Athletes Who Were Traded for Absurd Things

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

Athletes Who Were Traded for Absurd Things

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    One of the most difficult things about being a pro athlete has to be the fact that where one plays is almost totally dependent on another person's decision.

    Whether that means drafting, throwing money through free agency or acquiring somebody in a trade, it has to be tough not being able to get settled down.

    And, as bad as a trade feels, getting swapped for next to nothing has to be even worse—and these athletes are a few who experienced it.

Ricky Williams

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    JUDI BOTTONI/Associated Press

    This one might not be as weird as some of the other trades you'll see on this list, but it was still bizarre to see the New Orleans Saints give away the rights to their entire 1999 draft to select Ricky Williams at No. 5 overall.

    Sure, Ricky was a Heisman Trophy winner and left college as the all-time leading rusher in NCAA D-I history, but to squander every single pick to get him was a bit much.

    Sadly, it didn't work out for the Saints as they had hoped, with Williams playing just three seasons in the Big Easy before getting shipped off to the Miami Dolphins.

Lefty Grove

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    Associated Press

    In the Hall of Fame after winning exactly 300 career games in his 17 MLB seasons, Lefty Grove wasn't always seen as being the stud he eventually became.

    That's because, when he was 20 years old, the minor league team he had been playing for—the Martinsburg Mountaineers—traded him for a fence.

    Yes, you read that right.

    Following a storm destroying the outfield fence at the home field of the Mountaineers, the team figured it'd be best to trade away Grove than pay the $3,500 it would cost to fix the thing.

Cliff Dapper

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    Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

    Some of you may have heard of the guy that former L.A. Dodgers catcher Cliff Dapper was traded for back in 1948—Ernie Harwell.

    After all, Harwell is in Cooperstown.

    Problem is, Harwell's a Hall of Famer as a broadcaster, not a player, meaning that Dapper, the catcher, was swapped for a guy who sits up in the press box.

John Odom

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    Tia Owens-Powers/Associated Press

    I don't know what the price of wood has jumped up to, but apparently it is too expensive for a few teams to afford when it comes to baseball bats.

    Back in 2008, minor league pitcher John Odom was traded from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League to the Laredo Broncos of the United League after there were issues with Odom's immigration status.

    Rather than get a player in return, though, Calgary received a bag of 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black 34-inch C243 style—which were actually auctioned off for charity for $10,000.

    I feel like the cash would have just been better compensation in the first place.

Walter Restrepo

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    USA TODAY Sports

    What does a second-tier soccer team in the U.S. do when they can't find the perfect price on hotel accommodations?

    Naturally, they trade away one of their players.

    That's what the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League did when they shipped Walter Restrepo to the San Antonio Scorpions for hotel rooms and transportation to and from their games played there this season.

Dave Winfield

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    Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press

    Back in 1994, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was in his 21st major league season and sitting at 42 years old, so it was safe to say that, even though he had accomplished great things, his career was about to wrap up.

    Still, it's strange to see Winfield's name attached to one of the most bizarre trades in MLB history, when the Minnesota Twins sent him to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later.

    That's not the weird part, though.

    What makes this strange is that, due to the '94 MLB Strike, Winfield never played for the Indians that year, so the two teams had to settle the transaction somehow—which ended up being a $100 dinner with Cleveland executives picking up the tab.

Brad Mills

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    In the most recent strangest trade in sports, veteran pitcher Brad Mills found himself switching uniforms for something that we all take for granted a lot of times—a single buck!

    That's right, Mills—who has pitched in the majors for five seasons—went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Oakland A's just a week ago for the price of a hamburger on the value menu at fast-food restaurants.

    Whether he fails or succeeds, I think Oakland came out on top here at that price.

Fred Roberts

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    For a guy who ended up playing 13 seasons in the NBA, former big man Fred Roberts sure did get the shaft in a trade he was involved in between the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz.

    With the Celtics needing help down low, Utah tossed Roberts' name out there as an option.

    Boston did the deal, surrendering a third-round pick and, as then defending champions, agreeing to play Utah in two preseason games the following year.

    This also might be the weirdest way for any sports team to increase attendance.

Tim Fortugno

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    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    I mentioned the case of former minor league pitcher John Odom, who was traded for pristine baseball bats, but former pitcher Tim Fortugno looks like he was worth even less!

    That's because Fortugno was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers for 12 dozen baseballs—OK, and $25,000, but still.

    Being told you're worth a few dozen baseballs can't help a dude's confidence.

John McDonald

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Sports fans always love to debate which side gets the better end of trades. But what happens when a player gets traded for—himself!?!

    That's a tough one to figure out, yet L.A. Angels infielder John McDonald is one of only a handful of players in MLB history to know what it feels like.

    Acquired by the Detroit Tigers for future considerations from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005, Detroit ended up shipping Johnny Mac back to Toronto at the end of the season, making this one of the most bizarre swaps ever.

Babe Ruth

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    Associated Press

    Was the greatest hitter in the game traded for something super absurd?

    Not exactly.

    But Babe Ruth being sold for $100,000 by the Boston Red Sox to help finance the play, My Lady Friends, definitely constitutes as not only being an idiotic move, but also pretty sad—for BoSox fans.

    Of course, no one knew then that Ruth would go on to do the things that he accomplished, but the reasoning for getting rid of Babe is silly.

Mike Cisco

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    Of all these examples of bizarre trades, in each instance, both teams were at least given something—which is how a trade works.

    But when minor league pitcher Mike Cisco got traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the L.A. Angels last year, the Phillies simply asked for nothing in return.

    That's right, no cash, no player to be named later, not even a bag of baseballs or wooden bats.

    I'm not sure how something like this happens, but apparently the Phils thought the value of Cisco was nonexistent—poor dude.

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