This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 4th, Pirates Get Don Slaught, Swing Five-Player Deal with Royals

One of the slower dates for Pittsburgh Pirates born on this day. Just three players and one of them is very recent. We also have two trades of note.

The Players

Joe Musgrove, pitcher for the 2018-2020 Pirates. He was first round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school in 2011, selected 46th overall. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League, while also making one appearances in the Appalachian League in 2011, combining to go 1-1, 4.01 in 24.2 innings. He was traded to the Houston Astros during the 2012 season and pitched briefly for both teams in the Appalachian League that season. In 2013, Musgrove was back in the Gulf Coast League, where he went 1-3, 4.41 in 32.2 innings, with 30 strikeouts. The next year he jumped to the New York-Penn League with Tri-City, where he went 7-1, 2.81 in 77 innings. After four years in short-season ball, he played in Low-A, High-A and Double-A during the 2015 season, pitching between 25.2 and 45 innings at each level. He combined to go 12-1, 1.88 in 100.2 innings, with 99 strikeouts. In 2016, Musgrove allowed one earned run in 26.1 innings with Corpus Christi of the Double-A Texas League, then pitched 59 innings for Fresno of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a 3.81 ERA and 57 strikeouts. He debuted in the majors on August 2nd and went 4-4, 4.06 in 62 inning, with 55 strikeouts.

Musgrove made one appearance for Fresno in 2017 and threw seven shutout innings. He made 15 starts and 23 relief appearances for the Astros that season, going 7-8, 4.77 in 109.1 innings, with 98 strikeouts. That was the year that the Astros cheated their way to a World Series victory, but Musgrove was a bit player throughout the playoffs, giving up six runs over 6.2 innings in the entire postseason. After the season, he was one of four players who the Pirates acquired in the Gerrit Cole trade. Musgrove ended up bringing the Pirates the most value in the deal, though much of that value came as the large return when he got traded away after three seasons. He went 6-9, 4.06 in 115.1 innings over 19 starts in 2018, missing time due to a Spring Training shoulder injury that required a handful of rehab starts in the minors. In 2019, Musgrove went 11-12, 4.44 in 170.1 innings over 31 starts (and one relief outing), with 157 strikeouts. During the shortened 2020 season, he had a 1-5, 3.86 record, with 55 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. He missed some time due to an ankle and a triceps injury. After the season, the Pirates dealt Musgrove to the San Diego Padres in a trade that included three teams and it netted them five prospects. He had a strong season in San Diego’s pitcher-friendly park, going 11-9, 3.18 in 181.1 innings, with 203 strikeouts. He has one more year left before free agency. His record currently sits at 40-47, 4.02 in 678 innings.

Jerry D’Arcy, outfielder for the 1911 Pirates. He played just two Major League games, one in center field and one as a pinch-hitter. D’Arcy joined the 1911 Pirates in late September and went 0-for-6 at the plate. He went 0-for-5 in the first game, though manager Fred Clarke allowed him to bat with two outs in the ninth and the tying run (which was Clarke) on second base.  D’Arcy grounded out to shortstop. According to the local newspaper, he looked well in the field with some fine catches in his first game, although one of his tougher catches was a ball that right fielder Chief Wilson had lined up for an easy catch and D’Arcy cut in front of him. The report also said that he “Got down the first base line with great alacrity”, which has now been added to my scouting phrase vocabulary (it’s actually defined as brisk and cheerful readiness).  He was playing for the Gadsden Steel Makers of the Southeastern League at the time the Pirates purchased his contract in mid-August of 1911. That team was a Class-D ball club, equal to making the jump from Class-A ball to the majors now. However, he also played very briefly for Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association earlier in the year.

Despite being announced as purchased on August 18th, D’Arcy didn’t join the Pirates right away. His total time in Pittsburgh was short, reporting to the team on September 21st and he left October 3rd, six days before the season ended. The Pirates allowed five players to leave early, including pitcher Cliff Averett, who never appeared in a big league game. D’Arcy was put on the Pirates reserve list for the 1912 season, but he was released to Indianapolis of the American Association on December 20, 1911. He played pro ball until at least 1917, then again in 1920, but his minor league stats are incomplete, likely due to the spelling confusion and numerous players from that era with the same last name..sort of. He was referred to as “Dorsey” during his time in Pittsburgh and there are multiple minor league players from that era who are known only as Dorsey, without any other information. The actual correct spelling of his name was made known to Pirates fans on the day they released him.

D’Arcy played briefly for teams from Springfield and Decauter in 1912 (an injury limited his effectiveness early on), as well as a time back in Gadsden, but his only records show him playing for Henderson of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League, where he supposed got a lot of attention from scouts and was signed by Baltimore of the International League. However, his 1913 stats show him playing a full season for Bonham of the Class-D Texas-Oklahoma League, where he hit .275 in 121 games. He played for Bonham and Denison of the Texas-Oklahoma League in 1914, while also seeing time with McAlester of the Class-D Western Association. He remained in the Western Association for the next three seasons of pro ball, playing for three different teams, though he played in Denison (same town, different league) during parts of all three seasons. In 1920, he was back in the Western Association with the Drumright Drummers, where he hit .238 in 64 games. In 1921, he was on the ineligible list of the Western Association.

