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12/2 From 1980: Arb Decisions; Stew Deal; Strange Signs; Golden Spanky; El Toro, Bo Go; Barger Prez; Scout Steve; HBD Wyatt

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  • 1987 – Attorney Carl Barger was named team president, replacing Malcolm “Mac” Prine, who had lost an internal battle w/GM Syd Thrift. Barger was one of the architects of the Pittsburgh Associates and well-positioned to take over the day-to-day operations of the club, although he still kept his day job with Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott. His immediate goal was to improve the team’s image and marketing, aiming for attendance to hit the 2M mark. He left in 1991 to become president of the new Florida Marlins’ franchise after he hit his attendance goal in 1990, helped greatly by the Buc’s NLCS club. Westinghouse’s Douglas Danforth was chosen as Chairman of the Board and CEO to replace Barger. 
Wyatt Toregas – photo J. Meric/Getty
  • 1982 - C/coach Wyatt Toregas was born in Fairfax, Virginia. He had a 22-game MLB career with three of those games played with Pittsburgh in 2011 where he went 0-for-4. In November, at the age of 28, Toregas was inked as a player/coach and served in the first base box for the 2012 AAA Indy Indians. In January, 2015, Toregas was named as the first manager of the Bucs’ short-season affiliate, the West Virginia Black Bears, moving up to skipper for the West Virginia Power and Bradenton Marauders. He continued in the Braves organization, resigning as Mississippi Braves manager in June of 2021. 
  • 1987 – C Mike “Spanky” LaValliere was presented with his first (and only) Golden Glove as selected by the coaches and players. Spanky led the NL in throwouts (45%) in his first season as a Bucco (he replaced Tony Pena, who was part of the deal with SL that brought Lavalliere to Pittsburgh) and finished the year with a .300 BA, doing it with both his lumber and leather. It also proved handy for his pocketbook; the honor triggered a $10K contract bonus. 
  • 1991 – After six years as a Pirate, Bobby Bonilla signed as a free agent with the New York Mets, the opening move in the Bucs’ eventual breakup. His five-year, $29M deal made him the game’s highest-paid player at the time. From 1986 to 1991, Bonilla had a .284 batting average, with 114 home runs, and 500 RBI’s. He led the league in extra base hits in 1990 and in doubles in 1991. Bonilla also made the All-Star team four years in a row. Bo is currently being paid about $1.2M by the New York Mets each year up to 2035, as part of a negotiated buyout of a second deal signed in 1999, turning $5.9M due to him in 2000 into $29.8M over 25 years, qualifying him as an All-Star financier, too. 
  • 1997 – Free agent IF Doug Strange signed a two-year/$1.1M deal with the Pirates, sweetened with PA-based bonuses. The 34-year-old hit .173 in 1988 and didn’t make the cut for the second year of the deal, with his solo Bucco season ending his nine-year MLB career. No hard feelings, though – Strange joined the front office in 2002 and is still a Pirates suit involved with evaluation and scouting. 
Doug Strange – 1988 Pacific Aurora
  • 2013 - C Chris Stewart was traded to the Bucs by the New York Yankees for a PTBNL, who ended up being minor league pitcher Kyle Haynes. Stew played through two option seasons before signing up for another two-year stint (with a club option for a third) following 107 games and a .292 BA with the Pirates as the caddy from 2014-15. Stew got into just 34 games in 2016 and had season-ending surgery on his knee in September. He barely topped the Mendoza Line in his final two Bucco campaigns and was non-tendered after 2017, next playing for Atlanta and Arizona before retiring in 2019. The Pirates also lost two fan favorites players on this date when 1B/OF Garrett Jones and C Michael “The Fort” McKenry were allowed to walk. 
  • 2015 - Former #1 pick (second overall) in 2008, 1B Pedro Alvarez, was non-tendered and became a free agent. Pedro hit 131 homers in 742 games for Pittsburgh, but his inability to solve lefties (.203 BA), strikeouts (809) and fielding woes made his projected $8M arbitration award too pricey for the Bucs, which had tried unsuccessfully to move him to an AL club for two years running. He went on to play three years with Baltimore, with 2018 being his last campaign. Jaff Decker, a depth outfielder, was also non-tendered. Jaff served as organizational depth for Tampa, getting into 19 games, and got a cup of coffee with Oakland in 2017, his last MLB posting. 
  • 2016 - The Pirates kept the majority of their eight-man arb class. The FO tendered P’s Tony Watson, Juan Nicasio, Gerrit Cole, Drew Hutchison & Jared Hughes and signed Wade LeBlanc (one year + option, $800K guaranteed); they also tendered SS Jordy Mercer. The casualties were P Jeff Locke, who was DFA’ed, and C Eric Fryer, who was non-tendered as a pre-arb player. 
  • 2019 – The Pirates brought in Steve Sanders, 31, the Director of Amateur Scouting for Toronto, as an AGM, becoming new GM Ben Cherington’s first front office hire (it was officially announced the next day). His focus was on amateur/international scouting and MLB draft. The two had a history: Sanders was a scout for Boston in 2012 when Cherington was the GM, and was the Blue Jays Scouting Director during Cherington’s stint with Toronto. Sanders replaced Kyle Stark, who had been relieved of duty in mid-November. 
Chris Stratton – 2021 photo Pirates
  • 2020 - The Pirates had 15 guys eligible for arb, and today was the deadline for dealing with their contracts. IF Erik Gonzalez was signed to a one-year/$1.225 million contract (he made $725K last season), while RHP Michael Feliz and RHP Jameson Taillon also agreed on deals. Arb-eligible players RHP Trevor Williams and 1B/OF Jose Osuna had already been released. The remainder of the arb guys (10) were tendered and decided to go through the hearing process. They were 1B Josh Bell, LHP Steven Brault, RHP Kyle Crick, 2B Adam Frazier, RHP Chad Kuhl, 1B/3B Colin Moran, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Richard Rodriguez, C Jake Stallings and RHP Chris Stratton (who was the only man left on the roster by the end of the 2021 season). In another move, RHP Clay Holmes, who was ailing with a bad arm, was non-tendered (he was a year shy of arb).


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