role—is that there are two very distinct skill sets that we need; one for the general manager —single-minded focus on the baseball operation, and then a second person, the president, who has overall responsibility—needs to be grounded in the fundamentals of baseball but doesn’t have the day-to-day focus for making the moves that the general manager is charged with.
Coonelly presumably would assume that second role as team president.
UPDATE: More on Coonelly …
- “Frank Coonelly may be the most powerful person in baseball you’ve never heard of.” – Bronx Banter
- “Through the continued supervision of MLB senior vice president of labor relations Frank Coonelly, the average first-round bonus, which had increased at a rate of around 30 percent annually in the 1990s, has leveled off the last three years.” – Baseball America, June 2005
- Coonelly represented the Pirates when Jody Gerut filed a grievance over his knee injury. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
UPDATE (4:15): The news is posted on FOXSports.com:
The Pirates’ firing of GM Dave Littlefield was a precursor to their next move—the hiring of Frank Coonelly as their new CEO, according to major-league sources.
Coonelly is Major League Baseball’s chief labor counsel, and draws high marks for his intelligence, with one executive describing him as a “phenomenal” choice.
Thanks to Geeves for help with research on this one.