This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 6th, The Easler Trade, Tim Foli, and Pirates Sign Two Pitchers

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus three transactions of note.

The Players

Tim Foli, shortstop for the 1979-81 and 1985 Pirates. He was drafted first overall in the 1968 amateur draft by the New York Mets and he made his Major League debut just two years later at the end of the 1970 season. At 17 years old in 1968, he spent most of his first season in the short-season Appalachian League with Marion, but the Mets also sent him to Double-A Memphis of the Texas League for five games that year. Foli hit .278 with 42 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and a .714 OPS in 68 games as a rookie in pro ball. The next season he spent the entire year with Visalia of the Class-A California League, where he batted .303 with 60 runs, ten doubles, 15 homers, 62 RBIs and a .780 OPS in 95 games. He hit .261 in 1970, with 63 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .688 OPS in 103 games for Triple-A Tidewater of the International League. He also went 4-for-11 in five games for the Mets that season. Foli batted .226 with 32 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and a .553 OPS in 97 games for the 1971 Mets. He was a shortstop every season after 1971, but that year he played second base, third base and shortstop. He played just one full season in New York before being traded to the Montreal Expos in a four-player deal that included three other big names (Rusty Staub, Mike Jorgenson and Ken Singleton).  Foli played in Montreal until 1977.

Foli took over the starting shortstop job for Montreal in 1972. He hit .241 in 149 games that season, with 45 runs scored, 16 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs and a .561 OPS. He played slightly less often in 1973, but he matched his .561 OPS from the previous season. He batted .240 with 37 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 36 RBIs in 126 games that year. In 121 games in 1974, Foli batted .254 with 41 runs scored, 13 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a slightly improved .591 OPS. He played a career high 152 games in 1975, when he hit .238 with 64 runs scored, 25 doubles, 29 RBIs and career highs of 13 steals and 36 walks. He finished with a .578 OPS. He had one of his best hitting seasons in 1976 when he batted .264 in 149 games, and set career highs with 36 doubles and six homers. He had 41 runs, 54 RBIs and a .647 OPS. The Expos traded him to the San Francisco Giants after a very slow start to the 1977 season. He ended up batting .221 in 117 games between both stops, with 32 runs scored, 25 extra-base hits (23 doubles), 30 RBIs and a .558 OPS. In December of 1977, he was sold back to the Mets, where he played 113 games in 1978, finishing with a .257 average, 37 runs, 21 doubles, 27 RBIs and a .603 OPS.

After being acquired by the Pirates in early April 1979 for Frank Taveras, Foli had his best career season that year, helping the Pirates to their fifth World Series title. He batted .288 in 136 games between both stops (he went 0-for-7 in three games with the Mets), and set career highs with 70 runs, 65 RBIs and a .671 OPS. In the NLCS, he batted .333 and drove in three runs over three games. Then in the World Series, he hit .333  in the seven-game series, with six runs scored and three RBIs. He hit .265 in 127 games during the 1980 season, with 61 runs, 22 doubles, three homers, 38 RBIs and a .623 OPS. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he batted .247 with 32 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a .582 OPS. Foli was traded to the California Angels after the 1981 season in exchange for Brian Harper. Foli played 150 games in 1982, when he hit .252 with 46 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and a .581 OPS. He put up a nearly identical slash line in 1983, matching his .252 average, but he played just 88 games due to a shoulder injury suffered in early August. He clashed with the team after he left early during a rain delay in September, which led to him being traded to the New York Yankees after the season. Foli ended up batting .252 for a third straight season in 1984, though he was limited to 61 games. He had just eight runs and two walks that year, collecting 11 extra-base hits (all doubles) and 16 RBIs.

