Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades made on this date, plus two former players were born on June 3rd.
On this date in 2009, the Pirates traded All-Star outfielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. McLouth was coming off an All-Star season in 2008, one in which he hit .276 with 113 runs scored, 26 homers, 23 stolen bases, a league leading 46 doubles and 94 RBIs. He also won the Gold Glove in center field. When the Pirates wanted to call up Andrew McCutchen, McLouth balked at the position move from center field, which in part caused the trade. He was hitting .256 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 45 games when the deal was made. All three players received were highly rated prospects at some time, though only Morton had Major League experience at the time. Locke was a second round pick in 2006, who was struggling in High-A ball. Hernandez was 21 years old, hitting .316 in Double-A. Prior to the season, he was the 62nd ranked prospect in baseball by Baseball America. Morton was 25 years old, at Triple-A, coming off a season in which he went 4-8, 6.15 in 74.2 innings for the Braves.
After the deal, Morton went 41-62, 4.39 in 142 starts and 801 innings with the Pirates, where he played during the 2009-15 seasons before he was traded away with one year left on his contract. That deal worked out great for the Pirates despite a poor return in minor league pitcher David Whitehead. Morton pitched just 17.1 innings in 2016 due to injury. Hernandez played 25 games with the Pirates in 2012, then was traded to the Miami Marlins for first baseman Gaby Sanchez. He returned to the Pirates as a free agent in 2015 and played another eight big league games. He was then a regular for the 2017-18 San Francisco Giants, which led to him playing a total of 394 games over six seasons. Locke reached the Pirates in September of 2011 and stayed around through the 2016 season. He went 35-38, 4.41 in 644 innings with the Pirates, making 110 starts and 13 relief appearances. He was an All-Star in 2013. The Pirates let him go after the 2016 season and he pitched just seven more big league games. McLouth hit .229 with 21 homers in 250 games for Atlanta over the 2009-11 season. He had decent results in 2009 after the trade, but his other two seasons were worth -2.4 WAR. He eventually ended up back in Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2012, but he was released after batting just .140 in 34 games. As for the on field value the teams got with the initial trade, McLouth gave the Braves -0.6 WAR, while the Pirates received 0.5 WAR.
On this date in 1906, the Pirates traded pitcher Ed Karger to the St Louis Cardinals for pitcher Chappie McFarland. This move is the exact opposite of the one above, Pittsburgh dealt a young prospect in exchange for a veteran pitcher. Karger, at age 23, had made his Major League debut exactly seven weeks earlier. He was pitching well for the Pirates, but they wanted a veteran to help for their playoff run. As it turned out, they had no chance that season with the Cubs setting a major league record with a 116-36 record. Karger had a 2-3, 1.93 record at the time of the deal, making two starts and four relief appearances. McFarland had pitched decent for some very poor St Louis Cardinals teams. At age 31, he was coming off three straight seasons of throwing at least 229 innings. With St Louis, he had a 33-57 record with a 3.33 ERA.
After the trade McFarland didn’t last long in Pittsburgh. He went 1-3, 2.55 in six games, five as a starter. The Pirates put him on waivers, where he was picked up by Brooklyn on August 1st. He made just one start for them before returning to the minors for the last three years of his pro career. Karger pitched in the majors until 1911, and while his career record was just 48-67, he retired with a 2.79 ERA. For St Louis he had a 2.72 ERA in 191.2 innings in 1906, then pitched 314 innings in 1907, posting a 2.04 ERA to go along with 29 complete games. His record was just 15-19, but the rest of the Cardinals pitching staff went 37-82. We posted more on Karger here in a One Who Got Away feature.
Brandon Waddell, pitcher for the 2020 Pirates. He was a fifth round pick by the Pirates in 2015 out of the University of Virginia. Waddell was known as a big game pitcher in college and he continued that trend over the years in minor league playoff games, as the Pirates affiliates seemed to win wherever he played. After signing late due to the 2015 College World Series, Waddell pitched for short-season Morgantown of the New York-Penn League, where he had a 5.75 ERA in 20.1 innings over six starts. He made incredible movement through the system the next season. He skipped Low-A and dominated in five High-A starts, posting an 0.93 ERA in 29 innings, with an 0.52 WHIP for Bradenton of the Florida State League. The Pirates then jumped him to Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where his career stalled a bit, partially due to injury. Waddell had a 4.12 ERA in 118 innings after the early season promotion. He struck out 120 batters that season in 147 innings between the two stops. His 2017 season saw him post a 3.12 ERA in 78 innings, but he missed time twice with a forearm strain. He had a 3.55 ERA in 15 starts with Altoona, while also making rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League and with Morgantown. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he had a 2.57 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.
