This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 25th, The Tony Womack Trade and Five Obscure Players

One trade of note and five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We start with the transaction.

The Trade

On this date in 1999, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded second baseman Tony Womack to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor leaguer Paul Weichard and a player to be named later. Exactly six months later, the Diamondbacks sent pitcher Jason Boyd to the Pirates to complete the trade. Womack was drafted by the Pirates in 1991, and he spent parts/all of five seasons in the majors. He led the National League in stolen bases each of his two full seasons (60 in 1997 and 58 in 1998), and he was named to the All-Star team in 1997. He won his third straight stolen base title in his first year in Arizona, stealing a career high 72 bases, while scoring 111 runs. He led the league with 14 triples and he stole 45 bases in 2000, while also scoring 95 runs. He helped the Diamondbacks to their only World Series title in 2001.

Weichard was just 19 at the time, having never played above rookie ball. He didn’t make far for the Pirates, playing in the system until 2002. He topped out at Double-A, playing one game there during his last season in the organization. Boyd was in the majors, but he pitched just four games for the Pirates before he was lost on waivers. This trade didn’t work out as bad as most people think. Womack put up solid numbers at the plate for a stretch, but he had just 2.4 WAR in his entire career, and 2.1 after he left the Pirates. That was partially due to below average defense. In the 2004 season alone, after he already left the Diamondbacks and became a free agent, he had 3.3 WAR for the St Louis Cardinals. That means that he had -0.9 WAR for his other 12 seasons combined.

The Players

Aaron Fletcher, pitcher for the 2022 Pirates. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Washington Nationals in 2018 out of the University of Houston. He pitched one game in the Gulf Coast League after signing, then spent the rest of 2018 with Auburn of the short-season New York-Penn League. He combined to go 2-1, 2.90 in 31 innings over seven starts and six relief appearances. He finished with 34 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. Fletcher had a busy 2019 season, playing for Hagerstown of the Low-A South Atlantic League, Potomac of the High-A Carolina League, and Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League. That all happened before a July 31st five-player trade sent him to the Seattle Mariners. He finished up the regular season with nine games for Arkansas of the Double-A Texas League. Between all four stops, he went 5-4, 2.09 in 73.1 innings over 41 appearances, with an 0.93 WHIP and 84 strikeouts. The Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he had 15 strikeouts over 9.1 scoreless innings. Fletcher played six games for the Mariners during the shortened 2020 season. He allowed six runs over 4.1 innings, finishing up with seven walks and seven strikeouts.

Fletcher spent a large majority of the 2021 season with Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He went 4-0, 3.47 in 49.1 innings, with 45 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP. He pitched four games for the Mariners in May, allowing five runs in 3.2 innings. The Pirates picked him up off of waivers during March of 2022. He pitched nine games for the Pirates, finishing with a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings. He was with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League for a little longer that year, posting a 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings. The Pirates lost him on waivers to the San Francisco Giants in mid-July. He spent the rest of the year with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 15.15 ERA in 13.2 innings, with 14 walks and a 2.63 WHIP. Over his three seasons in the majors, he has an 0-1, 9.15 record, a 1.83 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 19.2 innings over 19 appearances.

Phil Irwin, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. His big league career consisted of two starts, one for the 2013 Pirates and one for the 2014 Texas Rangers. His pro career lasted from 2009 until 2015, and it included a stop in Korea during his final season. Irwin was a 21st round draft pick of the Pirates out of the University of Mississippi in 2009. He had a 2.12 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 29.2 innings over seven starts and three relief appearances with State College of the short-season New York-Penn League after being drafted. Irwin spent the 2010 season as a starter for Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. He had a 6-3, 3.35 record in 113 innings, with 111 strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP. He made 20 starts and three relief appearances that season. He split the 2011 season between High-A Bradenton of the Florida State League and Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, combining for a 3.14 ERA in 140.2 innings. His work in High-A was much better than his time in Double-A, going 5-0, 2.03 in 53.1 innings over ten starts for Bradenton, before finishing the year 8-4, 3.81 in 87.1 innings with Altoona. He had 109 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP that season. The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season, but he lasted just one relief appearance before being shut down with a forearm injury. He would re-injure his forearm early in 2012, though his missed time was minimal.

