The Pittsburgh Pirates Five Best Trades Of The Neal Huntington Era
Number One: Pittsburgh Pirates trade Minor League outfielder Exicardo Cayones and Minor League pitcher Diego Moreno to the New York Yankees for starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. (February 18th, 2012)
In my opinion, February 18th, 2012, is one of the most important dates in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Why you may ask? Because this was the day that Neal Huntington traded for starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.
From the time A.J. Burnett arrived in Pittsburgh he brought a much needed no-nonsense attitude to the Pirates. Burnett was not going to allow the team to have a poor attitude, or to accept being the National League’s punching bag any longer. Not only did Burnett talk the talk, he most certainly walked the walk as well.
Between 2012 and 2013 A.J. Burnett pitched 393 1/3 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He averaged 8.90 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, 0.66 HR/9, and had a 1.23 WHIP. This led to Burnett posting a 3.41 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 3.17 xFIP, and a 7.2 WAR combined between these two seasons.
What did the Pirates give up in exchange for Burnett? Well, essentially, nothing. The Pirates sent the Yankees outfielder Exicardo Cayones who never played above High-A, and no longer plays professionally, and right-handed pitcher Diego Moreno who has a 5.23 ERA in 10 1/3 career Major League innings.
Following the 2013 season A.J. Burnett would sign a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. However, he would later admit he regretted doing this. As a result, he returned to Pittsburgh for a magical swan song in 2015.
In 2015 Burnett helped guide the Pittsburgh Pirates to 98 wins, while also making his first career All-Star Game, in his final Major League season. Burnett posted a 3.18 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 7.85 K/9, 2.69 BB/9, 0.60 HR/9 and a 2.8 WAR in his final season.
In his three seasons in Pittsburgh A.J. Burnett became one of the most popular players in the long, storied history of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. He also became one of the best pitchers in the franchise’s history. Most importantly, he helped changed the culture around the entire Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. He helped take the Pittsburgh Pirates from being perennial losers, and turning them into perennial contenders. And it cost the Pirates, essentially, nothing.
Next: In Conclusion