Power Ranking the 10 Most Shocking Trades in Red Sox History
Last month’s colossal transaction with the LA Dodgers was certainly one of the biggest trades Boston’s ever agreed to. But where does it rank on the list of most shocking trades in franchise history?
The following 10 slides describe important moves by the Red Sox, ranked in order of shock and magnitude. Some helped the Sox in their quest to win a World Series, while others brought the franchise back a few years.
It remains to be seen what the Dodgers trade will do for the team, but hopefully it’s the former.
10. Sparky Lyle Traded to Yankees Before 1972 Season
During spring training in 1972, Boston traded relief ace Sparky Lyle to the Yankees for Danny Cater and Mario Guerrero. It turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in Red Sox history.
Cater would go on to hit .262/.301/.384 for the Sox over the next three seasons, and was out of town by 1975. Guerrero was even worse, turning in a line of .241/.278/.278 before also leaving after the 1974 season.
Meanwhile, Lyle became a fixture in the Yankees bullpen. In the six seasons after Boston traded him, he compiled a 2.23 ERA in 634 innings.
The Sox surely could have used him in the 1975 playoffs. Considering that the Cincinnati Reds won three World Series games against Boston in their final at bat, trading Lyle likely cost them the title that year.
All for a first basemen who had hit .276/.308/.364 the year before the Sox acquired him.
9. Sox Trade for Pedro Martinez After 1997 Season
This deal might go down as the best trade in Red Sox history.
Martinez was coming off a dominant season in Montreal, where he led the league with a 1.90 ERA, 13 complete games, and topped 300 strikeouts. He was three votes shy of a unanimous Cy Young win.
The Sox traded two minor league pitchers and top prospects, Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, for Pedro. Pavano was coming off of a year with the Sox AAA affiliate where he went 11-6 over 161 innings with a 3.12 ERA and 147 strikeouts. Armas went 10-4 with a 2.81 ERA over A and high A ball for the Red Sox and Yankees teams’ in 1997.
The Sox knew they were getting an ace, but no one could have expected the type of dominance from Martinez that’s only matched historically by Sandy Koufax. From 1999-2003, Pedro went 82-21 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 1205 Ks in 933 innings.
He made the Red Sox exciting again and brought the team back to contention, which made it possible for them to attract players like Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling. He was electric in striking out five hitters over two innings at the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway, and won Game 2 of the 2004 World Series.
It’s safe to say the Sox would make that trade again.
8. Manny Ramirez Traded for Jason Bay During 2008 Season
Manny had threatened to stop playing unless he was traded numerous times before he was finally dealt during the 2008 season. It still felt strange for Sox fans, though, who had enjoyed his major contributions to two World Series championships. He was a killer in the postseason, hitting 11 home runs in 43 postseason games for the Sox, including his famous three-run walk-off against the Angels in 2007.
Before the trade in 2008, Manny was hitting .299/.398/.529 for the Sox; he stepped that up to .396/.489/.743 in 59 games for the Dodgers.
Bay actually performed quite admirably for Boston, hitting .293/.370/.527 for the rest of 2008, and had 36 home runs and 119 RBIs for the Sox in 2009. They wisely chose to part ways with him after his contract was up following the season, and he’s hit .236/.321/.372 in three years since with the New York Mets.
7. Sox Purchase Jimmie Foxx from Athletics Before 1936 Season
After a disastrous 13-year run after selling Babe Ruth, Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox in 1933. He then completed a number of moves meant to make the team more competitive, and it worked: the Sox would not finish last for another 59 years, and had only five losing seasons from 1934 to 1958.
One of those transactions was the acquisition of A’s slugger Jimmie Foxx for $150,000 in 1936, as Philadelphia owner Connie Mack was hit hard by the Great Depression.
Foxx hit .320/.429/.605 in his seven years with Boston, which included a 1938 campaign when the first basemen hit 50 homeruns, had 175 RBIs, and led the league with a .349 average. His home run total was the Red Sox single season record until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006.
After amassing 500 home runs before the age of 33, Foxx hit only 34 more for his career. He was the youngest player to reach 500 home runs until 2007, when admitted PED user Alex Rodriguez eclipsed him. He was second all time next to Babe Ruth in home runs when he retired.
6. Curt Schilling Traded to Red Sox in 2003 Offseason
The Red Sox were a foolish manager away making the World Series in 2003. Boston fans may remember Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in for too long, or Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th against Tim Wakefield.
After the devastating loss, GM Theo Epstein wanted to make the team even better. So he famously flew out to Arizona to have Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling’s family and convinced him to accept a trade to the Red Sox.
The move paid big dividends for Boston, as they won the 2004 Series behind a heroic effort from Schilling, who won two games with a badly injured ankle.
During the regular season Schilling went 21-6 as he and Pedro Martinez provided a formidable 1-2 punch in the Sox rotation. Schilling also won another Series with the Sox in 2007.