On December 20, 1984, the Pirates gave up Dale Berra and minor leaguer Jay Buhner as part of a five-player trade to get Foli (and Steve Kemp) back. Foli’s second stint in Pittsburgh was not a successful one. He was released on June 17, 1985 after batting .189/.268/.189 in 19 games, which ended up being his final stint in the majors. He was a .251 career hitter over 16 big league seasons and 1,696 games, with 576 runs scored, 241 doubles, 20 triples, 25 homers, 501 RBIs and 81 stolen bases. He struck out just 399 times during his career, including a total of 14 strikeouts in 597 plate appearances during the 1979 season. With the Pirates, he hit .269 in 365 games, with 164 runs and 125 RBIs. He led National League shortstops in fielding percentage in 1980, and he’s rated as one of the top 100 defensive players ever, finishing with a 16.5 dWAR. While his defense made him a solid player over his career, his offense was consistently average at best. He finished with -0.3 WAR on offense, which included the 1.8 offensive WAR he accumulated with the 1979 Pirates. His second best offensive season was the 0.5 WAR he put up during the 1980 season. That all led him to 5.7 career WAR.

As a side note, Foli is featured here in one of our earliest Card of the Day articles. It highlights a future throwback jersey (if I ever get my way)

Jose Contreras, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He finished his 11-year big league career with the Pirates in 2013, giving up five runs in five innings over seven appearances. The Cuban-born Contreras signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in February of 2003, four months after he defected from Cuba during a tournament. He was a star pitcher in his home country, who was already 31 years old when he first signed. He has ten seasons of stats from Cuba, mostly working as a starting pitcher, beginning with a 1-1, 6.39 record in 25.1 innings during the 1991-92 season. He then played two seasons later with Pinar del Rio, where he remained for nine years. Contreras went 1-3, 4.60 in 47.1 innings during the 1993-94 season. The next year saw him go 6-3, 2.65 in 71.1 innings. He followed that up with a 6-3, 5.23 record in 93 innings in 1995-96. He had a 14-1, 2.01 record in 1996-97, complete ten of his 17 starts, including four shutouts. He had 135 strikeouts in 129.2 innings. Contreras had an 8-3, 1.53 record and 117 strikeouts in 106 innings in 1997-98. The next season saw him go 9-3, 2.22 in 109.1 innings. He had his best season in 1999-2000, when he went 13-2, 1.24 in 167.1 innings. His ERA shot up the next season, but he still finished 14-6, 3.50 in 159.1 innings, with 188 strikeouts. His final season in Cuba saw him go 13-4, 1.76, with 149 strikeouts in 143.1 innings.

His stay in New York was short and it included some minor league time. He had six minor league starts over four levels in 2003, including three starts with Columbus of the Triple-A International League. He had a 1.30 ERA in 27.1 innings, with 41 strikeouts over those four stops. As a rookie for the 2003 Yankees, he went 7-2, 3.30, with 72 strikeouts in 71 innings over nine starts and nine relief appearances. He made 18 starts for the 2004 Yankees before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Esteban Loaiza on July 31st. Contreras went 8-5, 5.64 in 95.2 innings before the deal, and he had a 5-4, 5.30 record in 74.2 innings over 13 starts after the deal. He pitched a career high 204 innings in 2005, while posting a 15-7, 3.61 record in 32 starts, with a career high 154 strikeouts. He never received any Cy Young votes during his career, but he did get mild MVP support in 2005, finishing 27th in the voting. Contreras made his lone All-Star appearance in 2006, when he went 13-9, 4.27, with 134 strikeouts in 196 innings over 30 starts. He had a rough 2007 season, going 10-17, 5.57 in 189 innings. He managed to throw two of his three career shutouts that season. He didn’t bounce back from that until 2010 when he moved to a relief role for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Contreras went 7-6, 4.54 in 20 starts for the 2008 White Sox. He split the 2009 season between Chicago and the Colorado Rockies, where he moved to relief work initially. Contreras went 5-13, 5.42 in 21 starts for the 2009 White Sox, and he had a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings for Colorado. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Phillies, where he had a 3.34 ERA, 57 strikeouts and four saves in 56.2 innings over 67 appearances. Contreras made 17 appearances each year for the 2011-12 Phillies, missing time each year with an injury. He had a 3.86 ERA and five saves in 2011, and a 5.27 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13.2 innings in 2012. He signed with the Pirates on February 23, 2013, and was he released in mid-July. He had an 0.93 ERA in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League that season for the Pirates, but his big league time was limited to five runs in five innings over seven outings. After being released, he spent a month in Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League for the Boston Red Sox, where he allowed nine runs in 9.2 innings. Contreras then signed a 2014 deal with the Texas Rangers, though he was cut late in Spring Training. Between summer and winter ball in Mexico in 2014, he went 11-7, 3.54 in 31 starts, with 176 strikeouts in 173 innings. He went 2-3, 3.35 in nine starts in Mexico in 2015, while also going 4-1, 3.45 in seven starts in China. In his final season of pro ball in 2016, Contreras had a 3-4, 3.79 record in ten starts in Mexico. Counting his time in pro ball in Cuba, he won 192 games over 24 seasons and he pitched just over 2,700 innings. His big league time shows a 78-67, 4.57 record in 1,173 innings over 175 starts and 124 relief appearances.

