This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 4th, Trades for Mota, Easler and Sanguillen

Four Pittsburgh Pirates trades and four former players born on this date. We also have current Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller, celebrating his 26th birthday today. He will get a bio when he’s a former player.

The Trades

On this date in 1978, the Pirates sent Miguel Dilone, Elias Sosa and Mike Edwards to the Oakland A’s to get veteran catcher Manny Sanguillen, who was traded to Oakland 17 months earlier for manager Chuck Tanner. In his one season in Oakland, Sanguillen hit .275 with 58 RBIs in 152 games. Edwards was a 25-year-old infielder at the time, with seven games of Major League experience, all coming in September of 1977. Dilone was a 23-year-old outfielder, who spent parts of four seasons with the Pirates, getting into 75 games total. He had a .145 average, but he managed to steal 21 bases. Sosa was a 26-year-old reliever, who had six seasons of experience in the majors. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, posting a 1.98 ERA in 44 appearances. The Pirates had purchased him from the Dodgers two months earlier.

Edwards spent three seasons with the A’s, the first two as an everyday player. He hit .252 in 310 games, mostly playing second base. Dilone hit .229 in 135 games for the A’s in 1978, stealing 50 bases, but also led the league with 23 times caught stealing. He played 30 games with the A’s in 1979 before being sold to the Chicago Cubs. He would play for the Pirates again in 1983 for a brief time. Sosa pitched great in one season for the A’s before leaving via free agency. He had a record of 8-2, 2.64 with 14 saves in 109 innings pitched. Sanguillen would play three seasons with the Pirates after the trade, receiving less playing time each season until he was down to a pinch-hitting role in 1980, occasionally playing first base. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1980, along with Bert Blyleven, in a deal that did not work out well, though Sanguillen never played for the Indians (or anyone else) after the trade. As far as value, Sanguillen was slightly below replacement level each year with the Pirates, compiling -1.5 WAR after the deal. The A’s got just 0.3 WAR from the deal, but it was all from Sosa’s one season (2.7 WAR). Edwards and Dilone both put up negative WAR.

On this date in 1977, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Randy Sealy to the California Angels in exchange for outfielder Mike Easler. This deal was one-sided as far as what happened in their baseball career, but Easler would be involved in two more deals before he finally started paying off for the Pirates. Easler would be sold to the Boston Red Sox in October of 1978, but returned to the Pirates before the start of the next season in a separate deal, which ended up being a big win for the Pirates. With the 1977-78 Pirates, he played just ten big league games. Sealy was just 22 years old when the trade occurred, a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1973, who had already made it to Triple-A by 1976. The Angels gave up on him quickly after a poor start in Double-A, and by the beginning of 1978 he had already been with the Kansas City Royals and then back to the Pirates organization. Sealy lasted just ten games in 1978, missed all of 1979, then finished his career in the minors in 1980. He never played in the majors.

On this date in 1963, the Pirates traded outfielder Howie Goss to the Houston Colt .45’s in exchange for outfielder Manny Mota. This trade was one-sided in the Pirates favor. Mota hit for average in the minors, but he did not hit well his first season in the majors as a 24-year-old with the 1962 San Francisco Giants. He was traded by San Francisco to the Colt .45’s four months prior to this trade. Goss was a 27-year-old rookie in 1962 for the Pirates, hitting .243 with ten RBIs in 89 games. He would end up playing just one season in Houston, hitting .209 with 128 strikeouts, which was the second highest total in the league. He did not appear in the majors again after 1964. Mota ended up playing six seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .297 with 252 runs and 203 RBIs in 642 games. He hit .332 in 116 games in 1966, then .321 in 120 games during the following season. After slumping down to .281 in 1968, the Pirates lost him in the expansion draft to the Montreal Expos. As far as value, Mota had 6.6 WAR with the Pirates, while Goss had 0.4 with Houston.

