Pittsburgh Pirates: Assessing the Best Free Agent Signings of the Past 25 Years

Which GM has the best track record of attracting talent to Pittsburgh?

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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Jeff Suppan (Jan. 2003, 1 year, $500,000; club option for 2004, $4 million)

This is it. Perhaps the most impactful free-agent signing for Pittsburgh in the early 21st century. Suppan had been a durable, if homer-prone, starter with a career ERA of 5.03, but the Pirates unlocked his potential. Over the first four months of the 2003 season, Suppan fired three complete games (two shutouts) and logged a 3.57 ERA. Littlefield then flipped him in a five-player deal with the Red Sox.

The two players that Pittsburgh received from Boston, Mike Gonzalez and Freddy Sanchez, helped guide the franchise through the mid-2000s. Gonzalez had an outstanding season in 2004 as a full-time member of the bullpen, posting a 0.877 WHIP. His best seasons came in Pittsburgh, and he moved to the Braves as a piece in the Adam LaRoche deal. Sanchez became a three-time All-Star and won the batting title in 2006.