Adam Hyzdu, outfielder for the 2000-03 Pirates. He debuted in the majors at 28 years old, but still managed to put in seven seasons total, including his first four years with the Pirates. He was a first round pick of the San Francisco Giants out of high school in 1990, ten years and three months before his MLB debut. His pro debut came with Everett of the short-season Northwest League, where he batted .245 with 31 runs, 16 doubles, six homers, 34 RBIs and a .707 OPS in 69 games. Hyzdu played with Clinton of the Class-A Midwest League in 1991, batting .234 in 124 games, with 47 runs, 13 doubles, five homers, 50 RBIs, 64 walks and a .667 OPS. The next season saw him go to San Jose of the High-A California League, where he hit .278 with 60 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs, 55 walks and a .765 OPS in 128 games. He split 1993 between San Jose and Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League, combining to bat .233 with 65 runs, 28 doubles, 19 homers, 63 RBIs and a .734 OPS. The results were much better in High-A that year, with a 452-point difference in his OPS between the two stops. He was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft in December of 1993, but he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, so they worked out a trade to keep him. Hyzdu played over three levels in 1994, going to High-A Winston-Salem of the Carolina League for 55 games, then to Double-A Chattanooga of the Southern League for 38 games, before finishing with Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association for 12 more games. He combined to hit .261 with 50 runs, 23 doubles, 18 homers and 51 RBIs in 105 games. He spent the entire 1995 season with Chattanooga, where he put up a .263 average, 55 runs, 14 doubles, 13 homers, 48 RBIs and an .801 OPS in 102 games. The Reds let him go at the end of the season and he signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox for 1996.

Hyzdu played for Trenton of the Double-A Eastern League in 1996, where he batted .337 with 71 runs, 24 doubles, 25 homers, 80 RBIs, 56 walks and a 1.042 OPS in 109 games. He was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League in 1997, where he hit .276 with 77 runs, 21 doubles, 23 homers, 84 RBIs, 72 walks and an .886 OPS in 119 games. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His 1998 season was split between Triple-A Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League and time in the Mexican League. Only the Tuscon stats are available, and they show a .340/.419/.550 slash line in 34 games. The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal in May of 1999, and sent him to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, where he quickly became a fan favorite. He played 12 games early in the year for Pawtucket of the Triple-A International League, putting up a .229 average and a .622 OPS. He then hit .316 that year for Altoona, with 64 runs, 26 doubles, 24 homers, 78 RBIs and a 1.003 OPS in 91 games. He saw brief time in Triple-A at the end of the year with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .250/.313/.614 in 14 games. Hyzdu re-signed with the Pirates in 2000 and went back to Altoona, where he crushed the ball, batting .290 with 96 runs, 39 doubles, 31 homers, 106 RBIs, 94 walks and a .960 OPS in 142 games. The Pirates called him to the majors that September for the first time. He hit .389/.389/.667 in 18 plate appearances over 12 games. Hyzdu split the 2001 season between Nashville and a bench role with the Pirates. He batted 77 times for the Pirates in 51 games, hitting .208/.260/.431 with five homers and nine RBIs. He had a .291 average and an .830 OPS in 69 games with Nashville.