Johnny Meador, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. His entire big league career consisted of two starts and ten relief appearances, all with the Pirates. Meador was 27-years-old at the time, a veteran of five minor league seasons. He debuted in pro ball in 1914 with Winston-Salem of the Class-D North Carolina State League. He had a 10-10 record in 178 innings over 29 games, with a 55:77 BB/SO ratio. He remained with Winston-Salem in 1915, going 5-9 in 17 games, with 108 innings pitched. He moved up to Class-C in 1916, spending the season with Charleston of the South Atlantic League, where he went 10-9 in 187 innings over 23 games. While his ERA isn’t available, records indicate that he allowed just 1.93 runs per nine innings, and he had an 0.91 WHIP. In 1917, he split the season almost evenly between Charleston and Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association. Meador had a 13-2 record with Charleston and a 5-8 record for Nashville, though there wasn’t a substantial difference in his runs per nine innings in each spot. After missing all of 1918 due to the war (more on that below), he spent the 1919 season with Galveston of the Class-B Texas League.

Meador was purchased from Galveston on August 12, 1919, though it was said that he wouldn’t report to the club until his minor league season was over (some articles said he would be there around September 1st). He was credited with posting a 17-16 record for a seventh place team in 1919 with Galveston, though when he signed with the Pirates one local newspaper said that he had a 15-6 record at the time, so his season didn’t end well. On September 21st, he pitched a doubleheader for Galveston and took the loss in both games, despite allowing two runs in each contest. He almost didn’t pitch for the Pirates after going to Spring Training in 1920. On April 9, 1920, they decided to send him to Wichita Falls of the Texas League, but there was a disagreement about his contract/services between the two clubs and the Pirates kept him instead. He made his big league debut eight games into the 1920 season. He threw five shutout innings in relief, then didn’t pitch until a week later. He was used just four times in the month of May, four times in June and three times in July. Meador did not fare well in his two starts, allowing a total of 12 runs in 9.1 innings. In relief, he had a 1.67 ERA over 27 innings. His last Major League game in mid-July was also his last game as a pro. On July 23rd, he jumped from the Pirates to Oil City, which played independent ball.

Jumping from organized ball to independent ball usually spelled the end of a player’s career in organized ball and that almost held true for Meador. He stayed in baseball for quite some time after jumping ship in Pittsburgh, playing for multiple teams from 1920-24, including a club from Mount Carmel, PA in 1924. He then applied for reinstatement into pro ball, which was allowed by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in late April of 1926. He had to return to the Pirates at that point, and they sent him Columbia of the South Atlantic League, which was a Pirates-backed affiliate at the time. He never pitched for the club due to a sore arm he developed while training. On June 3rd, he was released, officially ending his pro career. Meador spent exactly one year in the Navy during WWI, spending time on the U.S.S. Montana from December 13, 1917 until December 13, 1918.

The Transactions

On this date in 1973 the Pirates traded pitcher Nelson Briles and infielder Fernando Gonzalez to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick, utility player Kurt Bevacqua and minor leaguer Winston Cole. This deal basically worked out even for the teams, with Briles and Kirkpatrick as the only two who saw significant time with their new team. Cole never made the majors and Bevacqua ended up back with the Royals mid-1974 in a trade that involved a minor league player and cash. Gonzalez ended up back with the Pirates in 1975, but Kansas City sold him to the New York Yankees just five months after this deal. Briles went 11-13, 4.14 in 215 innings with the Royals over two seasons before he was traded to the Texas Rangers. Kirkpatrick stayed in Pittsburgh through early 1977, though nearly half of his playing time came in 1974 when he put up a .714 OPS in 116 games. He was a bench player during the last 2+ seasons, finishing with a .676 OPS in 309 games for the Pirates.

On this date in 1989 the Pirates traded pitcher Jeff Robinson and minor leaguer Willie Smith to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher Don Slaught. The trade was a one-sided win for the Pirates, as Slaught spent six seasons in Pittsburgh, including three years in which the Pirates won the NL East. Robinson pitched just one year out of the Yankees bullpen before leaving via free agency, and Smith played just one partial season in the majors, which wasn’t until 1994 with the St Louis Cardinals. Slaught hit .305 with 21 homers and 184 RBIs in 475 games for the Pirates. In his 16-year career he accumulated 19.3 WAR, which was split 10.3 in six years with the Pirates and 9.0 over ten seasons elsewhere. Robinson was a reliable reliever who occasionally started. In his three seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 3.78 ERA in 292.2 innings. He filled a similar role with the Yankees, posting a 3.45 ERA in 88.2 innings. The Pirates got great value out of Smith, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent. He had just a handful of Double-A appearances before the trade, all as a reliever.