Franchise players don't get traded often.These are the players who break into the Majors with an organization, develop into stars there and help carry the team to greater heights. There are plenty of on-field reasons not to deal such a player, not to mention emotional and sentimental ones. It's not
Franchise players don't get traded often.
These are the players who break into the Majors with an organization, develop into stars there and help carry the team to greater heights. There are plenty of on-field reasons not to deal such a player, not to mention emotional and sentimental ones. It's not easy to send away someone who has meant so much to his team and city.
But such a trade isn't unprecedented, and sometimes a franchise player still in or near his prime is dealt by his original club. Here is a look at some of the most notable examples from throughout baseball history, beginning with the most recent.
December 2018: D-backs trade 1B Paul Goldschmidt to Cardinals
Goldschmidt departed the desert only after cementing his place as the best position player in the franchise's young history. Blossoming from an eighth-round pick in the 2009 Draft into a six-time All-Star and three-time top-three National League MVP finisher, Goldy left as the D-backs' all-time leader in OBP (.398), slugging (.532), OPS+ (145), walks (655), and wins above replacement for position players (40.1). He also won three Gold Glove Awards at first. But with just one season remaining before the 31-year-old was scheduled to reach free agency, Arizona chose to send him to St. Louis for three young players, including catcher Carson Kelly and pitcher Luke Weaver.
January 2018: Pirates trade OF Andrew McCutchen to Giants
McCutchen, a first-round pick by the Pirates in 2005, came up to the Majors in '09 and became the driving force behind a baseball renaissance in the Steel City. In '13, Cutch took NL MVP honors, as the Bucs won 94 games and made the postseason for the first time since Barry Bonds left following the 1992 season. In McCutchen's nine seasons in Pittsburgh, he was selected to five All-Star teams and finished in the top five in MVP voting four times, while his 203 home runs were the most by a Bucs player over the past 40 years. But like Goldschmidt, McCutchen was dealt ahead of his last year before free agency, then sent on to the Yankees on Aug. 31 before signing with the Phillies in the offseason.
December 2017: Rays trade 3B Evan Longoria to Giants
Longoria had five guaranteed seasons remaining on a contract extension when the Rays traded him to San Francisco for Denard Span and three prospects, not long before the Giants acquired McCutchen. That ended a highly productive tenure with Tampa Bay, which included a franchise-record 50 WAR. Longoria left as the franchise leader in most offensive categories, having helped turn a perennial last-place club into a contender that won 90-plus games five times and made the postseason four times from 2008-13. The Rays reached the World Series in '08, when Longoria took AL Rookie of the Year honors two years after being selected third overall in the Draft.
December 2017: Marlins trade OF Giancarlo Stanton to Yankees
New York landed the reigning NL MVP -- and most of his record-setting contract -- from Miami for Starlin Castro and two prospects. Stanton departed South Florida as the Marlins' record-holder in career WAR (35.1), home runs (267), RBIs (672), slugging percentage (.554) and many other categories. While Stanton's first season with the Yankees wasn't nearly as productive as his last with the Marlins (59 homers), he also reached the postseason for the first time in his career.
December 2009: Blue Jays trade SP Roy Halladay to Phillies
The late Halladay had produced 48.5 WAR for Toronto since his 1998 debut -- second in franchise history to Dave Stieb -- over a 12-year tenure that included six All-Star selections and an AL Cy Young Award, but no postseason appearances. After posting a 75-87 record in '09, the Blue Jays embarked upon a rebuilding project that included parting with Halladay for a package of prospects. The right-hander, who had one year left on his contract at the time, won the NL Cy Young Award in '10 with the Phillies.
February 2000: Mariners trade OF Ken Griffey Jr. to Reds
Griffey now wears a Seattle cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, but after the 1999 season, he requested a trade, following an 11-year run that included 398 home runs, an AL MVP Award, 10 Gold Glove Awards and a franchise-record 70.6 WAR. With one year left on his contact, Griffey was sent to Cincinnati. But a bad situation worked out for the Mariners, who got a solid young center fielder in the trade (Mike Cameron) and made the postseason the next two seasons, winning 116 games in '01. After an injury-plagued tenure with the Reds, Griffey returned to finish his career in Seattle from 2009-10.
In 2012, the Mariners traded away Ichiro Suzuki, another franchise icon who had spent his career with the club. But he was 38 years old at the time and no longer performing near a superstar level, so his trade to the Yankees (for pitchers Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell) did not have quite the same impact as the Griffey blockbuster.