As for the players given to the Diamondbacks, the Sox sent Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and Jorge De La Rosa. While each player was a solid prospect at the time, none were blue-chippers, and none have made an All-Star team.
5. Tris Speaker Traded to Indians After 1915 Season
Coming off a World Series win, the Red Sox traded Tris Speaker to the Indians for Sam Jones and Fred Thomas. After hitting “only” .322 the previous year, the Sox owner wanted him to take a pay cut, and Speaker disagreed.
Speaker is the greatest center fielder to ever play for the Sox. Over his career with Boston he hit .337/.414/.482. Remember, though, that this was the dead ball era: in 1912 he led the American League with 10 home runs.
He was also known for his great defense, and would often play shallow enough in CF to act as a fifth infielder. Over his career he turned six unassisted double plays by catching line drives and beating the runner to second base.
After being traded Speaker performed even better than he had with the Sox, hitting .354/.444/.520 for the Indians over 11 years. His .345 lifetime batting average ranks fifth all time, and his 792 career doubles are a major league record.
The reason this one doesn’t rank higher is that the Sox still won the 1916 and 1918 World Series without him.
Meanwhile, Sam Jones went 64-59 in six years with the Sox, where his 3.39 ERA over that time was only 2% better than league average. Thomas finished a three-year career with a .225 average.
4. Fred Lynn Traded to Angels After 1980 Season
After a short 15 game appearance in 1974, Fred Lynn came on to the scene with the Red Sox in 1975 and not only won the Rookie of the Year but also MVP. He hit .331/.401/.566 with 47 doubles, 21 home runs and 105 RBI, all while playing an electrifying center field.
Lynn was the main reason the Sox made the World Series that year, and he seemed destined to become a fixture in the Boston’s lineup for years to come.
But the Sox had financial difficulties over the next few years, and Lynn was always in danger of either being traded or let go. He eventually was dealt along with Steve Renko to the Angels for Frank Tanana, Jom Dorsey and Joe Rudi after the 1980 season. Carlton Fisk, another Sox staple, was let go as a free agent and signed with the Chicago White Sox that same offseason.
For one magical year, though, Lynn captured the hearts of Sox fans all across Red Sox Nation.
3. Recent Dodgers Blockbuster
Sure, it’s only been just over a week since this trade was completed, but no one saw this colossal transaction coming. It remains to be seen how the Sox will fare, but the deal has the chance to alter the franchise for years to come.
By now you know all the details, but what made it so shocking was the fact that only a year ago, the Sox were the 2011 World Series favorites. Then the September implosion happened, and Boston’s been one of the worst teams in the league ever since.
The salary exchanged in this deal was incredible; it was the first time two $100 million players had been in the same trade, and overall about $260 million exchanged hands. The fact that the Sox were able to acquire top prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa made the trade a favorable one in the eyes of many Sox fans.
2. Nomar Garciaparra Traded to Cubs During 2004 Season
During the late 90s and early 00s Nomar looked like a perennial all-star and a future Hall-of-Famer who might hit .400 one day. From 1997-2000, he batted .337/.386/.577 and averaged 44 doubles and 28 home runs a year.
Oh, how times have changed.
It started when Nomar injured his wrist late in the 2000 season, and he was never the same after. 90% of pre-injury Nomar was still a solid player, though once he was included in a proposed deal for Alex Rodriguez after the 2003 season, his relationship with Sox management suffered.
Nomar sulked for most of his 2004 season with the Sox, when he missed a number of games to injury. He famously sat on the bench while the rest of his teammates were on the dugout steps in a pivotal July game against the Yankees; you may remember it as the game when Derek Jeter made his infamous catch running into the stands.
His poor attitude combined with below average defense at shortstop caused the Red Sox to trade him, along with prospect Matt Murton, in a four team deal that netted them Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz.
The trade worked: the Sox were 56-46 before the deal, and 42-18 after. They went on to defeat the Yankees in a historic comeback from three games down in the ALCS, and swept the Cardinals to end their 86-year World Series drought.
Babe Ruth Sold to Yankees After 1919 Season
You knew it was coming: undoubtedly the worst trade in Red Sox history. It doesn’t matter that at the time the Sox thought they couldn’t afford Ruth or that his behavior was detrimental to the team; by giving him to the New York Yankees, the Sox traded away the best player in Major League Baseball history.
You’re surely familiar with the stats of Ruth, so let’s look at team success: After the trade, the Sox racked up nine last place finishes in the next 13 seasons, and lost 100 games five times during that span.
Meanwhile, the Yankees became “The Yankees,” winning four championships during that same time frame.
There was no “curse” of the Bambino—that was first popularized by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy—but it’s safe to say the Sox would have won at least one World Series title had they kept Ruth.