Jun 8, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Milwaukee Brewers bats rest in the rack prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
- April 1, 1987 — Pirates receive Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere and Mike Dunne from the Cardinals for Tony Pena.
To most early 90s Pirates fans, Barry Bonds was clearly the best player on the team, but Andy Van Slyke was easily the most popular. He was a young, good looking Center Fielder and he represented the Pirates saying goodbye to the mid to late 80s, where the team was awful and hello to one of the greatest runs in franchise history. Van Slyke wasn’t just ceremonial, he was also wickedly talented. In his eight years in Pittsburgh, he hit 114 home runs and put together a line of .283/.353/.458/.811/.124OPS+ and was worth 30.9WAR.
Andy Van Slyke wasn’t the only player acquired in this trade as Mike LaValliere was also a big piece to the Pirates division titles of 1990, 1991 and 1992. He wasn’t an offensive juggernaut by any means, but his numbers from the catcher position were more than respectable. In his seven years with the Pirates, Spanky hit .278/.363/.351/.714/102OPS+ and also won a Gold Glove in 1987 when he threw out 45 percent of would be base stealers. In his time with the Pirates, he was above league average in caught stealing in four of his seven seasons.
Mike Dunne didn’t contribute to the NL East division winners of the 1990s, but he was a solid pitcher in his three seasons with the Pirates. Going 21-18 with a 3.65ERA and a 4.43FIP. He also finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1987.
Tony Pena was a very good catcher in his seven seasons in Pittsburgh before the trade. He hit .286/.327/.411/.738/104OPS+. He was also a six time All Star and a four time Gold Glove winner with the Pirates. He was still a fairly solid player with the Cardinals, helping them reach the World Series in 1987. His numbers however were down while in St. Louis, he hit .248/.303/.342/.645/79OPS+. There’s also no comparing his value to LaValliere’s and Van Slykes. Pena was worth 2.2WAR with the Cardinals, while in the same time, Van Slyke alone was worth 15.3WAR. Pena did rebound and put up some solid seasons in Boston, but Van Slyke by himself makes this trade a win for the Pirates. Throw in Mike LaValliere and it’s pretty obvious that the Pirates hosed the Cardinals in this deal.
Next: Final Thoughts