December 1984: Expos trade C Gary Carter to Mets
Carter debuted with Montreal as a 20-year-old in 1974 -- the team's sixth season -- and by the end of '84, he had made seven NL All-Star teams and produced a franchise-record 55.5 WAR. But the '84 Expos finished in fifth place and subsequently swapped their elite backstop for four players, including shortstop Hubie Brooks. While the Expos never returned to the postseason before leaving Montreal after the 2004 season, Carter helped the Mets win the '86 World Series. He closed out his career back in Montreal in '92 and entered the Hall of Fame wearing an Expos cap in 2003.
This was not the first time another franchise's icon -- and future Hall of Famer -- had been traded to the Mets. On May 11, 1972, the Mets acquired a 41-year-old Willie Mays from the Giants for right-hander Charlie Williams. Mays was well past his prime by then, but he did help New York win the '73 NL pennant.
February 1979: Twins trade 1B Rod Carew to Angels
Carew made the AL All-Star team in each of his 12 seasons in Minnesota and won the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year Award, the '77 AL MVP Award and seven batting titles. But by '79, the Twins had finished third or lower in the AL West for eight straight seasons, and Carew was one year away from free agency. The Angels acquired the sweet-swinging lefty for a four-player package, and Carew finished his career in Anaheim, eclipsing 3,000 hits in 1985. The Hall of Famer's 63.7 WAR with the Twins still has him just ahead of Harmon Killebrew for first in franchise history.
June 1977: Mets trade SP Tom Seaver to Reds
Just before the Trade Deadline -- then scheduled for June 15 -- the last-place Mets shipped off their ace and future Hall of Famer in a highly controversial deal for a quartet of young players. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took his talents to the defending World Series-champion Big Red Machine and remained in Cincinnati until a one-year return to Queens in '84. More than 30 years after he last pitched, Seaver's 76.1 WAR with the Mets is still nearly double the total of any other pitcher in franchise history.
December 1973: Astros trade OF Jimmy Wynn to Dodgers
Wynn's debut in 1963 came one year after the franchise's inaugural season. Playing in a tough era for hitters and mostly in the cavernous Astrodome, "The Toy Cannon" had seven 20-homer seasons, six 5-WAR seasons and a 131 OPS+ in 11 years with the club. But after he slumped in '73, Houston swapped Wynn for another accomplished veteran, left-handed pitcher Claude Osteen. Though since passed by such luminaries as Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, Wynn's 41.4 WAR made him easily the most productive player of the Astros' first dozen seasons.
December 1971: Angels trade SS Jim Fregosi to Mets
It wasn't until Michael Trout that an Angels position player generated more WAR for the club than Fregosi's 45.9. Selected from the Red Sox in the 1960 Expansion Draft, Fregosi was still a teenager when he made his debut late in the '61 season, the Halos' first. He became a six-time All-Star, but he began to decline in '71, and the Angels made the fortuitous decision to ship Fregosi to the Mets for four players. One of them was a young Nolan Ryan, who immediately developed into an All-Star in Anaheim. Fregosi hung on as a player until '78, when he took over as the Angels' manager and led the franchise to its first postseason appearance in '79.
December 1965: Reds trade OF Frank Robinson to Orioles
Robinson spent his first 10 seasons in Cincinnati, winning an NL Rookie of the Year Award and an NL MVP Award, smashing 324 home runs and racking up 63.8 WAR -- easily a Reds record at the time. Evidently believing Robinson's best days were behind him, the Reds sent the slugger to Baltimore for three players, including two-time All-Star pitcher Milt Pappas. The Orioles got the better end of the deal, as Robinson added an AL MVP trophy to his collection in '66 and Baltimore went to the World Series four times in his six seasons, winning twice. Robinson now wears an Orioles cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
December 1926: Cardinals trade 2B Rogers Hornsby to Giants
In 13 seasons with St. Louis, Hornsby batted .359 with more than 2,100 hits, and he recorded the final out of Game 7 of the 1926 World Series by tagging out Babe Ruth on an ill-advised steal attempt. But Hornsby's contract talks with the Cardinals fell through, and the club dealt him to New York for pitcher Jimmy Ring and another star second baseman, Frankie Frisch. A future Hall of Famer, Frisch was an MVP winner in '31 and helped the Cardinals win two more World Series championships. Hornsby briefly returned to the Cardinals for part of the '33 season, and only Stan Musial has since exceeded his 91.4 WAR for the franchise.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.