What were the most notable baseball trades to happen on this day?

With the luxury of hindsight, it’s fun to look back and see what transactions worked out or didn’t, or maybe even changed baseball history.

Looking at transactions on this date over at B-R, I spotted three notable ones to talk about.

1977 – The New York Yankees traded Bob Polinsky (minors), Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt and $200,000 to the Chicago White Sox for Bucky Dent.

This trade set to stage for future success for both teams. Bucky Dent was a young shortstop entering his 5th season at age 25. To this point in his career, he had accumulated just 2.0 WAR, including -2.2 dWAR of which -1.2 dWAR had been tallied the previous season. So, not an obvious choice as a starting SS for the defending AL champions. The Yankees, though, were still seaching for their next shortstop to succeed Gene Michael, having tried out Jim Mason and Fred Stanley the previous 3 seasons. Whether by shrewdness or luck, things worked out well for New York  – from 1977 to 1981 Dent delivered 12.1 WAR including a nifty 7.3 dWAR, backstopping the Yankees to 3 pennants and 2 world championships. Oh, and you may recall that he also hit a rather important home run on the last day of the 1978 season.

For the White Sox, Hoyt was still two years away from his major league debut, starting out as a swing man, then a middle reliever/closer, and finally, starting in 1982, as a fixture in the White Sox rotation. Hoyt won 19 in 1982 and then 24 in 1983 as he won the Cy Young award, leading the ChiSox to the AL West title and their first post-season appearance in 24 years. Hoyt’s career 1.91 BB/9 ranks among the top 20 career marks (min. 1000 IP) since 1969.

1972 – The Montreal Expos traded Rusty Staub to the New York Mets for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton.

This trade served both teams well in the sense that all the players involved were regulars on their new teams for at least the next 3 seasons. However, Staub, after delivering 18.1 WAR in his 3 seasons in Montreal, disappointed in New York with only 6.5 WAR (including -4.0 dWAR in right field) in his 4 years with the Mets. 

Foli would be a dependable shortstop for the Expos, finishing in the top 4 in range factor among NL shortstops for each of his 6 seasons in Montreal, including 1st or 2nd for 3 straight years. Jorgensen was also a capable defensive player, earning the 1973 NL gold gove for 1st basemen, and providing a 156 OPS+ season in 1974. In his 5 seasons in Montreal,  Jorgensen’s OBP was at least 95 points higher than his BA every year, including 4 seasons with a spread of over 100 points. Singleton had 3 solid years for the Expos, highlighted by his 148 OPS+, 5.8 WAR season in 1973 that kept the Expos in the pennant race (or turtle derby, perhaps) until the final weekend of the season. Unfortunately for Montreal, they would make an awful trade after the 1974 season, gifting the Orioles with Singleton and Mike Torrez, in exchange for  Bill Kirkpatrick, Rich Coggins and a spent Dave McNally.

Ironically, the Expos helped out the Mets to secure the NL East title in 1973. Going into the final weekend, 5 of the 6 teams were still in the hunt. The defending NL East champion Pirates were just 1.5 games back, but dropped out of the chase after losing 2 of 3 to the Expos at home. The Mets were rained out at Wrigley on Friday and Saturday, then split a double-header on Sunday, eliminating the Expos and Cubs, but leaving the Cardinals just a game back. The season was extended for the Mets and Cubs to conclude their 4-game set, but just one more contest was needed as Tom Seaver beat Burt Hooton to clinch the division flag. 

1957 – The New York Yankees traded a player to be named later, Rip Coleman, Milt Graff, Billy Hunter, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan and Irv Noren to the Kansas City Athletics for players to be named later, Wayne Belardi, Art Ditmar, Jack McMahan and Bobby Shantz. The New York Yankees sent Jack Urban (April 5, 1957) to the Kansas City Athletics to complete the trade. The Kansas City Athletics sent Curt Roberts (April 4, 1957) and Clete Boyer (June 4, 1957) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

I mention this trade only as an example of the Kansas City-New York shuttle that went on between these clubs pretty much the whole time the As were in Missouri. The key players in this trade were Clete Boyer and Bobby Shantz and, unsurprisingly, both were headed to New York. Boyer would become the Yankees everyday 3rd baseman for 7 seasons, including 5 pennants and 2 world championships. Shantz’s best years were behind him, but he delivered a solid 1957 season as a dependable 4th starter and swingman, leading the league in ERA. Later, Shantz would be a capable middle reliever and closer, compiling a 132 ERA+ in his 4 seasons in New York, as the Bombers won 3 pennants and 1 WS title. Shantz also won the gold glove for pitchers in 1957, an award he would go on to win for 8 straight seasons through to the end of his career.

As an indication of the extent of the trading between the As and Yankees, I counted no fewer than 74 players involved in transactions between these two clubs from 1953 to 1966. Of these, 11 players were traded in both directions in separate transactions. Among those eleven were Art Ditmar and Jack Urban in this deal, Ditmar returning to the As in 1961 and Urban going back to the Yankees in 1959.

Anyway, let me know what you think of this kind of piece. If you like, I’ll try to do some more of these.


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