Top 10 New York Yankees Trades in the George Steinbrenner Era
George Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees for $10 million in January 1973. Since that time, New York has won 11 AL pennants and seven World Series titles.
In addition, several trades have brought in players who directly had an impact on the Yankees' success.
I have compiled the top 10 Yankee trades of the George Steinbrenner Era. Some of the criteria used in ranking the trades include success of players traded to New York, number of championships won by players traded to New York, and lack of success for players traded from New York.
10. Dec. 7, 1973: Lou Piniella acquired from Kansas City
10. Dec. 7, 1973: Lou Piniella and Ken Wright traded from Kansas City to New York for Lindy McDaniel
When Lou Piniella was traded to New York in 1973, it began a 15-year association with the Yankees as a player, coach, manager, and general manager.
Piniella batted .289 in 11 seasons with the Yankees, including a career-high .330 in 1977. In addition, he batted .305 with 19 RBI in 44 postseason games.
Piniella was a fan favorite and was even serenaded with chants of “Louuuuu” when he returned to Yankee Stadium as manager of Seattle and Tampa Bay.
Ken Wright pitched in three games before he was traded to Philadelphia in May 1974.
Lindy McDaniel was near the end of his 21-year career when he was traded to Kansas City. Even though McDaniel was 12-6 with 10 saves for New York in 1973, he was only 6-5 with two saves with the Royals in the final two seasons of his career.
9. Nov. 7, 1997: Scott Brosius acquired from Oakland
9. Nov. 7, 1997: A player to be named later (Scott Brosius) traded from Oakland to New York for Kenny Rogers
Yankees fans were not expecting too much from Scott Brosius when he was acquired after the 1997 season. Not only had most people never heard of Brosius, but the third baseman also batted just .203 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI in 1997 with Oakland.
Brosius traded in his mediocre numbers and became an instant sensation once he put on the pinstripes.
Brosius was an All-Star in his first season, while New York had a record-setting year with 114 wins. He tallied career highs with a .300 batting average and 98 RBI to go along with 19 home runs. Brosius topped off his magical season by batting .390 in the postseason with four home runs and 15 RBI.
In the World Series, Brosius batted .471 with two home runs (both in Game Three) and six RBI to earn MVP honors. His biggest hit came in the eighth inning of Game Three, a game-winning three-run home run off Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. One night later, he threw across the diamond for the final out of the series.
Brosius totaled eight home runs and 30 RBI in 58 postseason games. One of his most memorable home runs was a two-out, two-run, game-tying blast in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game Five of the 2001 World Series against Arizona.
New York was happy to trade Kenny Rogers, who was only 18-15 in 61 starts over two seasons. He also had a 14.50 ERA in three starts in the 1996 postseason. Rogers improved to 16-8 in 1998, his only full season in Oakland, before being traded to the Mets in 1999.
It was not until 2004 that Rogers posted a career-high 18 wins with Texas. Two years later, he helped Detroit beat New York in the 2006 ALDS en route to the World Series. Rogers retired after the 2008 season with a career record of 219-156.
8. Dec. 11, 1975: Willie Randolph acquired from Pittsburgh
8. Dec. 11, 1975: Willie Randolph, Dock Ellis, and Ken Brett traded from Pittsburgh to New York for Doc Medich
Pittsburgh may have defeated New York in the 1960 World Series, but 15 years later, the Yankees were the winners in this one-sided trade.
Willie Randolph was essentially a throw-in in the trade. All he did was become a mainstay at second base for 13 seasons, earning five All-Star selections and a Silver Slugger Award as the top-hitting second baseman in 1980.
Like his teammate Chris Chambliss, he won six championships with the Yankees (two as a player, four as a coach in the late 1990s and 2000).
Dock Ellis, who was only 8-9 with Pittsburgh in 1975, won 17 games in 1976. He was also the winning pitcher in Game Three of the ALCS. He only appeared in three games in 1977 and was traded to Oakland in the deal that brought Mike Torrez to New York.
The Yankees were one of 10 teams Ken Brett pitched for in his 14-year career. He only pitched in two games for New York in 1976 before being traded to the White Sox.
Doc Medich, who was a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, won 49 games from 1972-75 in New York. The Aliquippa, Pa. native was only 8-11 in 1976, which turned out to be his only season in the Steel City. He played for five more teams before finishing with a 124-105 record in 1982.
7. Feb. 16, 2004: Alex Rodriguez acquired from Texas
7. Feb. 16, 2004: Alex Rodriguez traded from Texas to New York for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (Joaquin Arias)
Whether you like him or hate him, Alex Rodriguez has continued to post impressive numbers in pinstripes since his trade to New York prior to the 2004 season.
The AL MVP with Texas in 2003, Rodriguez batted .286 with 36 home runs and 106 RBI in his first season in the Bronx. In his six full seasons in New York, Rodriguez has batted .299 while averaging 40 home runs and 119 RBI. He has also won two AL MVP awards and been named to five All-Star teams, and he hit his 500th career home run with the Yankees.
