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Who Neal Huntington Likes To Trade With And How Often

These are the kinds of articles you get in mid-January

Frequent trade partners Brian Cashman (left), Theo Epstein (center), and Neal Huntington (right).
(AP Photo/Andy Duback)

Neal Huntington is about to enter his 10th Major League season as GM of the Pirates.  That alone is an accomplishment, as he is now the 4th most tenured GM in all of baseball.  Some GM’s have been doing it longer (like Dave Dombrowski, for instance), but not in one continuous place like Huntington has.  For some, the fact that Huntington is still GM is an affront to common sense and human decency, but many of these detractors are the kind that judge a season as “World Series or Bust”.  Considering that Neal Huntington inherited what was essentially an expansion team, in terms of talent base and infrastructure, his first few years can be excused by me as he was accruing talent.

Part of the process of accruing talent for any GM is through trades.  Not every trade that a GM makes is one that causes doves to cry and trumpets to blare.  Sometimes a GM calls another GM and says “I need a bullpen guy for AAA,” or “I need a middle infielder for my AA team.”  And Neal Huntington sure likes to trade.  Using the handy dandy transaction tracker on MLB Trade Rumors, I data mined all of Huntington’s trades back to his hire date in September 2007.

Over the course of his 9+ years as GM, Huntington has made 116 total trades.  The vast majority of these are insignificant in nature, involving players I’ve either long forgotten or never heard of in the first place (Brian Myrow, anyone?).  I’m not going to show or discuss every one of these 116 trades, but rather I’d like to pull out a few interesting factoids for your reading consumption.

ONE MORE TO COMPLETE THE SET

To date, Neal Huntington has traded with 28 franchises.  This means that there is only one franchise in MLB he has not made a deal with.  Any guesses?  I’ll wait.

I can’t wait any longer — it’s the St. Louis Cardinals.  I can’t chalk this up to the old (and untrue) adage about not trading within your division.  If there’s a deal, there’s a deal.  To demonstrate, Huntington has made five separate deals with the Milwaukee Brewers in his tenure, including his very first trade just a month in as GM (Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts for Salomon Torres, if interested).  When you see that the Cardinals’ GM, John Mozeliak, was hired just month after him, you’d think there would be a degree of “we’re in this together” between them.  So far, that has not been the case.

With the Cardinals and Pirates now direct competition for (probably) 2nd place in the NL Central and a Wild Card spot, it’s hard to see this changing in 2017.

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN

There are two franchises that Huntington has dealt with, regardless of who was sitting in the GM chair — Arizona and San Diego.  In both cases, Huntington has made deals with 3 different GM’s over the course of his Pirate career.  For Arizona, it’s been Kevin Towers, Jerry Dipoto, and Dave Stewart.  With San Diego, it’s been Kevin Towers (odd), Jed Hoyer, and Josh Byrnes.  Huntington has outlasted them all.

A RESTRAINING ORDER MAY BE REQUIRED

I’m not sure if Neal Huntington has The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” playing in the background when he calls him, but he’s followed Jerry Dipoto to each of his three stops as GM to make a deal with him.  Poor Dipoto probably has to keep changing his cell number to try and throw Neal off his trail for a bit, but there’s Neal at every Winter GM meeting…waiting for him in the lobby…ready to forgive him for moving without telling him.  Jerry promises it won’t happen again.

Anywho…here’s the deals that Huntington and Dipoto have collaborated on:

  • ARIZONA (July 2010) — Pirates sent P D.J. Carrasco, INF Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church to Diamondbacks for C Chris Snyder, SS Pedro Ciriaco, $3M cold hard cash.
  • LA ANGELS (June 2014) — Pirates jettisoned P Jason Grilli for P Ernesto Frieri.
  • SEATTLE (September 2016) — Two separate deals here — first was P Wade LeBlanc for cash, then he got back pitchers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez as the PTBNL’s in the Arquimedes Caminero deal.

Not exactly blockbusters, but rather the kind of incremental deals that are the minutia of a GM’s day.

DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS?

When Neal wants to make a deal, one name has stood above them all over the years.  It’s been with the longest-tenured GM in baseball, Brian Cashman of the Yankees.  These two have paired up for a total of 9 deals together, with the 2nd closest pairing with Huntington having six trades.

I would hazard to say that by and large, the pipeline with the Yankees has been Huntington’s most successful overall trading partner.  The A.J. Burnett trade in February 2012 (for Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno) and the Francisco Cervelli deal of November 2014 (for Justin Wilson) reaped the most benefit for the Pirates.

Although his name is tarnished around these parts, the Jose Tabata trade brought back some important pieces that helped stabilize the AAA/MLB roster at the time.  Tabata didn’t pan out as hoped, but the Pirates also squeezed out some value from Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, and Ross Ohlendorf, all for just a few months of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.

And if you’re curious, there’s a two-way tie for 2nd place on the Huntington speed dial between Dan Duquette of Baltimore and ex-GM Frank Wren of his Atlanta days.  With Duquette, there’s some shared history as both of them are Amherst College graduates (although not at the same time) and Huntington spent some time in the Montreal front office back in 1995 while Duquette was GM there from 1987-1994.  Memories!

THE RAW DATA

If you haven’t got your fill of Huntington trade trivia yet, here’s the overall tallies.  First is number of trades by team, regardless of who the other GM was:

  • Arizona — 5
  • Atlanta — 7
  • Baltimore — 7
  • Boston — 8
  • Chicago Cubs — 1
  • Chicago White Sox — 2
  • Cincinnati — 1
  • Cleveland — 7
  • Colorado — 3
  • Detroit — 4
  • Florida/Miami — 5
  • Houston — 2
  • Kansas City — 3
  • LA Angels — 2
  • LA Dodgers — 4
  • Milwaukee — 5
  • Minnesota — 3
  • New York Mets — 4
  • New York Yankees — 9
  • Oakland — 2
  • Philadelphia — 5
  • San Diego — 4
  • Seattle — 5
  • San Francisco — 2
  • Tampa Bay — 4
  • Texas — 2
  • Toronto — 6
  • Washington — 4

And now by GM, regardless of what team they were GM of at the time.

  • Al Avila — 1
  • Alex Anthopolous — 3
  • Andrew Friedman — 4
  • Andy MacPhail — 1
  • Ben Cherington — 3
  • Billy Beane — 2
  • Billy Eppler — 1
  • Brian Cashman — 9
  • Brian Sabean — 2
  • Chris Antonetti — 3
  • Dan Duquette — 6
  • Dan O’Dowd — 2
  • Dave Dombrowski — 3
  • Dave Stewart — 1
  • David Stearns — 1
  • Dayton Moore — 3
  • Doug Melvin — 4
  • Ed Wade — 1
  • Frank Wren — 6
  • J.P. Riccardi — 1
  • Jack Zduriencik — 3
  • Jed Hoyer — 2
  • Jeff Bridich — 1
  • Jeff Luhnow — 1
  • Jerry Dipoto — 4
  • John Hart — 1
  • Jon Daniels — 2
  • Josh Byrnes — 1
  • Kenny Williams — 2
  • Kevin Towers — 4
  • Larry Beinfest — 3
  • Mark Shapiro — 4
  • Matt Klentak — 2
  • Matt Silverman — 1
  • Michael Hill — 2
  • Mike Rizzo — 4
  • Ned Colletti — 3
  • Ross Atkins — 2
  • Ruben Amaro, Jr. — 3
  • Sandy Alderson — 4
  • Terry Ryan — 3
  • Theo Epstein — 5
  • Walt Jocketty — 1
About Kevin Creagh (289 Articles)
Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.