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11/17 From 1990: Bay, Kendall Big Deals; Bucs Land Benjy, Hunter; '92 Expansion Losses; Collins To Mets; KDKA Contract; HBD JT & Elias

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  • 1990 - C Elias Diaz was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He debuted with Pittsburgh in 2015 and was up briefly in 2016, but an elbow injury and later a case of cellulitis derailed the season. He was considered a strong defensive catcher though an iffy hitter, and saw more action in 2017 when Francisco Cervelli was injured. He showed the ability to handle the stick in 2018 after a slow campaign the previous two seasons, batting .286 with 10 homers but backtracked in 2019 both with the glove and lumber. The Bucs cut him loose and he was picked up by the Rockies. 
  • 1992 - The Pirates lost OF Alex Cole (the Pirates hoped that offseason shoulder surgery would let him slip through) to the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft, along with LHP Danny Jackson and SS Ramon Martinez, who went to the Florida Marlins. The Fish flipped Jackson to the Phils, where he won 26 games in 1993-94 and earned an All-Star nod. 
  • 1993 – Pittsburgh picked up 1B/OF Brian Hunter from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a PTBNL (minor league utilityman Jose Delgado, who never advanced past AA ball). The Pirates were after some right-handed power, and Hunter did show some punch, hitting 11 homers in 252 PA, but his .227 BA was an anchor, and he was flipped to the Reds at the deadline for another PTBNL (farm OF’er Micah Franklin, who was waived after a year at AAA Calgary). Hunter played in the show through 2000, seeing time with six teams over a nine-year career and posting a .234 BA. 
Brian Hunter – 1994 Fleer Extra Bases
  • 1993 - The Pirates lost a bullpen coach and the Astros gained a manager when Houston hired Terry Collins away from the Bucs. The move launched Terry on a 13-year voyage as skipper of the ‘Stros, Angels and notably the Mets, which he guided to a pennant in 2015 and still serves as a special assistant to the GM. Collins had honed his managerial skills when he led the Bucs’ AAA Buffalo Bisons for three years before joining the big club. Terry was replaced on Jim Leyland’s staff by Spin Williams. 
  • 1993 - RHP JT (Jonathan Trey) Brubaker was born in Springfield, Ohio. A sixth round draft pick in 2015 from Akron, he was the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018. Brubaker was the sixth starter and sent to Indy to stay sharp in 2019; instead he hurt his elbow and it cost him nearly the entire season. JT broke camp with the club in 2020 to finally earn MLB status and made his first start in early August. In 2021, he was part of the rotation and went 5-13/5.31 in 24 starts, doing well enough despite the counting numbers to earn a long look for a starting spot on the 2022 staff. 
  • 1998 – The Bucs signed free agent IF Mike Benjamin to a two-year contract worth $924K. Benjy was brought in to challenge Tony Womack at 2B and won before camp started; Tony was traded to Arizona in February. But in a bit of a twist, Mike didn’t replace Womack (Warren Morris did) but instead claimed an unsettled SS position. Benjamin later signed a two-year extension worth $1.4M and played for Pittsburgh through the 2002 campaign, missing ‘01 due to injury, and hit .239 while manning all four infield positions. 
  • 1999 - The Pirates announced a continuation of their radio contract with KDKA-AM, which was already at 44 straight seasons, inking a seven-year deal with the financials undisclosed. KD promised to include its FM family of WDSY, WBZZ & WZPT in year-round Pirates promotions, and the station was allowed to build its own radio studio at PNC Park when it opened. One thing that didn’t change: the broadcast team of Lanny Frattare, Steve Blass, Bob Walk and Greg Brown returned intact through the 2000 campaign. 
Jason Kendall – 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond
  • 2000 - C Jason Kendall signed the richest contract in team history. The $60M, six-year contract extension w/$4M signing bonus had a base salary of $6M in 2002 and peaked at $13M in 2007. To this point from his rookie year of 1996, Kendall had hit .300 or better every season except 1997, when he hit .294. He became the second highest paid active catcher in baseball, behind only Mike Piazza. He was traded to the Oakland A’s in 2004 before his salary jumped to seven figures. 
  • 2005 - Jason Bay agreed to an $18.25M, four-year contract that ran through his arbitration-eligible seasons after making $355K in 2005. He hit .296 with 58 HR and 183 RBI in 2004-05 and began his career by winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. The only sticking point was a fifth year that would have been during Bay’s first free agent season; his side wanted a guarantee while the Bucs preferred to make it an option year. At loggerheads on that issue, the deal was settled after a four-year term was finally accepted. Jay Bay was traded to Boston in 2008, before the contract ran out, and had a couple of solid years with the Red Sox before moving on to the NY Mets, where injuries effectively derailed his career.


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