But for the first six years in New York, Rodriguez was known more for his playoff failures than his regular-season success. From Game Five of the 2004 ALCS until the 2007 ALDS, Rodriguez only batted .138 with one home run and one RBI.
However, he redeemed himself in the 2009 postseason by batting .378 with six home runs and 18 RBI in helping lead New York to its first title since 2000.
Alfonso Soriano was third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 and a two-time All-Star in New York. In his two seasons with Texas, he was named to two more All-Star teams while driving in a career-high 104 RBI in 2005.
He was traded to Washington prior to the 2006 season and became the fourth 40-40 (46 HR, 41 SB) player in baseball history. However, he also struck out a career-high 160 times. Since 2007, he has batted .273 and averaged 27 home runs and 66 RBI for the Cubs.
Joaquin Arias is still with Texas but has only appeared in 46 games at second, shortstop, and third.
6. April 5, 1977: Bucky Dent acquired from the Chicago White Sox
6. April 5, 1977: Bucky Dent traded from the Chicago White Sox to New York for LaMarr Hoyt, Oscar Gamble, and Bob Polinsky
Bucky Dent finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1974 and was an All-Star in 1975 with the White Sox. While he was not traded for his home run power, his one blast in Boston will forever be remembered by Yankees fans and hated by Red Sox fans.
Dent became the Yankees' staring shortstop in 1977 and teamed with Willie Randolph to form a solid middle infield. But Dent’s biggest moment came in the 1978 one-game sudden death playoff game at Fenway Park.
With the Yankees trailing the Red Sox 2-0, he hit a three-run homer over the Green Monster to give the Yankees the lead en route to a 5-4 win. Dent also shined in the postseason, batting .417 (10-24) with seven RBI in the World Series to earn MVP honors.
He was later named to two All-Star teams with the Yankees in 1980 and 1981.
LaMarr Hoyt became one of the top pitchers in baseball, leading the AL with 19 wins in 1982. The following season, he led the league with 24 wins and won the AL Cy Young Award. However, in 1984, he led the league in losses (18) and finished his career in San Diego. He retired at the age of 31 with a career record of 98-68.
Gamble, who had one of the biggest Afros in baseball history, had the best season of his 17-year career with the White Sox in 1977. He batted .297 with 31 home runs and 83 RBI. He was later traded back to New York in August 1979, where he continued to play in the outfield until 1984. He finished his career with the White Sox in 1985.
Bob Polinsky remained in the minors and never pitched in the major leagues.
5. Dec. 11, 1975: Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa acquired from California
5. Dec. 11, 1975: Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa traded from California to New York for Bobby Bonds
In October 1974, New York traded beloved outfielder Bobby Murcer to San Francisco for Bobby Bonds. A year later, Bonds was involved in another trade that would bring two important components of the Yankees' championship teams of the 1970s.
Prior to arriving in New York, Rivers led the league in 1975 with 13 triples and was tops in the AL with 70 RBI. Mick the Quick was the ideal leadoff hitter in his four years in New York, batting .297 and averaging 23 doubles per season. He also hit .398 (22-for-57) in three ALCS meetings against Kansas City.
Rivers was an All-Star in 1976 and finished third in the AL MVP voting.
Even though Ed Figueroa was 0-4 in seven postseason starts, his pitching in the regular season helped get the Yankees to October baseball.
In 1976, he led New York with 19 wins. Two years later, he was 7-7 in mid-July but went 13-2 to finish the season at 20-9. He is still the only Puerto Rican pitcher to win 20 games in a season. Figueroa was 62-39 in his five Yankee seasons.
Bobby Bonds, who became the first Yankee 30-30 man (32 HR, 30 SB) and was an All-Star in 1975, played two seasons in California. His most productive season was in 1977, when he posted career highs with 37 home runs and 115 RBI. By the time he retired in 1981, the three-time All-Star totaled 332 home runs and 461 stolen bases.
4. Dec. 7, 1995: Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson acquired from Seattle
4. Dec. 7, 1995: Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, and Jim Mecir traded from Seattle to New York for Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis
Two months before this trade, Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson were instrumental in helping Seattle come from behind to beat New York in the 1995 ALDS. This trade helped the Yankees get to the ALDS and beyond in five of the next six seasons.
Martinez had the unenviable task of replacing Don Mattingly at first base. Some Yankee fans took their time warming up to Martinez, but by the time he left in 2001, he was a fan favorite.
In his seven seasons in the Bronx (including a 2005 return after leaving in 2001), Martinez batted .273 and averaged 27 home runs and 106 RBI. Martinez was an All-Star in 1997 when he finished second in the AL MVP voting after totaling 44 home runs and 141 RBI.
In the postseason, Martinez had a flair for the dramatic. In Game One of the 1998 World Series, his seventh-inning grand slam broke a 5-5 tie en route to the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Padres.
With the Yankees down to their last out in Game Four of the 2001 World Series, Martinez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth tied the game that the Yankees eventually won in 10 innings.
Jeff Nelson was a workhorse in the bullpen while helping set up for closers John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera. He pitched in over 70 games three times and compiled a record of 23-19 from 1996-2000 and a brief return to New York in 2003.