In 2018, Waddell split the year between Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He had a 2.68 ERA in 53.2 innings at Altoona, and a 4.19 ERA in 81.2 innings at Indianapolis. He had 103 strikeouts in 135.1 innings that year. The 2019 season was a bit of a disaster. He was pitching in relief in Triple-A and struggling with the new role, posting an 8.70 ERA over 61 innings. In the middle of the season, he was demoted to Altoona, where he was moved to the starting role. He was strong at the level, putting up a 2.23 ERA in seven starts, but he did poorly once again after returning to Triple-A to finish the season. Waddell didn’t get an invite to the Alternate Training Site when the 2020 season resumed play after the COVID shutdown, but he ended up joining the Altoona practice squad late and he was barely there for any time before the Pirates called him up as a bullpen arm. He pitched just twice, allowing one run in 3.1 innings. However, he was with the Pirates for 23 days during that stretch. He was put on waivers after the season and he was claimed by the Minnesota Twins. Waddell made four appearances for Minnesota in 2021, giving up six runs in four innings, before he was designated for assignment on May 7th. He was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles the next day and assigned to Triple-A. He ended up pitching one scoreless inning for the Orioles, then 29 days after being acquired, he was claimed on waivers by the St Louis Cardinals. Most of his final four months were spent with Triple-A Memphis, but he pitched 4.1 innings over four appearances with the Cardinals. His 2022 season through late May has been spent as a reliever in Triple-A. Despite playing for four different teams in the majors, he has pitched a total of 12.2 innings.
Nelson Liriano, second baseman for the 1995-96 Pirates. He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an international amateur in November of 1982 and he made his Major League debut five years later in Toronto. Liriano was signed at 18 years old out of the Dominican Republic. He went to Low-A Florence of the South Atlantic League for his first season in 1983, where he hit .259 with 87 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 70 walks, 27 steals and a .724 OPS in 129 games. He moved up to High-A the next year and hit .246 with 68 runs, 31 extra-base hits, ten steals, 46 walks and a .646 OPS in 132 games for Kinston of the Carolina League. Liriano repeated the level in 1985 and hit .288 with 25 steals and similar power/walk numbers in 132 games, though he had 75 fewer plate appearances, which led to a .731 OPS. He moved up to Double-A Knoxville of the Southern League in 1986 and hit .285 with 88 runs, 25 doubles, 15 triples, seven homers, 59 RBIs and 35 stolen bases in 135 games. Liriano’s .765 OPS that season was his highest while coming up through the minors. He played 130 games at Triple-A for Syracuse of the International League in 1987, hitting .250 with 72 runs, 19 doubles, ten triples, ten homers, 55 RBIs and 36 steals. That led to a promotion to the majors in late August, where he played full time at second base over the final six weeks. Liriano batted lead-off from the start, which led to 176 plate appearances in 37 games for the 1987 Blue Jays. He hit .241, with a .652 OPS.
Liriano was in the majors for most of 1988, hitting .264 with 36 runs, 11 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 12 steals and a .630 OPS in 99 games. He had his best year in the majors in 1989, hitting .263 with 51 runs, 26 doubles, five homers, 53 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 132 games. He hit .429 that postseason with three stolen bases in Toronto’s ALCS loss to the Oakland A’s. Liriano started off slow the next season, then was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in July for for veteran pitcher John Candelaria. He ended up batting .234 with 46 runs, 12 doubles, nine triples, one homer and a .635 OPS in 103 games in 1990. After being released by Minnesota at the end of Spring Training in 1991, he spent most of the season in the minors, getting in just ten games with the Kansas City Royals in May, although he did manage to hit .409 in 22 at-bats. He signed with the Cleveland Indians for 1992 and spent the entire year in the minors, where he hit .305 with 73 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 20 steals and an .830 OPS in 106 games for Colorado Springs of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Liriano signed with the expansion Colorado Rockies for the 1993 season. He hit .305/377/.424 in limited time (175 plate appearances in 48 games) while playing in the thin Colorado air. He hit .330 in 88 at-bats at home that year. He mostly played second base during his big league career, but he saw more time at shortstop during the 1993 season. After batting .255 with 39 runs, 25 extra-base hits and 42 walks in 87 games for the Rockies during the strike-shortened 1994 season, the Pirates picked Liriano up off waivers in October of 1994. In 1995, he platooned at second base with Carlos Garcia. Liriano also got plenty of pinch hitting at-bats, finishing the season with a .286 average, 29 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs and a .745 OPS in 107 games (55 starts). The following year, he saw fewer starts and more time in the pinch-hitting role, getting 234 plate appearances over 112 games (34 starts). He hit .267 with 23 runs, 14 doubles, 30 RBIs and a .699 OPS. He was put on waivers after the season ended, where he was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Liriano had a limited bench role with Los Angeles in 1997, starting just seven of his 76 games that year. He hit .227 in 88 at-bats, with six doubles, a homer, 11 RBIs and a .603 OPS. He finished his big league career back in Colorado in 1998, though it did not go well. In 12 games, he went 0-for-17 with no walks. He hit into a double play, so he actually made more outs than he had plate appearances. His career ended with time in Mexico and one game in Japan in 1999. After his playing days, he managed the Royals rookie league affiliate in Burlington for three seasons (2009-11). Liriano hit .277 with eight homers and 68 RBIs in 219 games for the Pirates. In his 11-year big league career, he batted .260 in 823 games, with 296 runs, 105 doubles, 25 homers, 59 steals and 240 RBIs. He was rated as a below average defensive player in seven of his 11 seasons according to dWAR, which gave him a -1.1 career mark, though overall he was a 3.0 WAR player.