Guardians' top 5 Winter Meetings transactions

November 23rd, 2021

The Winter Meetings have been the setting for some of the most impactful transactions in Guardians franchise history, including deals for players who played huge roles for the 1995 and 2016 AL pennant clubs.

Let’s take a look back at five of the top moves the team has made during the Winter Meetings.

1) Establishing the foundation of the '90s teams with Alomar and Baerga (Dec. 6, 1989)
CLE acquires: Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, Chris James
SD acquires: Joe Carter

It was the trade that laid the groundwork for the Cleveland's magical teams of the 1990s. The franchise-defining trade that sent slugger Carter to the Padres brought in Alomar and Baerga -- two critical pillars in the '90s foundation. Then-general manager Hank Peters had Alomar locked into the trade and was eventually able to convince San Diego to include Baerga in the deal during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

The deal worked out quite well for the Indians. In 1990, Alomar won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in the opening of his 11-year career in Cleveland, where he'd go on to hit .277 with a .734 OPS, 92 homers and 453 RBIs in 985 games. Baerga was a 21-year-old utility guy in ’90, but he went on to hit .299 with a .783 OPS, four All-Star selections and two AL Silver Slugger Awards in eight seasons with Cleveland.

2) Kenny Lofton arrives (Dec. 10, 1991)
CLE acquires: Kenny Lofton, Dave Rohde
HOU acquires: Willie Blair, Ed Taubensee

The Tribe landed two important pieces of its 1990s teams at the Nashville Winter Meetings in ’89, so it’s only fitting another key cog was obtained at the Winter Meetings two years later. The Tribe sent just Blair (who had a 6.75 ERA in ’91) and Taubensee (who played in just 26 games in ’91) in exchange for a player who became one of the most iconic to come through Cleveland. Lofton hadn’t shown much in his first Major League season with the Astros, but he exploded with Cleveland, ending his 10-year stint with a .300 average, an .800 OPS, 87 homers, 518 RBIs, six All-Star selections and three AL Gold Glove Awards.

3) Three-team deal brings Trevor Bauer to Cleveland (Dec. 11, 2012)
CLE acquires: Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, Matt Albers, Drew Stubbs (from CIN)
ARI acquires: Didi Gregorius (from CIN), Lars Anderson, Tony Sipp
CIN acquires: Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald

Bauer will be the first to say that he didn’t have the best reputation in Arizona, getting dubbed a “bad clubhouse guy.” But after a three-team deal that brought him and Shaw to Cleveland, Bauer had a chance to flip that script. Though he maintained his nontraditional throwing programs, Bauer found a good fit with Cleveland, owning a 3.89 ERA in 180 appearances (170 starts) with a 3.85 FIP and 1,094 strikeouts in 1,044 1/3 frames in his time with the Tribe. Shaw posted a 3.11 ERA in five seasons with Cleveland, with a 3.45 FIP and a 1.188 WHIP.

4) Tribe lands Hafner (Dec. 6, 2002)
CLE acquires: Travis Hafner, Aaron Myette
TEX acquires: Einar Diaz, Ryan Drese

Hafner's MLB career got off to a quiet start, with 23 games with the Rangers in his debut season in 2002. But the Indians traded for the slugger at the Winter Meetings that year, allowing him to leave his mark on the game during a 10-year stint with Cleveland. Over that period, Hafner hit .273 in 1,078 games, posting an .890 OPS with 200 homers and 688 RBIs. His Cleveland tenure was highlighted by a standout season in '06, when he led the AL in slugging percentage (.659) and OPS (1.097), while leading the Majors in OPS+ (181).

5) Franco comes to The Land (Dec. 6, 1982)
CLE acquires: Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller, Jerry Willard
PHI acquires: Von Hayes

Though he later found his way back to Cleveland for a short time, Franco began his first stretch with the team with a trade during the 1982 Winter Meetings. Franco had played just 16 big league games at that point, owning a .276 average with a .633 OPS with the Phillies before he went on to hit .295 with a .738 OPS, 156 doubles, 31 triples, 45 homers and 429 RBIs in 898 games from ’83-’88. He came back to the Indians in ’96 and half of ’97 to finish his career in Cleveland with a .297 average and .752 OPS.