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12/11 From 1980: Nova, Lawton, Foli Trades; Lyle, Morton, Kelley, Bo, Pena Sign; Sid Wins Hutch; HBD Joe

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  • 1980 – RHP Joe Blanton was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Pirates bought the veteran reliever from Kansas City at the 2015 deadline and he went 5-0/1.57 in his time with the Bucs, turning a strong 21-game stretch run into a $4M free agent contract with the Dodgers. 
Joe Blanton – photo Getty Images
  • 1981 – SS Tim Foli was traded to the California Angels for Brian Harper. Foli was on the downside of his career while Harper spent three years in Pittsburgh as a utilityman, hitting .243. Crazy Horse (he was a fiery 100%’er) Foli returned in 1985 in a trade with the Yankees, but hit just .189 and was released in June. 
  • 1990 – Sid Bream, who overcame three knee operations to help the Pirates capture the NL East championship, was named the winner of the 26th annual Hutch Award. The award goes to a player who overcomes adversity to go on to further accomplishments, named in honor of Fred Hutchinson. Bream hit .270 and drove in 67 runs after sitting out most of the 1989 campaign. It was his last bow as a Buc, as Bream had signed with the Atlanta Braves as an off-season FA the week before. 
  • 1992 – The Pirates signed 32-year-old RHP Alejandro Pena to a one-year/$1.35M contract. He had a strong four-year run before tendonitis laid him low in 1992, and the Bucs were counting on him to bounce back and solidify the back end of their pen. No such luck; he ended up with elbow surgery and missed all of 1993 (although he did restructure the guaranteed money) and didn’t have much going in ‘94, when he was released after posting a 5.02 ERA. He finished his 15-year career in 1996 after stints with Boston, Atlanta and Florida. 
  • 2002 – Pittsburgh brought back RHP Brian Boehringer, 33, inking the reliever to a two-year with an option and $3.8M guaranteed. Boehringer was coming off a 4-4-1/3.39 campaign and appearing in 70 games, but he didn’t have to worry about that option being exercised. BB went 6-5/5.42 in 2003-04 and was bought out, ending his MLB career. 
Brian Boehringer – 2002 Upper Deck 40-Man
  • 2004 – The Bucs swapped out LHP Arthur Rhodes less than a month after they had acquired him to the Indians for OF Matt Lawton. Cleveland sent the Pirates an undisclosed amount to help offset Lawton’s $7.2M salary; the Bucs returned the favor in 2006 when they promised to chip in on Rhode’s guaranteed $4.8M payday. Lawton hit .284 with 10 HR and 44 RBIs before being flipped for Jody Gerut at the 2005 trading deadline. 
  • 2006 – Pittsburgh signed hometown utility guy Don Kelly, born in Butler and a Mt. Lebanon HS/Point Park College alum, to a minor league deal. But sometimes you just can’t go home again. He got into just 25 games with the Bucs during his rookie 2007 campaign and hit .148 during his only local stint. Kelly spent a year in the minors and then went on to play eight more MLB campaigns with Detroit and Miami; he coached and scouted for the Astros and is now Derek Shelton’s bench coach. 
  • 2013 – RHP Charlie Morton signed a contract extension for three years plus an option. He received $4M for 2014 (his last arb year), $8M in 2015 & 2016 plus a club option for 2017 of $9.5M and a $1M buyout, with $500K in possible bonuses. Morton went 15-21/4.21 the next two seasons, was traded to Philly, got hurt and inked a deal with the Astros. He won a WS game there and signed with Tampa Bay, where he became an All-Star in 2019. 
  • 2018 – The Pirates shipped RHP Ivan Nova to the White Sox for rookie-league pitcher RHP Yordi Rosario, 19, and $500K international slot money. Nova was streaky since arriving from the Yankees at the 2016 deadline, stingy with walks and generous with homers allowed, and put together a 25-25/3.99 line with the Bucs in his 2-1/2 seasons. Rosario, from the Dominican, was a lotto ticket projected as an eventual back-end starter as the Bucs restocked their low level farm pitching. 
Jordan Lyles – photo Pirates
  • 2018 – In another winter meeting deal, the club signed free agent RHP Jordan Lyles (it became official on the 17th after his physical), 28, a guy with not much of a track record despite eight years in the league (31-52-2/5.28) with four other clubs, to a one-year/$2.05M deal. The converted starter did have a solid 2018 from the pen (1-0/3.32 in 28 outings), so that performance, no discernible split between L/R hitters, and an increased use of curves and sinkers won him a contract. After a hot start in 2019, he faded and was sent to Milwaukee; in 2020, he jumped ship to the Rangers.


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