Hyzdu split the 2002 season between Nashville and the Pirates again, this time getting more at-bats in Pittsburgh. His time with Nashville saw him hit .243 in 65 games, with 33 runs, 17 doubles, ten homers and 50 RBIs. He had a solid year with the Pirates thanks in part to just two days. On July 19, 2002, he went 3-for-5 with a grand slam in a win over the St Louis Cardinals. The next day he did even better, going 4-for-5 with two homers and seven RBIs. He finished that season hitting .232 with 24 runs, six doubles, 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 59 games. That was easily his best season in the majors. In his other six big league trials combined, he hit eight homers and drove in 27 runs. Hyzdu had another Nashville/Pittsburgh split in 2003, and he was back to a bench role in the majors, hitting .206 with 16 runs, five doubles, one homer, eight RBIs and a .653 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He had a .282 average and an .869 OPS in 40 games with Nashville. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he did the Triple-A/MLB split in 2004, getting just 11 plate appearances in 17 games for Boston. He put up big numbers with Pawtucket, hitting .301 in 129 games, with 92 runs, 33 doubles, 29 homers, 79 RBIs, 84 walks and a .980 OPS. The 2005 season saw him get traded to the San Diego Padres mid-season, only to get dealt back to the Red Sox. He hit .194/.286/.250 with no homers in 29 games between both stops. He had an .849 OPS in 93 Triple-A games split between Pawtucket and Portland of the Pacific Coast League (Padres affiliate).

Hyzdu’s big league career ended with two games for the 2006 Texas Rangers. He spent the rest of the year with Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .271 in 128 games, with 64 runs, 25 doubles, 19 homers, 80 RBIs and 74 walks. His pro career ended in 2007 with a season in Japan, where he batted .272/.324/.485 in 47 games. Hyzdu hit .231 with 49 runs, 14 doubles, 18 homers and 55 RBIs in 173 games with the Pirates. He played a total of 18 years of pro ball and hit 299 homers (though that’s missing his 1998 stats in Mexico). He hit .229 in 221 big league games, with 54 runs, 18 doubles, 19 homers and 61 RBIs. He failed to collect a big league triple, and he had one career stolen base.

Frank Luce, outfielder for the 1923 Pirates. His big league career consisted of nine games at the end of the 1923 season and just one of those was as a starter. Despite the brief career, he went 6-for-12 at the plate, drove in three runs and stole two bases. Luce played 11 seasons in the minors and batted over .300 six times. His time with the Pirates was closer to the beginning of his career, which stretched from 1921 until 1931. Luce debuted in pro ball with Greensboro of the Class-C Piedmont League in 1921 at 24 years old, getting a late start due to playing semi-pro ball earlier in his career (no stats available). He played for Flint of the Michigan-Ontario League in 1922, where he batted .334 in 124 games, with 30 doubles, 24 triples and ten homers. During the 1923 season, Luce hit .382 with 13 doubles, 19 triples, 15 homers and 17 stolen bases for Flint. He joined the Pirates on September 15th that year and he debuted just two days later. He took over for Carson Bigbee, who was trying to play through a leg injury suffered a day earlier. In the fourth inning, Luce hit for Bigbee and reached on a scratch single. Unfortunately, he was picked off of first base, so his first big league hit didn’t end well.

