earlier today, the Pirates have a less than stellar track record with free agents over the last 20 years. Aside from a collusion-filled 2002-03 offseason where the Pirates picked up Kenny Lofton, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Suppan, and Matt Stairs at rock bottom prices, the typical offseason additions are a list of past their prime corner outfielders and no-hit backup shortstops.
So a list of the top FA pickups is bound to be unimpressive. But the fact that Danny Darwin could be the top Pirates free agent signing during that period? Yeah...
It's not that Danny Darwin was a bad pitcher. He spent 21 seasons in the majors working almost exclusively as a starter in every season (never winning more than 15 games). But when the Pirates signed Darwin for the 1995 season, he was 40 years old.
Arguably the Pirates best free agent pickup since genie pants were in fashion was a 40 year old pitcher.
Still, Darwin pitched admirably in 17 starts, compiling a 7-9 record and 3.02 ERA. Most importantly, he pitched well enough to get dealt to Houston for future Pirates closer Rich Loiselle. Of course upon arrival in Houston, Darwin's numbers imploded in a fashion that even the Astrodome couldn't salvage. Still, Darwin managed to pitch another 3 years in the majors before finally calling it quits.
But when people think of Danny Darwin, they will undoubtedly remember his 15 seasons spent between Texas' two teams. Few will recall one of the greatest Pirate signings of the past quarter century.
And maybe that's not a bad thing.