Top Five worst trades in Pittsburgh Pirates history

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Jun 29, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detail view of a commemorative patch worn on the New York Mets uniforms to honor Mets former broadcaster Ralph Kiner during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

  1. June 4, 1953: Ralph Kiner, Joe Garagiola, George Metkovich and Howie Pollet traded to the Chicago Cubs for Bob Addis, Toby Atwell, George Freese, Gene Hermanski, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward and $150,000.

The Pirates of the 1940s and early 1950s were absolutely terrible. They had one draw and that draw was Ralph Kiner. He was a monster in his eight seasons with the Pirates, hitting 301 home runs and slashing .280/.405/.567/.971/OPS+149 and was worth 44.5WAR. Despite all of Kiner’s home runs, the team continued to be terrible and 41 games into the 1952 season, Kiner along with Joe Garagiola, George Metkovich and Howie Pollet were traded to the Chicago Cubs. Kiner actually never really saw success after the trade, playing only two more seasons, but his trade is included because of what it represented to the franchise at the time. Kiner was THE super star on the Pirates and to see him sent away mostly because of money issues really sent a bad message to the fan base. Kiner along with the other players traded really told their fans that the Pirates weren’t going to be winning any time soon. Joe Garagiola, George Metkovich and Howie Pollet were not super stars by any means, but they were all steady and consistent players with the Bucs.

Joe Garagiola spent parts of three seasons with the Pirates and in that time he was a very steady producer. Slashing .262/.362/.417/.778/110OPS+ and was worth 4.5WAR. After the trade he never really approached those numbers

George Metkovich also spent three seasons with the Pirates and in that time was an almost league average offensive player. In his time with the Pirates he hit .276/.333/.379/.711/92OPS+ and accumulated 2.0WAR. After being traded he only played two more Major League seasons and was mostly unimpressive.

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Howie Pollet was probably the easiest player to trade as his Pirates career was very underwhelming. In his four seasons with the Pirates he pitched to a 14-31 record with a 4.59ERA, a 4.47FIP and an ERA+ of 88. He was actually much better after the trade, pitching to a 4.19ERA, 3.76FIP and an ERA+ of 102 in three seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

The theme in all disappointing trades is the return is almost always terrible and the Kiner trade is no different. Bob Addis, Toby Atwell, George Freese, Gene Hermanski, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward were all very poor players for the Pirates and because they were traded for the Pirates franchise player, it’s especially bad. They never had a chance to live up to the legacy that was Ralph Kiner.

Bob Addis only appeared in three games for the Pirates in 1953 and never recorded hit in his three at-bats.

Toby Atwell spent four very mediocre seasons with the Pirates and his numbers were not pretty even by catchers’ standards. In his four seasons he put up a .250/.356/.315/.671/80OPS+.

George Freese spent one season with the Pirates and it was not a very strong one. He managed to hit a very pedestrian .257/.327/.374/701/88OPS+ and hit only three home runs and drove in 22.

Gene Hermanski played in only 41 games with the Pirates and in those 41 games he did nothing to impress the team or its angry fan base. Hitting a horrible .177/.282/.226/.507/35OPS+. He was released after the season and promptly retired.

Bob Schultz only appeared in 11 games for the Pirates and posted an 8.20ERA, a 6.08FIP and an ERA+ of 25. He then missed the entire 1954 season with an injury before being traded to the Detroit Tigers .

Preston Ward was probably the most successful piece in the Kiner trade, which is a testament to just how bad the trade was. In his four seasons with the Pirates, Ward hit .240/.326/.368/.694/83OPS+. He also hit 21 home runs as a member of the Pirates.

While Ralph Kiner never really found success after being traded from Pittsburgh, the laughably bad return still makes this one of the worst trades in Pirates history. The team traded a home run hitting superstar and only managed to get back mediocre players at best and dreaful players at worst, but I’ll bet that $150,000 felt really good to a team struggling to draw a crowd after the trading of Kiner.

The Kiner trade was a salary dump, pure and simple and those kind of trades usually end in disaster. Which brings us to the number one worst trade in Pirates history…

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