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Exploring the trade tree of Brian Giles

MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I find MLB transactions, specifically trades, to be fascinating.

Over a long period, it’s fun to look at certain trade trees. I don’t know if that is the correct term per se, but what I mean is, a player is traded for and eventually traded away again. Sometimes this cycle is repeated many times and spans over decades.

Today I want to look at the Brian Giles trade tree.

On November 18, 1998, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded LHP Ricardo Rincon to the Cleveland Indians for OF Giles. The previous year, Rincon had been signed by the Pirates out of the Mexican Baseball League. Technically, Rincon is the start of this tree, but the success of Giles got the ball rolling.

Giles was extraordinary for the Pirates. Over 3,114 plate appearances spanning from 1999 to 2003, he hit .308/.426/.591 with 165 home runs and had an OPS+ of 158. To this point, Giles has been the greatest Pirates hitter of the current millennium. Unfortunately, the Pirates stunk out loud during his time in Pittsburgh. Thus, on August 23, 2003, he was traded (in an endless rebuild) to the San Diego Padres for OF Jason Bay and LHPs, Oliver Perez and Cory Stewart. Stewart never reached the majors.

Bay was solid for the Pirates in parts of six seasons from 2003-08. Over 3,038 PA with the club, he hit .281/.375/.515 with 139 home runs and had an OPS+ of 131. Perez lasted parts of four seasons with the Pirates. Over 398 innings pitched, he had a 4.59 ERA with 421 strikeouts and 214 walks. Naturally, the Pirates were still terrible when both of these players spent time in Pittsburgh.

Bay branch

During the trade deadline of 2008, Bay was traded as part of a three-team deal that sent him to the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates received 3B Andy LaRoche and RHP Bryan Morris from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with RHP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss from the Red Sox. OF Manny Ramirez was sent from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.

This trade did not work out well for the Pirates. Laroche spend parts of three years in Pittsburgh from 2008-10 hitting .226/.296/.341 with 19 home runs over 1044 PA. He was eventually non-tendered after the 2010 season.

Hansen pitched 20 total innings in parts of two seasons with the Pirates. His ERA was 6.95. He was eventually released by the organization in 2011.

In parts of three seasons with the Pirates, Moss hit .228/.295/.373 with 13 home runs in 628 PA. Like Laroche, he was non-tendered after the 2010 season. It should be noted though that Moss eventually found success in the majors totaling 160 career home runs over an 11-year career. He even made the All-Star team in 2014.

Morris got his call to the big leagues with the Pirates in 2012. In parts of three seasons as a reliever, Morris had a 3.96 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched. On June 1, 2014, he was traded to the Miami Marlins for a competitive balance round A pick. Four days later, the Pirates drafted OF Connor Joe with that pick. Joe, who never made the majors with the Pirates, was eventually traded to the Atlanta Braves on August 5, 2017 for none other than Sean Rodriguez. It was Serpico’s second stint with the Pirates. He would be released towards the end of the 2018 season.

Perez branch

During the trade deadline of 2006, Perez was traded to the New York Mets along with RHP Roberto Hernandez for OF Xavier Nady. During his three years in Pittsburgh, Nady was solid. Over 1,050 plate appearances, he hit .301/.353/.482 with 36 home runs and registered an OPS+ of 117. His above-average play made him a nice trade asset for the still rebuilding Pirates during the summer of 2008. On July 26 of that year, Nady was dealt (along with left-handed reliever Damaso Marte) to the New York Yankees in exchange for RHPs Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, and Ross Ohlendorf along with OF Jose Tabata.

There was a time when this trade looked like a huge win for the Pirates. It ended up being just okay. Karstens was a decent starter in his five seasons in Pittsburgh. Over 535 innings, he had a 4.31 ERA with 309 K and 133 BB. For a time, he was a solid back end of the rotation guy. He was non-tendered after the 2012 season.

McCutchen spent four years with the Pirates, mostly as a reliever. In 188.2 innings, he had a 4.77 ERA with 104 K and 73 BB. He too was non-tendered after the 2012 season.

Ohlendorf lasted parts of four years in Pittsburgh as a starter. Over 346.1 innings, he had a 4.60 ERA with 228 K and 124 BB. He was released after the 2011 season.

Tabata lasted the longest in Pittsburgh out of the four. In six seasons with the Pirates, he hit .275/.336/.377 with 17 home runs and had an OPS+ of 99. During the trade deadline of 2015, Tabata was traded to the Dodgers for 1B/OF Mike Morse.

In 90 PA over parts of two seasons with the Pirates, Morse hit .247/.356/.351 with one home run. His OPS+ was 96. He was released in April of 2016.

From Rincon to Seanrod and Morse, this specific trade tree spanned over three separate decades, two separate owners (Kevin McClatchy and Bob Nutting), and three separate GMs (Cam Bonifay, Dave Littlefield, and Neal Huntington).