On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded Jason Thompson to the Montreal Expos for two minor leaguers, Ben Abner and Ronnie Giddens. The Pirates didn’t get anything from the two returning players, but they did shed the high salary of Thompson, then watched him hit .196 through the end of June before he was released, which ended his career. Abner was a light hitting 22-year-old outfielder, who briefly made it to Double-A before his career ended after the 1987 season. Giddens was a 24-year-old infielder, who lasted just one season in the Pirates organization before his career ended. He never made it to Double-A. Thompson hit .259 in 671 games with the Pirates over five seasons, collecting 93 homers, 354 RBIs and 430 walks. He was an All-Star during the 1982 season when he hit .284 with 31 homers, 101 RBIs and 101 walks. In 1985, he hit .241 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs in 123 games.

The Players

John Bormann, catcher for the 2017 Pirates. Bormann has a throwback story similar to many cases from the early years of baseball when players were just in the right place at the right time and they lasted just one game. On April 30, 2017, the Pirates were on the road playing the Miami Marlins. Starting catcher Francisco Cervelli was unable to play that day due to a right foot injury, but the team found that out on short notice, not giving them enough time to get someone to the majors from Triple-A. Bormann was one of three catchers in Charlotte (Florida) with the Bradenton Marauders of the High-A Florida State League, but they other two were potential prospects who the Pirates likely didn’t want to add to the 40-man roster that early in their career. Bormann was the third-string catcher, hitting .136 in seven games at the time. He made the drive over to Miami and got to the park just after the game started. In the ninth inning with the score 10-3, Bormann got to pinch-hit for Josh Harrison and he struck out swinging. The next day he was optioned back to Bradenton and designated for assignment.

Bormann was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 19th round out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. He decided to return to college for his senior year and the Pirates selected him in the 24th round in 2015. He spent his first year with Bristol of the short-season Appalachian League, where he hit .235, with a .537 OPS in 25 games. In 2016, he spent the year in Low-A with West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. Bormann hit .243 with 22 runs, nine doubles, two homers and 20 RBIs in 52 games. Those two homers were the only ones he hit during his pro career. During his magical 2017 season, he also had a brief stint in Triple-A (Indianapolis of the International League) as an injury replacement, but most of the year was spent in Bradenton. He batted .194 with a .529 OPS in 41 games between both stops. Bormann moved around in 2018 to wherever he was needed. He ended up playing for West Virginia, Bradenton and he made his first appearance in Double-A (Altoona of the Eastern League), though he played just 31 games total. He combined to hit .228 with 12 runs, five doubles and seven RBIs. He was a third-string catcher with Bradenton again in 2019, though he wasn’t on the active roster most of the time, and instead he was being utilized as a player-coach. He played just five games and went 0-for-13 with a walk at the plate. He returned to college in 2020 to graduate, and at the same time he retired as a player. Bormann hit .220/.292/.286 in 154 minor league games, though he was known more for his strong defensive skills than his bat.

Jim Fregosi, infielder for the 1977-78 Pirates. He was already in his 17th season in the majors when the Pirates traded outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick to the Texas Rangers to get him on June 15, 1977. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star in his career, but he was also seven seasons removed from his last All-Star selection at the time of the deal. He played a full season of minor league ball at 18 years old in 1960, and he was in the majors by September of 1961. He was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox, but his stay lasted one year in their system. His pro career began six levels from the majors in the Class-D Sophomore League with Alpine, where he hit .267 in 112 games, with 96 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs and 78 walks. After the season, the Los Angeles Angels took him in the expansion draft. He moved up to Dallas-Fort Worth of the Triple-A American Association in 1961, skipping four levels in the process. He batted .254 in 150 games, with 54 runs, 18 doubles, six homers, 50 RBIs and 50 walks. Fregosi debuted that year with the Angels at 19 years old and hit .222 in 11 games. He split the 1962 season between Dallas-Fort Worth and the majors, then remained in the big leagues as a player until 1978, and then as a manager until 2000. He batted .283 with a .738 OPS in 64 games of Triple-A in 1962. Fregosi hit .291 with 15 runs and 23 RBIs in 58 games for the Angels in 1962, then took over full-time at shortstop the next season.