Jim Mecir appeared in 51 games in two seasons for the Yankees before being traded to the Red Sox in September 1997. He later enjoyed success in the Tampa Bay and Oakland bullpens.
Sterling Hitchcock was 13-9 with a 5.35 ERA in his only season in Seattle in 1996. After the season, he was traded to San Diego, where was named the NLCS MVP with a 2-0 record and a 0.90 ERA in two starts against Atlanta. He received a no-decision in his Game Three start against the Yankees in the World Series.
Hitchcock returned to the Yankees in a July 2001 trade and was 6-9 in three seasons in his second stint in pinstripes.
Russ Davis had three seasons of 20 or more home runs from 1997-1999 and hit the first home run at Safeco Field. He played his final two seasons with San Francisco from 2000-01.
3. April 26, 1974: Chris Chambliss and Dick Tidrow acquired from Cleveland
3. April 26, 1974: Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow, and Cecil Upshaw traded from Cleveland to New York for Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, and Tom Buskey
For the second time in three years, New York pulled off another trade with Cleveland that helped them win three AL pennants and two championships by the end of the decade. Graig Nettles had been traded from Cleveland in November 1972.
Chris Chambliss, the AL Rookie of the Year in 1971, drove in at least 90 runs from 1976-78. In the 1976 ALCS, he batted .524 (11-for-21) with two home runs and eight RBI and hit one of the most dramatic homers in Yankee history: a walk-off shot against the Royals' Mark Littell to give New York its first AL pennant since 1964.
He won six World Series titles as a Yankee (two as a player, four as a coach).
Dick Tidrow, who pitched in 211 games in six seasons with New York, was an effective setup reliever and starter. He posted an 11-4 record in the Yankees' 1977 championship season.
Cecil Upshaw was only 1-5 in 1974, his only season in New York. He was traded to the White Sox after the season.
Even though the Yankees traded four pitchers to the Indians, none of them lasted more than four seasons in Cleveland. Fred Beene was only 5-4 with a 5.93 ERA in his final two seasons from 1974-75.
Tom Buskey had four decent seasons as a middle reliever, posting a 12-13 record with 25 saves. He later pitched three seasons with Toronto.
Steve Kline, who won 16 games for New York in 1972, was only 3-8 with a 5.07 ERA in his only season in Cleveland in 1974. An arm injury forced him to miss the following two seasons before ending his career in Atlanta in 1977.
Fritz Peterson won 109 games, including a 20-win season in 1970, in nine years with the Yankees. In three seasons with the Indians, he was 23-25 with a 4.61 ERA.
2. Nov. 3, 1992: Paul O'Neill acquired from Cincinnati
2. Nov. 3, 1992: Paul O’Neill and Joe DeBarry traded from Cincinnati to New York for Roberto Kelly
After four straight losing seasons, Yankee fans hoped for a more promising campaign in 1993. This trade not only helped provide a winning season, but four more World Series titles as well.
O’Neill was a productive player in Cincinnati, but he never hit over .300 and never had a 100 RBI season. In his first season in pinstripes, he hit .311, the first of six consecutive .300 seasons. He also won the batting title with a .359 average in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
O’Neill had four straight 100-plus RBI seasons from 1997-2000. In his nine Yankee seasons, he batted .305 and averaged 21 home runs and 95 RBI. He was also named to four All-Star teams.
George Steinbrenner called O’Neill a “warrior,” and he was beloved by Yankee fans. In Game FIve of the 2001 World Series, his final game at Yankee Stadium, the entire stadium chanted his name while he was in right field in the ninth inning as a final sendoff.
Joe DeBarry played four seasons in the Yankees' minor league system.
Roberto Kelly was the lone Yankees All-Star representative in 1992. He was also an All-Star in Cincinnati in 1993, when he batted .319 with nine home runs and 35 RBI. Kelly was traded the following season to Atlanta and played for five more teams before returning to the Yankees as a free agent for the 2000 season.
1. July 28, 1995: David Cone acquired from Toronto
1. July 28, 1995: David Cone traded from Toronto to New York for Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis, and Mike Gordon
David Cone knew the pressures of pitching in New York when he was with the Mets from 1987-92. When he returned to the Big Apple in 1995, he was ready to help lead the Yankees back to the World Series.
After he was acquired in July 1995, he was 9-2 as the Yankees won the inaugural Wild Card. He missed most of the following season with an aneurysm in his arm but pitched seven no-hit innings in his first start in September.
Cone was a 20-game winner in 1998 and pitched a perfect game in 1999. Some of his best and most important pitching performances, however, were in the playoffs. In 12 postseason starts with the Yankees, he was 6-1.
With New York trailing 2-0 in the 1996 World Series, he limited Atlanta to one run over six innings for a Game Three win as the Yankees came back to win the series. Even though he struggled to a 4-14 record in 2000, he retired Mike Piazza with the Yankees leading 3-2 in the fifth inning of Game Four of the World Series. It was the only batter he faced in the series.
Marty Janzen was 6-7 in two seasons in Toronto. He eventually ended up back in the Yankees' minor league system after he was selected in the 1997 expansion draft by Arizona.
Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon never played in the majors.