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7/30 Deadline Deals: Jack Wilson, Joakim Soria, Joey Bats, J-Hay, Lunchbox Hero, Joe Blanton, Felipe Trades

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  • 2000 – The Pirates announced a deal after a 9-8 loss to the Padres: the Cardinals sent young SS Jack Wilson to the Bucs for LHP Jason Christiansen. Wilson would be the Bucs starting SS from 2001-09, winning an AS berth and Gold Glove in 2004, while Christiansen would toss through 2005, with only one strong year during that span. Even though trade talks were in the final stages, Jimmy Leyland broke with tradition and used Christiansen during the contest, as the swap wasn’t finalized until later in the game. He was, btw, hammered for four runs in 1/3 IP, which fortunately didn’t deter the Redbirds.
  • 2001 – The Bucs sent RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal to the Giants for OF Armando Rios and RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt went 7-1 the rest of the year for SF and then signed a big four-year contract. Vander Wal wason four teams in the following four years, retiring in 2004. Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery two months later. When he returned, he went 10-17/5.82 over four years and then left for Japan. 
Jose Bautista – 2004 Bowman Chrome
  • 2004 – The Pirates traded RHP Kris Benson and IF Jeff Keppinger to the Mets for 3B Jose Bautista (who they had lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft), IF Ty Wigginton and RHP Matt Peterson. Bautista became the tenth major leaguer to play for four teams in a season, having been on the rosters of Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In fact, he was actually on five teams, as he was acquired by the Mets from the Royals but sent to Pittsburgh the same day. Benson, the other key player in the deal, won just 27 more games in his career. Interestingly, GM Dave Littlefield reportedly rejected an offer for Benson made by the Phillies for a power-hitting prospect named Ryan Howard, who would eventually become a NL MVP. The Bucs thought they had a Howard clone already in their system with Brad Eldred. After falling domino was 3B Chris Styne, who was released the next day, made redundant by Wigginton.
  • 2009 – The Pirates shipped lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs in exchange for IF Josh Harrison and RHPs Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio. Gorzo became a bullpen guy for several clubs, Grabow’s last season was 2011, Hart & Acasio succumbed to injuries and J-Hay ended up the keeper of the deal. For the Pirates, it was the end of a 10-day purge. Besides Gorzo and Grabow, they had earlier dealt away Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ian Snell and Adam LaRoche; Harrison and Ronny Cedeno were the only prospects netted from those three deals to become starting players for Pittsburgh. 
  • 2011 – The Pirates traded minor league 1B Aaron Baker to the Orioles for 1B Derrek Lee, the first time that Pittsburgh was a buyer at the trade deadline since dealing for SS Shawon Dunston in 1997 to bolster the “Freak Show” lineup. Baker never made it past the AA level while Lee hit .337 with seven long balls for the Pirates in 28 games (he missed a month with a wrist injury) as Lyle Overbay’s replacement before retiring at the end of the year at age 35. 
  • 2012 – In a trade of 2006 first rounders, Pittsburgh sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Toronto for OF Travis Snider. The change of scenery didn’t help much – Lincoln’s MLB career ended after the 2014 season and Travis has bounced around between AAA and the show since. 
  • 2015 – Keep the phone charged: The Pirates acquired veteran RHP Joe Blanton, 34, from the Royals for $660K after he had been DFA’ed. Blanton went 5-0/1.57 for the Pirates during the dog days. RHP Vance Worley was released to make room for him. In a bigger deal, RHP Joakim Soria was picked up by the Pirates from the Tigers for Altoona SS prospect JaCoby Jones. The Detroit closer, slotted to work the back end of the bullpen behind Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, made 29 Bucco appearances with a 2.03 ERA, one save and 11 holds. Finally, IF Justin Sellers, who had been DFA’ed, was sent to the Chicago White Sox for cash. 
Joe Blanton – 2015 photo Getty Images
  • 2016 - The Pirates sent closer Mark Melancon and $500K to the Washington Nationals for a pair of hard throwing lefties (both touched 100), reliever Felipe (Rivero) Vazquez and prospect Taylor Hearns. The Shark was a bullpen backender that came over in the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston. In four years w/Pirates, he went 10-10-174/1.80. Vazquez was on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite back-end relievers after taking over the closers’ job in 2017 from Tony Watson until he was jailed for child porn. Hearn was a 21-year-old lanky southpaw with an upper 90s heater and control issues; he’s now with the Rangers. He was already on the Bucco radar; he was the Pirates 22nd-round pick in 2012, but didn’t sign and went to Oklahoma Baptist. As for Melancon, he turned into a costly Nat rental, later signing with the Giants and later, the Braves.


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