Fregosi received MVP support (23rd place finish) for the first of eight straight seasons in 1963 when he hit .287 with 29 doubles, 12 triples, nine homers, 50 RBIs and 83 runs scored in 154 games. He was an All-Star the next year when he hit .277 with 86 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, 18 homers, 72 RBIs and 72 walks in 147 games. His .833 OPS in 1964 was the highest of his career for a full season. He finished 13th in the MVP voting. Fregosi batted .277 again in 1965, though he played 161 and saw both his extra-base hits (41) and walks (54) drop, leading to a .744 OPS. He also had 66 runs scored, 64 RBIs and 13 steals, all leading to a 21st place finish in the MVP race. He played all 162 games in 1966 and made his second All-Star appearance. He would end up making the All-Star team in five straight seasons (1966-70). He batted .252 in 1965, with 32 doubles, seven triples, 13 homers, 67 RBIs, 67 walks, 78 runs scored, and he set a career high with 17 stolen bases.

Fregosi batted .290 with 75 runs, 23 doubles, nine homers, 56 RBIs and 49 walks in 151 games in 1967. He won the Gold Glove award for shortstops for the only time in his career, and had his highest MVP finish (seventh). Offense around baseball was low in 1968, which led to a change with the pitching mound heights. Fregosi saw his offense suffer like many players that year. He hit .244 with a .680 OPS. He managed a highlight on offense despite those numbers, leading the league with 13 triples. In 159 games, he had 77 runs, 21 doubles, nine homers, 49 RBIs and 60 walks. He finished 15th in the MVP voting. Fregosi followed that up with an uptick in offense in 1969, hitting .260 in 161 games, with 78 runs, 22 doubles, 12 homers and a career high 93 walks. After improving his OPS by 64 points in 1969, he had a big season at the plate in 1970. Fregosi set career highs that year with 22 homers, 33 doubles, 82 RBIs and 95 runs scored. He hit .278 in 158 games that year, which led to an .8132 OPS and a 12th place finish in the MVP voting. That was the last time that he made the All-Star team or received MVP votes. His numbers really fell off the next season, with a .233 average and a.643 OPS in 107 games. He was then part of an awful trade with the New York Mets, at least from the New York side of things. The Angels received a young Nolan Ryan and three other players in a four-for-one deal for Fregosi.

In his first season with the Mets, Fregosi hit .232 in 101 games, with 31 runs, 32 RBIs and a .655 OPS. It was the last time that he played 100+ games in a season. Just 45 games into the 1973 season, he was sold to the Texas Rangers, where he remained until he joined the Pirates four years later. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .234 with a .623 OPS. He improved after the deal, hitting .268 in 45 games, with 25 runs, six homers and 16 RBIs. Fregosi became a bench player in Texas, topping out at 78 games played during the 1974 season. That year he hit .261 with 31 runs, 12 homers and 34 RBIs. In 1975, he batted .262 in 77 games, with 25 runs, seven homers and 33 RBIs. He was an above average shortstop in his earlier days, but the Rangers had him splitting between third base and first base. In 1976, Fregosi hit .233 in 58 games, with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. After missing the first month of the season, he played his final 13 games for the Rangers, hitting .250 with a homer. That was followed by the June 15th trade to the Pirates. In his three full seasons and two partial seasons with the Rangers, he batted .257 with 28 homers and 100 RBIs in 271 games.