Irwin spent most of 2012 back in Altoona, after allowing one run over five innings in a rehab start with Bradenton. He went 4-7, 2.93 in 104.1 innings with Altoona, then made it to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League for four starts and a 2.57 ERA. Between all three stops that season, he went 8-7, 2.83 in 130.1 innings, with 117 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP. He was up with the Pirates for one day in 2013, just long enough to make his MLB debut. Irwin gave up five runs (four earned) over 4.2 innings in his debut on April 14, 2013. He was injured shortly after returning to the minors, then in July he had minor surgery on his right elbow, which cost him the rest of the season. At the time, he had a pitched just three games all season, including two starts with Indianapolis in which he allowed one run over ten innings. The Pirates sent him to the AFL once again, where he put up an 8.62 ERA over five starts. Irwin was up with the Pirates for one day (May 6th) in 2014 without appearing in a game, before being designated for assignment 16 days later. He was pitching poorly for Indianapolis at the time, posting an 8.72 ERA in 21.2 innings. He was picked up by the Rangers eight days later, and then pitched his final big league game on July 8th. His start for Texas saw him allow three runs over four innings. Irwin had a 3.51 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.1 innings for Triple-A Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League that year. He started 2015 in Korea, then ended the season back with the Rangers, seeing time in both Double-A (Frisco of the Texas League) and Round Rock again. He became a free agent after the season and never played again. Irwin went 1-7, 8.68 in 56 innings in Korea. He then had a 2-4, 6.30 record in 30 innings for the two affiliates of the Rangers.

Xavier Paul, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. He began his pro career as a fourth round draft pick of the Dodgers in the 2003 amateur draft. He was selected at 18 years old out of Slidell HS in Louisiana, the only draft pick ever from that school. It took him six full seasons in the minors, plus three years of fall/winter ball, before he made his big league debut in May of 2009. He debuted in pro ball in 2003 with Ogden of the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .307 in 69 games, with 60 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and an .872 OPS. Paul played for Columbus of the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2004, where he batted .265 in 126 games, with 69 runs, 26 doubles, nine homers, 72 RBIs and a .748 OPS. He played with Vero Beach of the High-A Florida State League during the entire 2005-06 seasons. He hit .247 over 85 games during the 2005 season, with 42 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs and a .721 OPS. He followed that up in 2006 with a .285 average over 120 games, with 62 runs, 23 doubles, 13 homers, 49 RBIs and a .773 OPS. He stole 22 bases that year, but he was also caught 15 times. Paul actually went 1-for-6 in steals during the 2005 season. He played in the Hawaii Winter Baseball league during the 2006-07 off-season, where he hit .213 in 32 games, finishing with a .619 OPS against other lower level prospects. Paul was with Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League in 2007, where he batted .292 in 118 games, with 64 runs, 21 doubles, 11 homers, 50 RBIs, 17 steals and a .795 OPS. He went to the Arizona Fall League that off-season, where he hit .248 in 27 games, with a .593 OPS.

Paul played for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League in 2008. He hit .316 in 115 games, with 82 runs, 28 doubles, nine homers, 68 RBIs, 17 steals and an .841 OPS. Those numbers were just slightly above average for a team that plays in a hitter-friendly park in a hitter-friendly league. He spent the winter playing in Mexico, where he hit .293 in 41 games, while putting up a strong .879 OPS. The 2009 season began with the Dodgers new Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, but he was up in the majors for a short time early in the year. Paul played parts of three seasons with Los Angeles (2009-11), though it amounted to 62 total games. He lasted just 11 games that first season, all of them in May. He suffered a staph infection, then injured his ankle on a rehab assignment, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.  He had an .878 OPS in 31 games for Albuquerque that year, and he hit .214/.313/.500 with a doubles and a homer in 16 plate appearances for the Dodgers. He had a stint with the 2010 Dodgers from late April until the end of May, then returned for a month-long stint in July. Both times he got playing time while Manny Ramirez was out injured, but Paul was injured late in the year and didn’t return. He batted .231/.277/.314 in 44 games in the majors that year, with 16 runs, eight doubles, no homers and 11 RBIs. He had a .325 average and a .963 OPS in 57 games with Albuquerque that year.

