Since this is trade week in major league baseball, it seems a good time to look at the best and worst of Mariner trades in history. Just like dessert the yummy stuff will be saved for last.
The Mariners have made more bad trades than good ones. They traded Omar Vizquel for Felix Fermin, Shin Soo-Choo for Ben Broussard and Adam Jones -among a few others- for sore armed Eric Bedard. Looking at those trades one senses a lack of patience for young players. Struggle early and you’re gone.
One trade that ranks as one of the worst took place in December of 1991 when Seattle traded three pitchers for Kevin Mitchell. Seattle wanted a power hitter. Mitchell hit 47 homers for the Giants in 1989, 35 in 1990 and 27 in 1991. His power was declining, but perhaps not for the homer friendly Kingdome. But trading three pitchers! That is something you don’t do.
Mitchell played 99 games for Seattle, hitting 9 home runs. Sent to San Francisco were Billy Swift, 39-19 and a 2.70 e.r.a. with the Giants; Mike Jackson, a relief pitcher was 15-14 and 2.99 e.r.a.; and Dave Burba 20-18 4.60. They would go on to pitch for other teams in long careers. That is why you do not trade good young pitchers for over the hill sluggers.
The worst trade, however, was July of 1997 when the Mariners wanted a closer and traded with Boston to get Heathcliff Slocumb. He saved a total of 13 games to go along with his 2-9 record and 4.97 e.r.a. What Boston got in return was Derek Lowe, who in eight years with Boston was 70-55 with 85 saves and Jason Varitek, their team captain and all-star catcher. Both are still contributing in the majors 14 years later while Slocumb is a footnote.
Thumbs down to Woody Woodward, the Mariners general manager who made those trades.
The best trade took place in May of 1989 when the Mariners shipped Mark Langston to Montreal for three young pitchers. Gene Harris did not pan out, Brian Holman pitched well before arm problems, but the third guy did okay. A guy named Randy Johnson.
That trade edges out the one made in July of 1988 when Seattle sent Ken Phelps to the Yankees for Jay Buhner.
Thumbs up to the Mariners general manager who made those trades. That would be the aforementioned Woody Woodward.
Woodward was the Mariners Charles Dickens. He gave us the best of times, and the worst of times; great expectations, but more losing than winning.