Listen Up, This Is a Robbery: Baseball's 12 Most Lopsided Trades of the 1990s

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Listen Up, This Is a Robbery: Baseball's 12 Most Lopsided Trades of the 1990s
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

My first article listed the 12 most lopsided trades in the 21st century. The Bartolo Colon trade was ranked number one.

Here is the link to the article, if interested.

This article will rank the 12 most lopsided trades of the 1990s. I will discuss the purpose for the trades and the aftermath.

 

12. Florida Marlins trade Moises Alou to the Houston Astros for Manuel Barrios, Oscar Henriquez, and Mark Johnson (Nov. '97)

After winning the World Series in 1997, the Marlins dramatically reduced payroll by trading away the team's leaders, including Moises Alou.

As a member of the Astros, Alou finished in the MVP Top 20 ballot three out of the four years. He probably would have done it in the fourth year if it weren’t for a season-ending injury that occurred on a treadmill.

The Astros featured a scary lineup with Alou on the roster, which included Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Derek Bell. With this offense, the Astros appeared in the playoffs three out of Alou's four years.

As for the counterparts in the trade, Barrios pitched in two games, Henriquez in 14 games, and Mark Johnson didn't get one at-bat as members of the Marlins. The Florida Marlins did not have a winning season until 2003, when they won the World Series again. Of course, history repeated itself, and the Marlins once again traded their team leaders to reduce their payroll.

 

11. New York Yankees trade Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Todd Noel, Mark Johnson, and Ed Yarnall (Feb. '99)

The Marlins were able to redeem themselves by obtaining Mike Lowell. Lowell would become the team clubhouse leader as well as a three time All-Star during his seven years in Miami.

The Yankees made the trade to add depth to their pitching staff. Unfortunately for them, Ed Yarnall only pitched in 20 innings in '99 and '00. But that didn't stop the Yankees from winning the World Series in those two years.

 

10, Montreal Expos trade Pedro Martinez to the Boston Red Sox for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. (Nov. '97)

Similar to the Florida Marlins, the Expos didn't generate enough revenue to keep their top players once they reached their free agent years. Therefore, the Expos were basically forced into trading these players to the team who presented the best offer.

That's exactly what happened to the 1997 Cy Young winner. The Red Sox won the Pedro derby by offering two major league-ready pitchers in Pavano and Armas. Pavano won 24 games over his four-and-a-half seasons, and Armas won 48 games over eight seasons.

The future Hall of Famer continued his success with the Red Sox by winning two more Cy Young awards and finished second in two other seasons.

 

9. Tampa Bay Devil Rays trade Bobby Abreu to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker (Nov. '97)

Just hours after drafting Abreu from the Houston Astros in the Expansion Draft, the Devil Rays decided to trade him for the shortstop Stocker.

During Stocker's two years with the Rays, he was able to muscle out nine home runs and steal a combined 15 bases. Stocker would be out of baseball after 2000.

Bobby Abreu became the Phillies' best player during his time in the "Brotherly" city. He was selected to two All-Star games, hit 195 home runs, and batted over .300 six times.

 

8. Detroit Tigers trade Luis Gonzalez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Karim Garcia (Dec. '98)

Between 1990-1998, Gonzalez was a slightly below average player and was not putting up the kind of batting numbers expected of a corner outfielder. By 1998, Gonzalez was labeled a journeyman who was on the brink of becoming a platoon player.

Then out of the blue (wink, wink), Gonzalez became a star. He made his first All-Star game in his first year with the D-Backs, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 111 runs.
After hitting 31 home runs in 2000, Gonzo belted 57 HR in 2001 and was a major contributor to the team winning the World Series in the same year.

Karim Garcia hit 14 HR and drove in 32 runs during his lengthy 104 games with the Tigers.

 

7. Los Angeles Dodgers trade Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields (Nov. '93)

Unlike the Expos, who were basically forced into trading Martinez, the Dodgers were willing to trade one of the best pitchers in the past 30 years. After receiving low production from second baseman Jody Reed in 1993, coupled with their depth in young pitching, it seemed a great fit for the Dodgers to make this trade.

They knew they were giving up on a young talent—after all, Pedro was 10-5 that year—but they were receiving a former first round pick who brought tremendous speed and would fit in nicely at the top of the lineup.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, DeShields only batted .250, .256, and .224 during his three years in LA.

Pedro Martinez went on to win 55 games over four years with Montreal. He also was the 1997 Cy Young winner.

 

6. Houston Astros trade Kenny Lofton to the Cleveland Indians for Willie Blair and Ed Taubensee (Dec. '91)

Wanting to move Craig Biggio to another position and with no replacement on the roster, the Astros decided to trade the speedy Lofton to the Indians for catcher Taubensee.