Paul played seven early season games for the 2011 Dodgers, going 3-for-11 with three singles, before being designated for assignment. He was picked up by the Pirates off waivers from the Dodgers on April 26, 2011. He hit .254 in 121 games that season for Pittsburgh, finishing with 30 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .642 OPS. He was released by the Pirates in November of 2011, then signed with the Washington Nationals three weeks later. The Nationals let him go in July of 2012 without a big league appearance. He signed four days later with the Cincinnati Reds, where he remained through the end of the 2013 season. Paul hit .314/.379/.465 in 55 games for the 2012 Reds, serving mostly in a bench role, with a total of 96 plate appearances. Despite being let go by Washington, he was doing outstanding in Triple-A with Syracuse of the International League. Including six games with Louisville of the International League (Reds affiliate), Paul hit .332/.389/.529 in 66 games during his minor league time in 2012. He played 97 big league games in 2013, finishing with a .244 average, 12 doubles, seven homers, 32 RBIs and a .741 OPS.

Paul signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2014, where he spent all of his time with Norfolk of the International League, before being released in August. He hit .254 in 81 games, with 45 runs, 12 doubles, 12 homers, 56 RBIs and a .747 OPS. He immediately signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he played one minor league game, before playing his final 14 big league games that August. He hit .100/.143/.100 in 21 plate appearances during that final stint in the majors. He signed with the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, but he was released during Spring Training, and didn’t play that season. He spent 2016 in Mexico, where he had a .673 OPS in 25 games. He also played winter ball for a brief time that off-season in Mexico. He then signed with the Texas Rangers in 2017, though he played just nine minor league games that year. He actually tried out pitching in the rookie-level Arizona League, where he threw 8.2 scoreless innings over seven appearances. It was the only time he pitched in his career. He played his final pro games in 2018, lasting six games in independent ball with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League. Paul played a total of 349 games over six seasons in the big leagues, batting .250 during that time, with 83 runs, 32 doubles, 12 homers, 71 RBIs and a .679 OPS. Despite 16 steals in a partial season with the Pirates, he finished with 23 stolen bases in the majors.

Jim Dunn, pitcher for the 1952 Pirates. He pitched just three games in the majors, all in relief for the 1952 Pirates. After going 10-3 in two years of college, while also playing some semi-pro ball, Dunn was signed by Pittsburgh out of the University of Alabama on August 11, 1952 for (reportedly) $25,000. He was brought right to the majors, where he threw a total of 5.1 innings in his three games, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. He debuted on August 26th, then pitched his final big league game 17 days later. He also pitched an exhibition game against the Washington Senators on September 8th, where he took the loss after walking four straight batters to force in two runs, in a game that ended in a 3-0 score. He walked eight batters in 3.2 innings that day. He returned to Alabama to finish his education after the 1952 season ended. Dunn pitched in the minors from 1953 until 1959, playing in the Pirates system through the end of the 1955 season when he was lost to the Cleveland Indians in the November minor league draft.

During Spring Training of 1953, Dunn started for the Pirates as they played an exhibition game against a Cuban All-Star team in Havana. He took the loss, allowing five first-inning runs in a game that ended 13-10. He was a late cut from the roster that year, then was never able to come close to making the majors again. The Pirates believed that they would lose him to the Army, as he went to take his physical just a few days before he was assigned to the minors on April 11, 1953. However, he ended up pitching a full season for Burlington-Graham of the Class-B Carolina League, where he had a 5-9, 4.59 record and a 1.62 WHIP in 147 innings, splitting his time between starting and relief. Dunn dropped down a level in 1954 to Billings of the Class-C Pioneer League, where he won 14 games, while posting a 3.64 ERA in 204 innings. He completed 19 of 25 starts, while throwing five shutouts. He also compiled 176 strikeouts. He would win 15 games the next season with Billings, while posting a 2.32 ERA, 182 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 202 innings. Dunn also played briefly for Waco of the Class-B Big State League, where he had an 0-2 record in nine appearances.

With Burlington of the Class-B Three-I League in 1956, Dunn went 8-8, 3.28 in 137 innings, with 92 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP. He completed ten of his 15 starts, while also pitching six times in relief. The 1957 season saw him move up a level, but even then he was still three levels away from the majors. He with Des Moines of the Class-A Western League for just a short time, going 1-1 in his two games. Most of the year was spent back in Burlington, where he had a 12-4, 2.43 record in 152 innings, with 101 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP. Dunn played for Pueblo of the Western League for most of the 1958 season, while also seeing brief time in Double-A with Fort Worth of the Texas League. He went 4-5, 4.66 in 116 innings over 44 appearances with Pueblo.His Fort Worth stats show a 1-2 record in five games. He pitched ten games for Lancaster of the Class-A Eastern League during his final season of pro ball in 1959. His only available stats show a 1-1 record. He went by the nickname “Red” during his time with the Pirates, and went by Bill during his time in college (his name was James William Dunn). He was previously credited with 1951 minor league stats, which belong to someone named William Dunn, but the two pitchers could be found pitching at the same time in different states during that summer, with Jim Dunn playing both college and semi-pro ball.

