Pirates' GM Neal Huntington second in executive-of-the-year vote

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The Pirates return to the postseason after 21 years was not enough to earn general manager Neal Huntington the Sporting News Executive of the Year award Monday night at the league's annual general manager meetings in Orlando, Fla.

The award was presented to Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, whose Red Sox went from last place in 2012 to World Series champs in 2013.

Cherington earned 15 votes from his peers, and Huntington was next with nine, according to the publication. A panel of 31 Major League Baseball executives voted for the award, which has been given out every season since 1936.

Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore collected four votes, and Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren collected three.

The Red Sox have a payroll that nearly doubles the Pirates, but became the story of the season after a dreadful 2012.

Cherington is credited with a series of moves that made the Red Sox contenders again, from firing Bobby Valentine and hiring John Farrell to manage the team to dumping the contracts of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and saving money by passing on several lavish free agents to build the team.

Huntington also made several key several acquisitions in the past year to give the Pirates the tools to win 94 games, and with close to a $67 million payroll.

He landed catcher Russell Martin, along with left-hander Francisco Liriano in the offseason, then made deals with the New York Mets for Marlon Byrd and the Minnesota Twins for Justin Morneau to help in the pennant chase.

The Pirates have candidates for two more major awards this week: Clint Hurdle is a finalist for manager of the year which will be announced today, and Andrew McCutchen is a finalist for MVP, which will be announced Thursday.

Huntington and Cherington played baseball at Amherst College in Massachusetts -- Huntington graduated in 1991, while Cherington graduated in 1996.

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.

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