Top Five worst trades in Pittsburgh Pirates history

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Jun 28, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez (16) hits a double in the seventh inning during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

  1. July 23, 2003: Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton and cash to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez and Bobby Hill.

We’ve kind of come full circle on this trade with the recent acquisition of Aramis Ramirez, but that doesn’t undo just how absolutely dreadful this trade was. Ramirez was the top prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was called up in 1998 and from then until the trade he was a very steady player for the Buccos. In that time he hit 76 home runs and slashed .262/.311/.434/.746/90OPS+ and was worth 1.1WAR after the trade to Chicago, Ramirez blew up and became one of the league’s best players. From 2003 until 2011 he slugged 239 home runs and hit .294/.356/.531/.887/126OPS+ and was worth 23.8WAR.

Kenny Lofton was an already well established player by the time he got to the Pirates. Him being traded wasn’t a huge surprise, but being included in this trade seemed completely out of no where. He wasn’t anything overly special with the Pirates in his half season with the team, but he was productive. He slashed .277/.333/.437/.770/98OPS+ and accumulated 1.6WAR. After being traded to Chicago his numbers all increased and he helped the Cubs win the NL Central and come within a Bartman’s hand of the World Series. He hit .327/.381/.471/120OPS+ and was worth 1.8WAR.

Like all truly bad trades, the return on this one is hilariously pathetic. None of the players involved were with the organization by the end of the 2005 season. So this trade was a failure within two seasons and that isn’t easy to pull off. The center piece of the trade was Bobby Hill, which is basically the punchline of a horrible joke. In parts of three seasons with the Pirates, the man Dave Littlefield said “change fans opinion of the trade” hit .267/.352/.337/.689/83OPS+ and ended up worth 0.2WAR. He only played in 185 games with the Pirates and was DFA’d in the middle of the 2005 season. He never again appeared in the Major Leagues.

Jose Hernandez was already a veteran of 13 Big League seasons by the time he got to the Pirates in this trade and it still makes no sense why Dave Littlefield would send a young in prime third baseman to a division rival for a 33-year-old infielder. Heck his career wasn’t exactly impressive before he got to the Pirates. He was a below average player when he was in his prime. In his 125 games with the Pirates, he hit five home runs and slashed .240/.299/.335/.635/64OPS+ and was worth -0.1WAR.

Matt Bruback never appeared in a game for the Pirates and was out of the system by the end of the 2003 season. In his one Triple-A season in the organization he went 2-2 with a 4.91ERA and a WHIP of 1.364. He never made Major Leagues and eventually retired after the 2006 season with the Baltimore Orioles organization.

This trade still leaves a bitter taste in a lot of people’s mouths for a variety of reasons. It was another bad move by maybe the worst GM in Pittsburgh sports history and because he sent Ramirez away to a division rival, Pittsburgh fans had to watch as he developed into one of the league’s most feared sluggers and seemingly tormented the Pirates every single time he played against the team.

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