Pittsburgh Pirates: Revisiting the Joakim Soria Trade
By Marty Leap
The 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates won 98 games. A factor in this historic season was a very busy trade deadline, which included adding arguably the best reliever available at the deadline that season.
While the season ended in disappointment due to a loss in the National League Wild Card Game, the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the best teams in franchise history. Winning 98 games, the 2015 Pirates had a historically good season. This included being very busy during July’s trade deadline.
The players added by the Pittsburgh Pirates in July of 2015 included third baseman Aramis Ramirez, reliever Joe Blanton, utility man Michael Morse, and starting pitcher J.A. Happ. Former general manager Neal Huntington also added arguably the best reliever available at the deadline that year, righty Joakim Soria. Huntington was able to acquire Soria, who was a rental player, from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for prospect JaCoby Jones.
Led by Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, the Pirates already had one of the best bullpens in the National League. With the addition of Soria, plus guys such as Blanton, Jared Hughes and Antonio Bastardo, the team was able to effectively play 5 inning games.
With the Pirates, Soria logged 26.2 innings of work in 29 games. Soria posted a 2.03 ERA, 1.93 FIP, he did not allow any home runs, and posted a 26.2% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate in his 26.2 innings in Pittsburgh. He limited opposing batters to a 27.1% hard contact rate and induced ground balls 40.6% of the time. By any metric or stat, Soria was terrific in his two months with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As for the player given up in the trade, Jones has struggled in his MLB career. He made his MLB debut for the Tigers in 2016, and has gone on to play in 286 games for the Tigers of the course of the past four seasons.
In these 286 games, Jones has hit for a .211/.276/.369 slash line to go with a wRC+ of 70 in 982 plate appearances. His career fWAR is 0.3, and he’s posted a negative fWAR in three of his four MLB seasons.
On November 5, 2015, less than four months after being traded, Jones was suspended for 50 games. This was due to a second violation of MLB’s substance abuse policy. This suspension came while he was playing in the Arizona Fall League.
While at the time of the trade Jones was a promising prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates, trading him for Soria proved to be a win for the Bucs. Jones has since been suspended while becoming a well below average MLB player. Even though Soria was only a Pirate for two months, he was excellent in these two months and helped the team cap off one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.