Trade Wars

By Lloyd Graff

Today is the last day of the Major League Baseball trading season.  I am a nutty baseball fan, Chicago Cubs variety, who follows such folly with a fanatic’s intensity.

Maybe it’s the machinery dealer in me, but I love the trading.  Every team is looking for that player who with change of scenery turns into a butterfly from a caterpillar.  Other times non-contending teams will trade a star at the end of his contract for a potential star at the beginning of his career.  The classic case of this was in 2016 when the Cubs traded their best young minor league player, Gleyber Torres, for the services of Aroldis Chapman, the hardest throwing relief pitcher in the game who was at the tail end of his contract.  Chapman, who could throw 105 mph, helped the Cubs win the World Series in 2016.  Gleyber Torres was an All-Star this year for the Yankees.  Chapman left the Cubs after 2016 and re-signed with the Yankees.

These “deadline deals” can be transformative for a team.  The Cubs made a great deal with the Texas Rangers in 2012 trading Ryan Dempster, a once great relief pitcher, and a decent catcher, Geovany Soto, for pitcher Kyle Hendricks, then a minor league pitcher out of Dartmouth who had a fastball that could not break the proverbial “pane of glass.”  In a little less than a year Hendricks had become one of the best pitchers in the game, and Dempster had retired.

As I was preparing to write this piece I had a heretical thought for a baseball fan.  Does the act of trading a player make him a kind of high-priced slave?  The player usually has no say on where he might be sent.  He has to uproot himself and maybe his family on a moment’s notice.  He immediately has to acquaint himself with an entirely new group of teammates, some of whom may be hostile because he threatens their position.

The NBA players are pushing back on the notion of easily trading players.  Star players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis can almost call their own landing places and influence whom they would like to play with.  In football the Le’Veon Bell holdout at Pittsburgh is a precedent for important players to command more leverage in their employment, though the NFL seems to be very hardline in resistance.

I don’t know exactly how things will play out, but the players are destined to get a say.

Question: What are the best or worst sports trades in history for you?



Share this post

11 thoughts on “Trade Wars

  1. Joe Braun

    Justin Verlander from my beloved Detroit Tigers to Houston Astros for Jake Perez and a couple of prospects. Or maybe Rick Porcello to the Red Sox in exchange for Yoenis Céspedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier. Pains me to think about….

  2. Greg Sweet

    As a Vikings fan the Herschel Walker trade with Dallas destroyed the Vikings for years and set Dallas up as a perennial contender. Worst trade ever.

  3. Todd Miller

    As an avid Tigers fan like Joe, best deal of the past 20 years was when the Bengals got Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin and a handful of guys who never made it. “Back in the day,” it was Tigers’ unloading of a washed-up Denny McLain and several others to the old Washington Senators for Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman, Aurelio Rodriguez — a solid starting pitcher and a left side of the infield for the better part of a decade. Worst trade of all time may have been when the Cubs sent Lou Brock to the Cards for Ernie Broglio, who unfortunately passed away a couple of weeks ago.

      1. Todd Miller

        That’s the alternate name for the Tigers because a bengal is a species of tiger. In the same vein, the White Sox are sometimes referred to as the Chisox or Pale Hose and the Pirates the Bucs, short for buccaneers, a synonym for pirates, and the Orioles are the Birds. Perhaps I’m dating myself.

  4. Noah Graff

    Two great trades made by the Cubs in recent years: Dempster and Soto for Hendricks (As mentioned in the article).

    Also Jake Arieta and Pedro Strop (not of this year) for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. And to think certain players kvetched about that!

    Worst non-signing: Cubs let go of Greg Maddux!?

  5. Lloyd Graff

    Best and worst trade in a long time, Christian Yelich to Milwaukee for three bats and a rosin bag. Will be MVP, probably, and may win triple crown, plus lead the league in stolen bases. Miami was cleaning house and the Brewers cleaned up.

  6. Robert Ducanis

    The Orlando Magic trade Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins for Pistons star Grant Hill. Grant Hill has a bum ankle and is signed to long-term $94 million contract. Hill only plays 47 games in his first 4 years at Orlando. Not Grant Hill’s fault that the injury kept him out of so many games, but incredulous that the Magic signed him knowing that he had an injury. He was on crutches when welcomed off the plane in Orlando. The length and cost of the contract set the Magic back for years. This turned out to be one of the worst, if not THEE WORST trade in NBA history. Ben Wallace leads the Pistons to an NBA championship.

      1. Robert Ducanis

        Only time will tell. The rupture of Durant’s Achilles tendon is probably one of the worst injuries for a basketball player. I’ve had a front row seat at a few NBA games and being at court level it is truly amazing to witness the speed at which these players push the ball up the court. The ability to start & stop on a dime is crucial to play the game both offensively and defensively. Hopefully Durant can make a full recovery. Possibly there are new medical advances that can improve the odds of a full recovery.

  7. Gary Lawton

    The Orioles only wish they could make a trade like this today…

    In 1966 Reds traded Frank Robinson to the Orioles for pitchers Pappas, Baldschun, & OF Dick Simpson.

    “Robby” would lead the O’s to four World Series in six seasons before being traded in 1972.
    (1) MVP, (2) top three in MVP balloting. Great HOF, solid Manager and all-around great ambassador to the game.


Comments are closed.