Jason Kendall is rejoining the Pirates, as the club is going to be hiring him to a player developmental role, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic. As noted by Biertempfel, the move isn’t technically official yet, with Kendall’s job still not having a title. Semantics aside, the duties will seemingly revolve around working with the club’s minor leaguers. “Put it this way, you’ll see me around,” Kendall says. He later elaborated: “I told the Pirates whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it. I’ll go down and watch minor-league teams and certain players. Catching is what I know, but I also can talk to the kids as someone who’s been there, done that.”
Of course, this is a homecoming for Kendall, 47, as he was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 1992 draft and spent the first nine years of his career with the black and yellow. “It just feels like I’m back home,” Kendall said. “This is the team that drafted me. This is the city that watched me grow up through good times and bad times.”
After retiring in 2012, Kendall worked as a special assistant coach with the Royals from 2012 to 2018. In late 2019, he expressed his interest in taking over the vacant manager position in Pittsburgh after the firing of Clint Hurdle. However, that job eventually went to Derek Shelton, who is now in his third season as the Bucs’ skipper.
The Pirates have performed quite poorly since Shelton took over, though that’s no fault of his. The club has been clearly in rebuild mode for quite some time. With the team focused on the future instead of the present, player development will be extremely important for the organization, especially given their low-spending habits. Up until the recent extension of Ke’Bryan Hayes, the club’s largest contract was the $60MM extension given to Kendall himself way back in the year 2000. That means that the work of the team’s player development staff, which now includes Kendall, will be a key factor in the trajectory of the club in the years to come.