There might have never been a "Big Red Machine" had the Astros not been in a rush to jettison the then-27-year-old Morgan, who was coming off a season in which he led the NL with 11 triples, hit 13 homers and stole 40 bases.
Morgan went to Cincy along with P Jack Billingham, OF's Ed Armbrister and Cesar Geronimo, and INF Denis Menke in exhange for 1B Lee May, 2B Tommy Helms, and OF-2B Jimmy Stewart. May was envisioned as the much-needed power source for the Astros, while the slick-fielding Helms would provide better defensive stability over Morgan.
Needless to say, the trade changed the course of baseball history. Morgan helped the Reds to five NL West titles, three NL pennants and two World Series crowns and was named NL MVP in 1975-76, securing a path to the Hall of Fame in the process. Billingham, Armbrister, and Geronimo each played roles in Cincinnati's grip of the NL as well.
Helms hit a quiet .269 in four seasons with Houston, and while May hit 81 homers in an Astros uniform, his all-or-nothing approach at the plate wore thin after three years, leading to the club trading him to Baltimore in December of 1974.