While his big league career on paper didn’t amount to much, Luce still made quite an impression with the team during his brief stay. He homered twice in an exhibition game in Lima, Ohio, including one that was called the longest homer seen at that park. He had two hits and two stolen bases in his second exhibition game, then hit two triples against Columbus of the American Association. A quote after the third game, which looks ridiculous now, started that Luce would give Kiki Cuyler a run for a starting outfield spot in 1924. Luce was in Spring Training with the Pirates in 1924 and he got some press for hitting the first Pittsburgh home run of the spring. He was getting a lot of praise for hitting the ball harder than anyone else in camp, while also providing some solid defense in the outfield. He was still around on Opening Day, but he didn’t play in any games before the Pirates released him outright back to Flint on April 25th, ten days into the 1924 season. He batted .299 with 95 runs, 18 doubles, seven triples, 23 homers, 93 RBIs, 16 steals and an .871 OPS in 129 games for Flint in 1924. He then went to Milwaukee of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time), where he spent the next five seasons. Luce batted at least .315 in each of his first four seasons in Milwaukee, before dropping down to a .295 average in 1929. He hit that .315 mark in 1925, when he had 20 doubles, 14 triples and 14 homers in 123 games. During the 1926 season, he batted .360 with 19 extra-base hits in 70 games. Luce had a .324 average over 135 games in 1927, finishing with 21 doubles, 17 triples and 11 homers. The 1928 season saw him hit .337 in 127 games, with 80 runs, 21 doubles, six triples, 17 homers, 15 steals and a .913 OPS.

Luce batted .295 in 135 games in 1929, while collecting 19 doubles, 11 triples and 12 homers. He played for Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association during the 1930 season, where he hit .280 in 94 games, with 13 doubles, five triples and 11 homers. His final season was split between New Orleans of the Southern Association and Peoria of the Class-B Three-I League. He hit just .248 with six doubles, seven triples and three homers in 95 games that season, with much better results at the higher level. He’s credited with hitting .318 over 1,149 games in his minor league career. That’s missing the stats from his first season, which he likely saw limited play for Greensboro because he was getting press into the middle of the summer for being the top hitter in a semi-pro league in Ohio.

Walter Mueller, outfielder for the 1922-24 and 1926 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1915 at 20 years old, but he has no other pro records until the 1921 season. That first year was spent with Freeport of the Class-D Bi-State League, where he hit .298 with 17 extra-base hits in 45 games. He was supposed to play for a team from Hannibal, Mo. in 1916, but he was released early in the season. He made the majors as an outfielder, though he was a shortstop early in his career. He was playing semi-pro ball in the Missouri-Illinois Trolley League in 1920, where he won the batting title with a .386 average. Mueller hit .324 with 60 extra-base hits in 165 games with Joplin of the Class-A Western League during the 1921 season. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 16th, though he stayed with Joplin until the end of their season. Mueller didn’t make his big league debut until the 20th game of the 1922 season, then hit a three-run homer off of Hall of Famer Grover Alexander on the first pitch he saw in the majors. Mueller was sent to the minors on June 28th by manager George Gibson, despite hitting .270 with 21 runs, five doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 31 games. When Bill McKechnie replaced Gibson as the Pirates manager just a few days later, one of the first things he did was bring Mueller back. Mueller was nursing an upper back/neck injury at the time, and ended up playing just one more game that season on July 5th as a pinch-hitter.

Mueller was buried deep on the bench during the 1923 season. Through the first 92 games of the season, he played eight times, all off of the bench, batting a total of nine times. He didn’t make his first start until August 12th, then ended up making 23 starts over the rest of the season. Mueller batted .306/.336/.414 in 40 games that season, finishing with 11 runs, four doubles, four triples and 20 RBIs. His playing time in 1924 was spread out more over the whole season, though the bulk of his at-bats came in June when he made six of his eight starts. He put up a .260/.327/.320 slash line in 55 plate appearances over 30 games. Mueller retired during the 1925 season to help run a family business in St Louis with his brothers. He ended up returning to the Pirates late in the 1926 season and saw a lot of September action, hitting .242/.242/.274 in 19 games. He retired again in 1927 for the family business, playing sandlot ball on the weeks to get his fill of baseball. His only other playing time after that point was 19 games for Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association in 1928, where he hit .220 with seven runs and a double. The Pirates traded him to Indianapolis on November 23, 1926 as part of the deal to acquire pitcher Carmen Hill.

In four seasons in the majors, all spent with the Pirates, Mueller hit .275 with 46 runs, ten doubles, seven triples, two homers and 49 RBIs in 121 games. He never played more than 40 games in a season, and split his time evenly between left and right field, making 41 appearances at each spot. He also played center field five times. His son Don Mueller spent 12 seasons as an outfielder in the majors, putting in most of his time with the New York Giants. I’ve seen Walter listed in a few places as being the brother of outfielder Heinie Mueller, who spent 11 seasons in the majors, but many sources from his playing era don’t back up that information.