When the trade happened, it seemed the Astros had initially won as they also received a young pitcher in the deal. Besides, Lofton was a similar player to others on the roster like Eric Yelding, Gerald Young, and Steve Finley—guys with a lot of speed and no pop.

Biggio did move to second base in '92. Taubensee's unproductive career with the Astros only lasted a little more than two years before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for two unknown players.

Kenny Lofton was a major contributor to the Indians' success after the strike. Lofton became the best leadoff hitter during this time and played in five All-Star games as an Indian. He also won five consecutive stolen base crowns from 1992-1996.

 

 

5. Seattle Mariners trade Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb (July '97)

During the '97 season, the Mariners were desperate to replace Norm Charlton (7.27 ERA) as closer to remain in first place in the AL West. Due to having a productive catcher in Dan Wilson, the Mariners decided that the former first round pick Jason Varitek was expendable. For good leverage, they decided to include a young pitcher named Derek Lowe as well.

Lowe became a closer to replace Slocumb and went on to save 42 games in 2000. He was then converted to a starter and found success by winning 21, 17, and 14 games as a member of the rotation.

The current captain, Varitek, has hit 165 HR while playing in his 13 seasons as a member of the Red Sox.

As for the Mariners, they did win the division but only received three saves in 1998 from Slocumb. He left for Baltimore after the season.

 

4. Boston Red Sox trade Jamie Moyer to the Seattle Mariners for Darren Bragg (July '96)

A year before the Slocumb trade, the Mariners were able to rob the Red Sox by receiving Moyer, who was on the brink of becoming a star pitcher at the tender age of 33.

In his first 11 years, Moyer only had double-digit wins in three seasons and was playing for his fifth team prior to the trade. So it surprised everyone when Moyer won 17 games for the Mariners in '97 and then continued his success by winning a range of 13 to 21 games the next six seasons.

Darren Bragg lasted two seasons with the BoSox and hit nine and eight HR, respectively.

 

3. Curt Schilling trades

a) Baltimore Orioles trade Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch to the Houston Astros for Glenn Davis (Jan. '91)

 b) Houston Astros trade Curt Schilling to Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Grimsley (Apr. '92)


I've decided to take the cheat route and lump together both lopsided trades that Shilling was a part of.

Needing to replace the offense that they lost when Eddie Murray left, the Orioles traded for Glenn Davis to play 1B/DH. Davis suffered a neck injury and never fulfilled the power he showed in the '80s. Davis only hit 24 home runs over three seasons for the Orioles. In 1993, he even lost a bar fight and had his jaw broken. The Orioles released him in 1993.

Finley played in four seasons and was a feature at the top of the lineup. He was traded to the Padres in a 12-man blockbuster trade in Dec. '94, which included both Ken Caminiti and Derek Bell. Harnisch won a total of 45 games over four seasons. He was traded to the Mets for two unknown players.

As for Curt Schilling, he would only pitch for one season (3-5, 3.81 ERA) before being involved in another lopsided trade.

Prior to the '92, the Phillies struck gold when they traded the future "Benedict Arnold" Jason Grimsley for the flamethrower.

Schilling won 96 games and appeared in the World Series in '93 as a member of the Phillies.

Grimsley did not pitch for the Astros in 1992 and was released before the '93 season.

 

2. Oakland A's trade Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for T.J. Matthews, Eric Ludwick, and Blake Stein (July '97)

With McGwire in the last year of his contract, the A's decided to trade him and get whatever they could before he walked.

The A's received three pitchers who did not amount to much for them. They combined for 30 wins with the team.

Mark McGwire went on to continue to put up arcade-like numbers, which would put a player in the Hall of Fame if he was not perceived to be a steroid user.

 

1. Boston Red Sox trade Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for Larry Andersen (Aug. '90)

Just prior to the waiver wire trade deadline, the Red Sox strengthened their bullpen by acquiring Andersen.

The Red Sox went on to win the division but lost to the Oakland A's in the playoffs. Andersen gave up two ER in the three innings pitched.

While Andersen played only one season for the Sox, appearing in 15 games and recording one save, Bagwell became a legend in Houston, hitting 449 home runs with over 1,500 RBI and a .297 average over 15 seasons. Bagwell would go on to win the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year award, as well as also being honored with the NL MVP in 1994.

This trade goes down as being one of the worst ever.

With Bagwell on the roster, the Astros went to six playoffs but unfortunately did not win the World Series.

Bagwell should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee with the career totals mentioned above.

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