10 trades that found their way to the Hall of Fame
Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez were three of the game's most dominant pitchers. They will be enshrined in Cooperstown together, along with Craig Biggio, this summer.
There, however, is more. They were each prospects dealt by teams with a win-now mentality whose memories hang over their original franchises.
What a shame for those original teams. Those three prospects wound up in the Hall of Fame.
Below are 10 deals that came back to haunt teams that were looking for veteran help and willing to give up a future Hall of Famer in the process.
• Babe Ruth was sold by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to the Yankees on Dec. 26, 1919, in what was believed to be money needed to finance the Broadway play "My Lady Friends," which evolved into the musical "No No Nanette." Red Sox fans knew Ruth was special. He hit .300 in four of his six seasons with them and from 1915-17 won 65 games. Ruth went on to become the face of Major League Baseball, making the home run a staple of the game, and helping the sport overcome the embarrassment of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The Red Sox? After having won five of the first 15 World Series, they went from 1918 to 2004 without a championship, advancing to the World Series only three times in that 86-year drought and losing in the maximum seven games each time.
• Nolan Ryan and three others were traded from the Mets to the Angels in exchange for Jim Fregosi on Dec. 10, 1971. While Ryan went on to win 324 games, strike out a record 5,714 batters and throw a record seven no-hitters, Fregosi went from an All-Star shortstop with the Angels to a journeyman. He played nine seasons after the trade, but the 101 games with the Mets in 1972 was the last time he appeared in as many as 100 in a season.
• Randy Johnson and two others were traded from the Expos to the Mariners for Mark Langston and Mike Campbell on May 25, 1989.
"I think they gave up on me sooner than I thought they would," Johnson, a second-round Draft pick in 1985, later said.
Johnson was the most dominant left-hander of the last half-century, helping provide credibility to the Mariners. The Expos were desperate to win to try to save their franchise, and Langston did his job, going 12-9 with a 2.39 ERA, but the team went 81-81, finished fourth in the National League East and lost Langston as a free agent.
• Lou Brock was traded on June 15, 1964, from the Cubs to the Cardinals in a six-player deal that was built around the Cubs acquiring Ernie Broglio, a 28-year-old pitcher who had won 21 games in 1960 and 18 in '63. Brock became baseball's all-time stolen base leader at the time he retired, hit .300 or better in seven full seasons with the Cards and led the NL in stolen bases eight times. Broglio went 7-19 for the Cubs and retired after the 1966 season. He later admitted he had a bad elbow at the time of the trade and was receiving cortisone injections.
• John Smoltz was traded from the Tigers to the Braves for right-hander Doyle Alexander Aug. 12, 1987. The Tigers needed a veteran starter to hold off the Blue Jays in the battle for the American League East title and Alexander did that, going 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in nine starts the final weeks of that season. He was even an All-Star in 1988, but was a combined 20-29 with a 4.38 ERA for Detroit in 1988 and '89. Smoltz, a 20-year-old who was 11-19 in 38 Minor League games at the time, became the only player to be with the Braves in each of their 14 consecutive division title seasons, and moved from the rotation to the bullpen to serve as the team's closer for three seasons.
• Pedro Martinez was traded from the Dodgers to the Expos on Nov. 19, 1993, in exchange for Delino DeShields. The Dodgers were desperate for a second baseman after Jody Reed rejected a three-year, $7.8 million offer to become a free agent (and eventually signed a one-year contract with Milwaukee for $350,000 plus incentives). They liked the athleticism of DeShields, a former No. 1 pick who had been offered a basketball scholarship to Villanova with a promise to start as a freshman. And while Martinez was 10-5 with a 2.61 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 107 innings as a reliever in 1993, he was 5-foot-11 and had left-shoulder surgery after the 1992 season, making the Dodgers leery of his durability. DeShields hit .241 with 15 home runs in 370 games over three seasons with the Dodgers. Martinez became a three-time Cy Young Award winner with a career 2.93 ERA.
• Joe Morgan was acquired on Nov. 29, 1971, along with four other players, by the Reds from the Astros for three players, including starting first baseman Lee May and second baseman Tommy Helms in an effort by general manager Bob Howsam to add speed to Cincinnati's lineup. Fans were upset at the time, but eight years later, they had won five division titles, became the last NL team to win back-to-back World Series (1975-76), and Morgan, who had a bad rap with the Astros of being a malcontent, was a key cog in the Big Red Machine. He was an All-Star all eight years, won two NL MVP Awards, stole 406 bases and hit .288. In addition, the Reds acquired rotation workhorse Jack Billingham and speedy outfielder Cesar Geronimo in the deal.
• Frank Robinson was acquired by the Orioles from the Reds on Dec. 9, 1965. The O's were concerned that the former AL MVP Award winner, at the age of 30, was on the downside of his career, but in six years with Baltimore, he hit .300 with 179 home runs, won another MVP Award and helped the Orioles to four World Series, winning two of them, including one over the Reds in 1970. The Reds didn't get much in return from pitchers Jack Baldschun (1-5, 5.25 in 51 relief appearances in two years with Cincinnati), Milt Pappas (30-29, 4.04 ERA in three years) and outfielder Dick Simpson (.246 in 136 games over two years).
• Dennis Eckersley was traded, along with infielder Dan Rohn, from the Cubs to the A's on April 3, 1987, for three Minor League prospects who never appeared in the big leagues. A quality arm and a free spirit, Eckersley had been a solid starting pitcher, but the A's convinced him his future was in the bullpen. He adapted well, earning 320 saves in his nine years with Oakland and then 66 more in two years when he was reunited with manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan in St. Louis.
• Tony Perez was part of a four-player deal that sent him from the Reds to the Expos on Dec. 16, 1976. It wasn't so much what Perez did after he left Cincinnati -- where he had hit .286 with 261 home runs and 1,028 RBIs the 10 previous seasons. It's what happened to the Reds, who had won back-to-back championships in 1975-76. A team that won five NL West titles in Sparky Anderson's first seven seasons as a manager lost the force that kept the clubhouse together and, after back-to-back finishes behind the Dodgers, led to Anderson's dismissal. Anderson later said he underestimated the value of clubhouse leadership at the time and called the Perez trade the biggest mistake of his Hall of Fame managerial career.