Tun Berger, utility player for the 1890-91 Alleghenys/Pirates. In 104 games for the worst team in franchise history, he hit .266 with 64 runs, 18 doubles, four triples, 40 RBIs and a .670 OPS. As a bench player in 1891, he hit .239/.315/.291, with 15 runs, four extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. He played five positions that year, seeing most of his time at catcher and second base. He was one of just three players from the 1890 Alleghenys who was still around for the 1891 season (including Sam LaRocque, who lasted one game in 1891). His time in Pittsburgh ended shortly after the 1891 season ended, when the Pirates signed catcher Grant Briggs for a decent sum of money, though he was allowed to sign elsewhere just three months later. Berger played everywhere for Pittsburgh during his two seasons except pitcher and first base. His only other big league time was 26 games with the 1892 Washington Senators, in which he hit .144 with nine runs, three RBIs and a .396 OPS, while mostly playing shortstop. He had three years of pro ball before joining Pittsburgh, and he played minor league ball during the 1892-98 seasons. Berger signed with the Alleghenys in November of 1889, as part of a group of eight new players added to the team at one time. He was a reserve at the beginning of the season in 1890 and didn’t travel with the team until they released two other players in early May, then gave him a chance to play. The local papers gave very little details about him prior to the season, sometimes just listing his name, other times literally calling him a virtual unknown. Berger’s salary in 1890 was $250 per month. His career highlight was an August 8, 1890 game in Cincinnati in which he had four hits and made four above average defensive plays in left field, including one catch that earned him a standing ovation from the home crowd.

Berger’s minor league career began in 1887 at 19 years old, and it included very brief stints for two teams, seeing 12 games total with Steubenville of the Ohio State League, and Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State Association. Between both clubs, he’s credited with a .318 average and eight extra-base hits. He also played semi-pro ball in McKeesport, Pa. around that same time. He played for Mansfield of the Tri-State League in 1888, then moved to Canton of the same league in 1889, before joining the Alleghenys. His 1888 stats aren’t available. He batted .289 in 1889 and led all catchers in the league with a .965 fielding percentage. The first half of his 1892 season was spent with Indianapolis of the Class-A Western League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .229 with ten extra-base hits in 50 games, before finishing out his big league career in Washington. Berger played for Erie of the Eastern League in 1893-94, hitting .260 with 24 extra-base hits in 78 games during his first season, followed by a .314 average with 50 runs and 26 extra-base hits in 67 games in 1894. In 1895, he hit .288 with 56 runs scored in 84 games for Rochester of the Eastern League (reclassified as Class-A in 1895). He also played 24 games that year for St Paul of the Western League, where he batted .261 with 17 runs scored and six extra-base hits.

Very few stats exist from Berger’s final three seasons. He was with Scranton of the Eastern League in 1896. He played for Rochester again in 1897, while also seeing time with Cortland of the New York State League (Class-C). He split the 1898 season between Newark and Norfolk of the Class-B Atlantic League, where he would do some umpiring as well. He played a little in 1899, including a popular exhibition game in Pittsburgh that including Pud Galvin making a pitching appearance. Berger then played semi-pro ball in 1900, which appears to be his last season of baseball. He was on a team from Lawrenceville that had five former big league players. His last game of note appears to be an exhibition game in August of 1903 between a group of bartenders that also included some former players. The only stats from 1896-1898 show a .224 average, 14 runs and four doubles in 33 games for Rochester in 1897. He went by the nickname “Tun” at times, but his first name was John. A preseason introduction to the 1890 Alleghenys listed his as being 5’6 1/2″, 178 pounds.

