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Fregosi's trade tree bore Halos HOF bounty

@RhettBollinger
April 29, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Jim Fregosi was the first face of the franchise for the Angels, and he went from being selected in the expansion draft in 1960 to becoming a six-time All-Star with the club. He was the club’s all-time leader in WAR until Mike Trout came along, but Fregosi’s impact

ANAHEIM -- Jim Fregosi was the first face of the franchise for the Angels, and he went from being selected in the expansion draft in 1960 to becoming a six-time All-Star with the club.

He was the club’s all-time leader in WAR until Mike Trout came along, but Fregosi’s impact on the franchise continued long after he was traded to the Mets before the 1972 season. That move would create a trade tree that included two Angels Hall of Famers and lasted until '90.

More Trade Trees

Here’s a look at how Fregosi being traded to the Mets impacted the organization for decades to come:

Dec. 14, 1960
Angels select Fregosi from the Red Sox as the No. 35 pick in the 1960 expansion draft

The 1960 expansion draft featured the Angels and the Washington Senators, who were set to join Major League Baseball for the '61 season. Each selection was $75,000 and both clubs filled 28-man rosters. Fregosi lasted until the 35th pick and turned out to be a steal for the Angels. Fregosi made his debut as a 19-year-old and established himself as a regular by '63. He was an All-Star in '64, and from '66-70 while forming the game's best double-play duo with Bobby Knoop.

In 1971, a tumor was discovered in Fregosi's foot, and it made the Angels worry about his future, so they decided to trade the first real star of the franchise.

Dec. 10, 1971
Angels trade Fregosi to the Mets for Frank Estrada, Don Rose, Nolan Ryan and Leroy Stanton

The Angels had their eye on the hard-throwing Ryan, who had plenty of potential but frustrated the Mets with his wildness on the mound. Ryan had just concluded his age-24 season and had posted a 3.97 ERA with 137 strikeouts and 116 walks in 152 innings.

Fregosi was coming off a down season with the Angels during which he hit just .233 with five homers in 107 games after hitting .278 with 22 homers the year before. But he was still just entering his age-30 season, and the Mets were optimistic.

What was regarded as a fair trade at the time obviously became incredibly lopsided for the Angels, as Ryan finally harnessed his stuff and Fregosi struggled for two seasons in New York before the Rangers purchased his contract on July 11, 1973.

Ryan pitched for the Angels for eight seasons, posting a 3.07 ERA with 2,416 strikeouts in 2,181 1/3 innings, including a Major League-record 383 strikeouts in 1973. He was a five-time All-Star with the Angels, was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame and had his No. 30 retired by the franchise. He left via free agency to join the Astros in 1980, becoming the game’s first million-dollar player.

Estrada never played for the Angels and was traded in 1972 to the Orioles for reliever Tom Dukes, who made seven appearances in '72. Stanton played with the Angels from '72-76.

But it was the acquisition of Rose that led to yet another Angels Hall of Famer eventually joining the club. Rose played just one season with the Angels before being traded in 1973.

July 6, 1973
Angels trade Rose and Bruce Christensen to the Giants for Ed Figueroa

Figueroa was an interesting case, as he served in the Vietnam War as a member of the Marine Corps and signed with the Giants in 1970 upon being discharged. The Angels acquired him for Rose and Bruce Christensen, and he made his debut in '74. He had a breakout sophomore season with the club, posting a 2.91 ERA in 244 2/3 innings, but the Angels needed some offense after finishing last in their division, so he was traded to the Yankees.

Dec. 11, 1975
Angels trade Figueroa and Mickey Rivers to the Yankees for Bobby Bonds

Bonds was coming off an All-Star season with the Yankees that saw him hit 32 homers and steal 30 bases. He struggled during his first season with the Angels but bounced back in 1977, hitting 37 homers and stealing 41 bases while driving in 115 runs.

He was traded after the 1977 season and played for five teams over his final four seasons in the Majors.

Dec. 5, 1977
Angels trade Bonds, Thad Bosley and Richard Dotson to the White Sox for Brian Downing, Dave Frost and Chris Knapp

Downing was considered a player with plenty of potential, as he was a catcher who could hit but suffered from injuries early in his career. It was a homecoming for Downing, who attended Magnolia High School in Anaheim and began a committed weightlifting routine that was unusual at the time.

It paid off for Downing, who was an All-Star catcher in his second season with the Angels in 1979 before moving to left field in '81 after sustaining a broken ankle. Downing became a mainstay for the club from '78-90, leading the Angels to the postseason in '79, '82 and '86.

When Downing left the club after the 1990 season, he was the franchise’s all-time leader in just about every meaningful offensive category. He was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

Frost pitched with the Angels from 1978-81 and Knapp from 1978-80, but Downing was the crown jewel of the trade. He left the club via free agency in '91 and signed with the Rangers, which put an end to the Fregosi trade tree that lasted 30 years.

Fittingly, Fregosi returned to manage the Angels from 1978-81, managing both Ryan and Downing, the prized fruits of the trade tree.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.