For the Pirates in 1977, Fregosi played 36 games, splitting his time between first base and pinch-hitting. He batted .286 in 71 plate appearances, drawing 13 walks and driving in 16 runs. In 1978, Fregosi played 20 games for the Pirates before being released on June 1st, ending his playing career. He went 4-for-20 at the plate, with six walks, three runs scored and an RBI. He was released so he could take over as the manager of the California Angels, going right from Pittsburgh to the helm of the Angels for their game on June 2nd. Fregosi went 62-54 over the rest of the season. He remained on with the Angels for 2 1/2 more seasons, then also managed the 1986-88 Chicago White Sox, the 1991-96 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1999-2000 Toronto Blue Jays. He had a career 1,028-1,094 record in 15 seasons. He led the Phillies to the 1993 World Series, his lone first place finish. That year was his only winning season in Philadelphia. During his playing career, Fregosi hit .265 with 264 doubles, 78 triples, 151 homers and 706 RBIs, 844 runs scored and 715 walks in 1,902 games. He put up 48.8 career WAR. He never played a single postseason game in 18 seasons.

Les Bartholomew, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates. Bartholomew got his start in pro ball at 23 years old with the Burlington Bees of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League in 1926, where he went 11-11 in 25 appearances, while pitching 211 innings. On June 30, 1926, he was purchased by Pirates scout Chick Fraser on behalf of Columbia of the Class-B South Atlantic League, along with his catcher Thomas Farr. The two players were allowed to finish the 1926 season with Burlington. Bartholomew went 14-15, 3.77 in 265 innings while playing for Columbia during the 1927 season. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 11, 1927, but he didn’t join the team until Spring Training the next year. Bartholomew made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1928 and he got hit hard as a reliever in his big league debut on Opening Day against the St Louis Cardinals. He came in with a 6-3 deficit in the sixth inning and allowed five hits, two walks and six earned runs while recording just one out. He would make five more appearances with the Pirates during 1928, but his next appearance wasn’t until the 27th game of the season. All six of his appearances were in one-sided losses. He went 16 days before his final two appearances (May 30th and June 15th), then gave up four runs over 6.2 innings in his last game. Six days later he was released on option to Dallas of the Class-A Texas League, but an illness limited his work over the rest of the season to a 5.18 ERA in 66 innings. He finished with a 7.15 ERA in 22.2 innings with the Pirates. On December 8, 1928, the Pirates traded Bartholomew and cash to Kansas City of the Double-A American Association for pitcher Heinie Meine.

Bartholomew spent the 1929-30 seasons with Omaha of the Class-A Western League after they acquired him on April 12, 1929 in a trade for pitcher Pea Ridge Day, who has slightly more big league experience. In 1929, Bartholomew went 12-12 in 205 innings over 40 appearances. His ERA isn’t available, but he allowed 6.98 runs per nine innings. It was a high offense league, but that was a high number compared to the other starters on his team. He is credited with pitching just six games in 1930 for Omaha, and he didn’t pitch in pro ball in 1931, yet his big league career wasn’t over at that point. He briefly reappeared in the majors in August of 1932 with the Chicago White Sox, seemingly joining them out of nowhere, in what would be the last three games of his pro baseball career. He allowed three runs over 5.1 innings during his final big league time. He was playing semi-pro ball in 1931, and also long after his days with the White Sox. He also spent brief time with Springfield of the Class-B Three-I League (1930) and Dayton of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League (1934), though neither of those records show up in his online stats. Three years before he debuted in pro ball, there was word that the St Louis Cardinals were interested in signing him after they saw him playing sandlot ball.

Bill Hinchman, outfielder for the 1915-18 and 1920 Pirates. He played five seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds (1905-06) and the Cleveland Naps (1907-09) before spending five full seasons playing in the minors for Columbus of the Class-A American Association, which was followed by a return trip to the majors with the Pirates. Hinchman debuted in pro ball in 1903 at 20 years old, playing his first two seasons for the Ilion Typewriters of the Class-B New York State League. Stats are limited from those years, but we know that he hit .267 in 46 games in 1903, followed by a .281 average in 135 games in 1904. He played for Williamsport of the Tri-State League in 1905 (no stats available), then debuted in the majors with the Reds in late September. At the time of his acquisition, Reds president J.H. Farrell only said that he didn’t know much about Hinchman in a summary of the players recently acquired by the team. He batted .255 with ten runs and ten RBIs in 17 games during his first big league trial. That helped earn him an Opening Day spot in 1906, but he was sent back to the minors by mid-May after hitting just .204 in 18 games. In his first stint with Columbus to finish out the 1906 season, he hit .314 in 115 games, with 19 doubles, eight triples and four homers.