The Transactions

On this date in 1983, the Pirates traded outfielder Mike Easler to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher John Tudor. The 33-year-old Easler hit .313 with 31 doubles, 27 homers, 91 RBIs and an .892 OPS in his first year with the Red Sox. Both his average and power numbers dropped off in 1985, and he finished with a .262 average and a .737 OPS. He moved on to the Yankees the following season in an even up trade for Don Baylor, as the two rivals exchanged designated hitters. Tudor went 12-11, 3.27 in 212 innings and 32 starts for the 1984 Pirates, then moved on to the St Louis Cardinals in 1985 and helped them to the World Series, where he won two games over the Kansas City Royals. The Easler-Tudor trade was initially a solid deal for the Pirates, but they turned that around by acquiring George Hendrick and his large contract from the Cardinals for Tudor, which ended up being a lopsided deal. In his first season out of Pittsburgh, Tudor finished second in the Cy Young voting, after picking up 21 wins and posting a 1.93 ERA.

On this date in 1988, the Pirates signed 28-year-old pitcher Neal Heaton as a free agent. He had seven seasons of big league experience prior to joining the Pirates. Heaton went 3-10, 4.99 in 11 starts and 21 relief appearances for the Montreal Expos in 1988, so his signing didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. He spent three years in Pittsburgh, making 43 starts and 71 relief appearances. Despite never posting an ERA under 4.00 prior to joining the Pirates, he had a 3.05 mark during the 1989 season in 147.1 innings. He was an All-Star in 1990, when he helped the Pirates to their first playoff appearance in 11 years. He went 12-9, 3.45 in 146 innings that season. In 1991, he switched from full-time starter to full-time relief and saw a decline in his production, posting a 4.33 ERA in 68.2 inning. Heaton went 21-19, 3.46 in 362 innings for the Pirates before being dealt in early 1992 to the Kansas City Royals in an even up trade for Kirk Gibson.

On this date in 1990, the Pirates re-signed 30-year-old lefty starter Zane Smith as a free agent. The Pirates traded for Smith in the middle of the 1990 season and he pitched well, going 6-2, 1.30 in 11 games. They paid a big price to get him, giving up prospect Moises Alou and two other players, so it was lucky for them that he decided to re-sign, otherwise that deal would look much worse. Smith ended up playing another four years in Pittsburgh, then moved to Boston for one season, before finishing his career with the 1996 Pirates. In six seasons with the Pirates, he went 47-41, 3.35 in 768.1 innings. His signing looked great in 1991 when he helped the Pirates to their second straight playoff appearance. He went 16-10, 3.20 in 228 innings. A left shoulder injury limited him to 22 starts in 1992, and shoulder surgery led to just 14 starts in 1993. When he was healthy during the strike-shortened 1994 season, he went 10-8, 3.27 in 157 innings.

On this date in 1939, the Pirates traded pitcher Jim Tobin and cash to the Boston Bees for pitcher Jim Lanning. This deal was considered to favor Boston when it was made, and that was without factoring in the cash, which was reportedly $7,500 according to a few papers from the day. The Pirates had new manager Frankie Frisch, who was an announcer for Boston during the 1939 season. He consummated three deals between the two clubs between the close of the 1939 season and Spring Training of 1940. This one did not work out well. Frisch believed that Lanning’s curveball was one of the better ones in the game and that he would have success in the future. He was a swing-man for his first four seasons (all in Boston), pitching as a starter and a reliever, though he was no workhorse. Lanning averaged 134 innings per seasons, and he was very consistent, with a low ERA of 3.42, and a high of 3.93 in 1937.

Tobin was a starter, who pitched 241 innings in 1938. He had three seasons of work before the trade, all with the Pirates. He had a 3.71 ERA in 473.2 innings. After the deal, Tobin went 72-83, 3.34 in 1,368 innings over six seasons with Boston. The win-loss record looks bad, but Boston was 141 games under .500 during those seasons, never coming close to a winning record. Tobin was also a strong hitting pitcher, finishing with 20.3 WAR total for Boston. Lanning remained in the swing role and also missed nearly two full seasons due to the war. He went 33-29, 3.44 in 530.2 innings, posting a winning record with an ERA slightly higher than Tobin, while providing negative value as a hitter. Lanning finished with 6.6 WAR in Pittsburgh.