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12/8 From 1970: Marte, Casey, Blyleven Trades; Mulholland, Lieber Sign; Rule 5, Non-Tender Losses; Bye Bye BB & Buc Breakup; Go West...

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  • 1977 – The Pirates were part of a Rube Goldberg four-team deal: The Bucs sent OF Al Oliver and SS Nelson Norman to the Texas Rangers. The Atlanta Braves sent 1B Willie Montanez to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent P Tommy Boggs, P Adrian Devine and OF Eddie Miller to the Atlanta Braves, OF Ken Henderson and OF Tom Grieve to the New York Mets, and P Bert Blyleven to the Pirates. The New York Mets sent P Jon Matlack to the Texas Rangers and 1B/OF John Milner to Pittsburgh. From Pittsburgh’s standpoint, they traded Oliver and Norman (who returned in 1982) for Blyleven and Milner. While the trades were byzantine to pull off, Oliver-to-the-Rangers had been on the front burner of the hot stove rumors, stoked after Texas had inked Richie Zisk and Doc Medich in free agency and began showing public interest in Scoops.
Al Oliver – 2017 Panini Diamond Kings
  • 1978 – The Pirates pulled their AAA affiliation from nearby Columbus to the left coast, signing a deal with the Portland Beavers. Pittsburgh would spend the next nine years with a western-based AAA team, leaving Portland for Hawaii and then playing at Vancouver, throwing logistics to the wind. They’ve been with Indy, a considerably more convenient location, since 2005. 
  • 1986 – RHP Vicente Palacios (who they had signed just four days before and were hoping to sneak through) & OF Cecil Espy were lost in the Rule 5 draft to Milwaukee and Texas respectively, though both would rejoin the flock. The Brewers returned Palacios after he failed to make their 25-man roster and he popped up, on-and-off, with the Pirates through the 1992 campaign, going 12-8-6/4.03 in 76 games, filling every role from starter to closer. The Bucs re-signed him as a free agent after his Rangers’ ride, and he hit .254 between 1991-92 off the bench. 
  • 1992 – The Barry Bonds era ended after playing seven seasons in Pittsburgh when he signed a FA contract with the San Francisco Giants worth a then-record $43.75M over six years, turning down a five year/$36M offer from the Yankees. Bonds’ contract with the called for a $2.5M signing bonus and yearly guarantees of $4M, $4.75M, $7.75M, $8M, $8.25M and $8.5M. His sweeteners were a hotel suite when the team was on the road, bonuses for postseason awards and $500,000 deferred from each year’s salary at 9% interest, starting in 1999. 
  • 1993 – The dismantling of Jim Leyland’s clubs by the Bucco suits started making its impact. The Post Gazette wrote that “The Pirates Great Salary Unloading seems to have worked. The MLB Player’s Associated reported that the Pirates fell from eighth to 21st in salary average, dropping from $1,206,012 to $761,073.” The Bucs went into 1993 without Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, John Smiley, Jose Lind, Neal Heaton, Danny Jackson and Steve Buechele, all who had been on the 1992 roster. Bobby Bonilla had left after the 1991 season; AVS left after the 1994 campaign. 
Jon Lieber – 1997 Circa Rave
  • 1997 – The Pirates and RHP Jon Lieber agreed on a two-year contract worth $3.5M, bypassing his first two arbitration seasons. Lieber had 20 wins between 1996-97 to earn the deal, but after an 8-14/4.11 campaign in 1998, he was traded to the Cubs for OF Brant Brown. The Pirates also signed RHP Mike Williams to a $650K deal; he would spend six seasons off-and-on with the Bucs and save 140 games (including 46 in 2002) while making two All-Star appearances in an up-and-down career that saw him traded twice. 
  • 2000 – The Pirates announced the signing of LHP Terry Mulholland from Uniontown and Laurel Highlands HS to a one-year/$2.75M deal, pending his physical (it became official two days later). Terry got into 36 games for the Buccos and put up a 3.72 ERA in ‘01 before being flipped to the LA Dodgers at the deadline for Mike Fetters & minor leaguer Adrian Burnside. For Terry, it was just another hello-goodbye as he tossed for 11 teams over a 20-year career. 
  • 2002 – The Bucs didn’t tender contracts to C Keith Osik, SS Mike Benjamin and RHP Ron Villone. Osik was Pittsburgh’s longest-tenured player with seven years as a Bucco, but hit just .160. Benjamin was an Opening Day starter, as was Villone, but Benji batted just .150 over the campaign while Villone posted a 4-6/5.18 line, making both expendable. 
  • 2003 – The Bucs declined to offer salary arbitration, citing expense, to a half-dozen players: RHP Julian Tavarez, OF Reggie Sanders, OF Matt Stairs, IF Pat Meares, IF Pokey Reese and IF Jeff Reboulet. They all were lost, signing with different clubs with deeper pockets. 
Sean Casey – 2006 Pirates promo
  • 2005 – GM Dave Littlefield completed three trades in two days when Reds traded 1B Sean Casey to the Pirates for LHP David Williams. “The Mayor” (he picked up the title in Cincinnati, where Casey was so popular he could have been elected mayor) was beset by injuries, but hit .296 with three home runs and 29 RBIs in 59 games for his hometown Bucs (he graduated from Upper St Clair HS) before being moved to the Tigers at the deadline. Williams won five games over the next two seasons, had surgery for a herniated disk and never returned to the majors while Casey retired after the 2008 campaign. On the same day, the FO also traded UT Rob Mackowiak to the White Sox for Damaso Marte. Marte tossed for 2-1/2 Bucco seasons before being dealt for Xavier Nady; Mack had three more years left in his MLB career. The trifecta was started by Mark Redman being sent to KC for Jonah Bayliss a day earlier.


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