Hinchman was back in the majors with Cleveland to start the 1907 season. He hit just .228 in 152 games that year, seeing most of his time in left field. He finished with 62 runs scored, 19 doubles, nine triples, 50 RBIs and 47 walks. He batted .231 with 55 runs, 23 doubles, eight triples, six homers and 59 RBIs  in 137 games in 1908, while splitting his playing time between right field (52 starts), shortstop (51 starts) and left field (25 starts). The Naps moved on from him after the 1909 season, despite improvements across the board on offense, including a .703 OPS that was well above average during that deadball era season. He hit .258 in 139 games, with 20 doubles, 13 triples, 53 RBIs, 22 steals and 41 walks. Hinchman returned to Columbus in 1910 and stayed there until the Pirates came calling five years later. In 1910, he hit .258 in 167 games, with 30 doubles, 13 triples and two homers. That was followed by a .295 average in 166 games in 1911, with 43 doubles, nine triples and eight homers. In 1912, the American Association was reclassified as Double-A, which was the highest level at the time. Hinchman hit .309 in 161 games, with 120 runs, 29 doubles, 20 triples, six homers and 22 steals. In 1913, he batted .297 in 167 games, with 120 runs, 43 doubles, 12 triples and nine homers. During the 1914 season, he hit .366 with 139 runs, 57 doubles, 21 triples, nine homers, 21 steals and 87 walks, which earned him a spot with the 1915 Pirates. He also served as the manager for Columbus during his final two seasons.

Hinchman capitalized on his second chance in the majors, but it almost didn’t happen. His purchased occurred on September 16, 1914, but he immediately balked at the deal, saying that he wished to remain as a manager/player in the minors. There was even a report that the deal fell through, which turned out to be false. The Pirates were able to purchase both Hinchman and shortstop Wally Gerber from Columbus, with Gerber reporting to the team right away, while Hinchman reported in 1915. During that first season back in the majors, he hit .307 in 156 games, with 72 runs, 33 doubles, 14 triples, five homers, 77 RBIs and 48 walks. His .807 OPS was third best in the league. In 1916, he led the National League in triples with 16, to go along with a .315 average, which was third best in the league. He also had 64 runs, 18 doubles, 76 RBIs and 54 walks in 152 games played. His .805 OPS that year placed him sixth in the league. He finished fourth in total bases during both seasons (1915-16). He struggled badly in 1917, hitting just .189 in 69 games, while seeing his playing time eventually diminish into a pinch-hitting role by the end of the 1918 season. He rebounded a bit in the smaller role in 1918, going from a lowly .562 OPS in 1917, to a respectable (for the deadball era) .651 mark in 1918, which was a shortened season due to the war.

Hinchman didn’t play during the 1919 season, deciding to retire from the game, though he occasionally played for a team from Williamsport. The Pirates kept him on their reserved list during that time and he returned in 1920 as a pinch-hitter, getting 18 at-bats throughout the season in his final year of pro ball. He last played in July, but the Pirates already had him doing some scouting work before that game. In ten seasons in the majors, he hit .261 in 908 games, with 364 runs, 128 doubles, 69 triples, 20 homers and 369 RBIs. With the Pirates, he hit .284 in 445 games, with a .751 OPS. He became a coach and scout for the Pirates, performing his greatest service to the team in that role by signing Hall of Famers Arky Vaughan and Lloyd Waner as well as Pirates pitching great, Rip Sewell. Bill had a brother named Harry, who also played for Cleveland in 1907, which was his only season in the majors.