Phil Slattery, pitcher for the 1915 Pirates. Slattery’s entire big league career consisted of three games pitched with the Pirates. He began his pro career in 1914, pitching for two different minor league teams. He began the year with Des Moines of the Class-A Western League, where he went 2-2, 7.24 in 46 innings. He finished the year with the Marshalltown Ansons of the Class-D Central Association. The team was named after Hall of Famer Cap Anson, who was born in the town. He compiled an 8-6 record and 126 strikeouts in 120 innings for Marshalltown. His ERA isn’t available, but he’s credited with allowing 3.45 runs per nine innings. Slattery spent the entire 1915 minor league season playing for Marshalltown, where he won 21 games and pitched 320 innings. He totaled 312 strikeouts according to league records (which credited him with 23 wins), including a game with 19 strikeouts. He also had a streak of five straight games with double-digit strikeouts, which didn’t include the 19-strikeout game. He cut his runs per nine innings in half, dropping down to a 1.72 mark. The Pirates purchased his contract for $1,500 on August 20th. Scout Chick Fraser saw him pitch and was impressed, then Slattery threw a one-hitter in his next start, which helped solidify the signing. He joined the Pirates on September 5th, then was used three times in relief during a ten-day stretch (September 16-25). He pitched a total of eight innings, allowing five hits, one walk and two hit batters, but no runs. On September 22nd, he threw five shutout innings against the Brooklyn Robins, after starter Wilbur Cooper was pulled prior to the fifth inning with a 4-0 score in favor of Brooklyn.

The Pirates let Slattery leave for home on September 27th when they went on their final road trip, which was likely done to save travel costs over the last six days of the season. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in March of 1916 as one of five lefties, which is more than most teams carried back then. He had a rough spring opener on the 16th, allowing all four runs in a loss to the team of younger players in camp. Eleven days later, he tossed four shutout innings against the same players. The Pirates ended up cutting him on April 9th, three days before Opening Day. It was said that he was too inexperienced at the time and needed another year of minor league ball, so the Pirates agreed to send him back to Marshalltown with the understanding that they had first shot at recalling him at the end of the season. Slattery returned to the Ansons that season and had an impressive 22-11, 2.14 record in 303 innings, but he never rejoined the Pirates. He moved up two levels to the Class-B Central League in 1917, where he split the season between South Bend and Grand Rapids. He had a 15-9 record, while throwing 214 innings.

Slattery was acquired from the Pirates in February of 1918 by Vernon of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time). Vernon sent him to Vancouver of the Class-B Pacific Coast International League shortly after the season started. He was serving in the military during WWI by the middle of June, though he was stateside playing for a few different teams on military bases. He played briefly that year for Vernon, and Vancouver records show he was there long enough to go 9-4 in 14 games. After his discharge from the Army in May of 1919, he signed with Kansas City of the Double-A American Association, but a month later (after going 0-3 in six games) he was sold to Sioux City of the Western League, but ended up going to Tulsa of the Class-A Western League instead on June 21st in a trade for Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines, who was still a minor leaguer at the time. Slattery lasted just nine days with his new team before being released. He joined Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League, but he was released after two weeks because he couldn’t get his arm in good shape. He appears to have pitched two games with Tulsa and one with Evansville according to a search of newspaper records. Slattery was part of a 17-inning semi-pro game in October of 1919, in which the two starting pitchers each went the distance and combined for 60 strikeouts. He had 26 of those strikeouts and took the 1-0 loss.

Slattery pitched in the minors until 1921 without getting another shot at the majors, spending his last two seasons in Class-B ball with Beaumont of the Texas League (1920) and Jackson of the Central League (1921). Slattery went 5-2, 2.59 in 80 innings for Beaumont. He had a 9-15, 3.55 record in 202.2 innings with Jackson. He played semi-pro ball in 1922 before retiring. Only two players in the history of the Pirates franchise pitched more innings without allowing a run, Morrie Critchley (9 IP), who played for the team in 1882 while they were in the American Association, and Timothy Jones (10 IP), who pitched for the 1977 Pirates. Honus Wagner pitched 8.1 innings with the Pirates without allowing an earned run, but he gave up five runs total.