Jul 25, 2015; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven waves as he and wife arrive at National Baseball Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
- December 9, 1980: Bert Blyeven and Manny Sanguillen traded to the Cleveland Indians for Gary Alexander, Victor Cruz, Bob Owchinko and Rafael Vasquez.
The Pirates were only one season removed from the “We Are Family” World Series winning team, but you could see it was about to be a down swing for the team as they they sent away World Series heros, Bert Blyleven and Manny Sanguillen to the Cleveland Indians for a very minimal return.
Bert Blyleven only spent three seasons with the Pirates, but in that time he was a front line, albeit inconsistent starting pitcher. He went 34-28 with a 3.47ERA, a 3.26FIP, an ERA+ of 109 and was worth 9.9WAR. After being traded from the Pirates, Blyleven continued his winning ways and eventually became an Hall of Fame pitcher with a record of 287-250 an ERA of 3.31, a FIP of 3.19, an ERA+ of 118 and was worth 96.5WAR.
Manny Sanguillen despite being involved in this trade, never appeared in a game for the Cleveland Indians, so he really doesn’t factor much in this being one of the worst trades in Pirates history.
The return for this trade was very mediocre as none of the players really turned into anything special for the Pirates.
Gary Alexander spent one very mediocre season with the Pirates where he hit .213/.255/.404/.659/82OPS+.
Victor Cruz had a successful but very brief season with the Pirates before being traded to the Texas Rangers in 1982. In his one Pirates season he appeared in only 22 games, but pitched to a 2.65ERA, 4.66FIP, an ERA+ of 139 and was worth 1.4WAR.
Bob Owchinko did not appear in a game with the Pirates as a part of this trade as he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for Ernie Camacho and cash. He did however, rejoin the team in the 1983 season, appeared in one game and pitched to an infinity ERA.
Rafael Vásquez never appeared in a game with the Pirates. He spent the 1981in Double-A and pitched to a 4-8 record with a 3.98ERA and a WHIP of 1.408 before retiring following the season.
When you trade a player that eventually becomes a Hall of Famer and the return is as paltry as this one it automatically becomes a huge loss for the Pirates. Only Victor Cruz made any impact with the Pirates and he only pitched one season with the team. With returns like this, it’s no wonder the Pirates went from World Series Champions in 1979 to one of the worst teams in the league by the mid 1980s.
As bad as the 1980s Pirates were, they do not compare to the Pirates of the 1940s and 50s, who’s only draw was a home run hitting outfielder until they sent their only draw packing. Which brings us to number two on the worst trades list…
Next: Number 3