The long and extensive history dating back to before the Padres’ first season.
Prior to the 1969 season, MLB expanded by an additional four teams, raising the amount of teams from just eight to twelve (in each league). It took a long time for the MLB to expand, but once it started, they sure kept the ball rolling. In just 30 years, they expanded to 30 teams. One of those teams, the San Diego Padres, has a rich trading history with the Cardinals. In fact, the Cardinals first trade with the Padres predates the 1969 season. I thought I’d try something new today, and look over the Cardinals history one with one specific franchise.
The Cardinals first trade with the Padres was due to a bit of a blunder. In the expansion draft the prior fall, the Cardinals allowed their recently acquired starting pitcher, coming off a 4.2 bWAR season, to be unprotected and the Padres selected him with their first overall pick and the 3rd in the draft. They traded a 22-year-old pitching prospect, a career minor league catcher, a weak hitting backup outfielder, and a fringe MLB 3B/OF type to get back Dave Guisti.
The thing is that Guisti was not a 4 WAR pitcher. His 1968 was completely out of nowhere. And everyone knew it, because that is not a strong return and because when they got him back, he ended up losing the 5th starting spot and starting the year in the bullpen. They ended up trading him at the end of the 1969 season where he became a 100 inning reliever type that doesn’t really exist anymore. (PROVE ME WRONG ALEX REYES)
The funny thing is the Cardinals second trade was for another player the Padres drafted in the expansion draft. The Cardinals traded two young players, a catcher and 2B, both of whom were under 25. Both debuted in 1969 and then proceeded to not really play in the majors after that. The player the Cards got back, Jerry DeVanon, was young himself, at 23 and was a middle infield type. He went on to be a weak hitting bench player who Cards didn’t keep for long. Turns out unprotected players are unprotected for a reason.
Right before the 1970 season, the Cards traded a 24-year-old middle infielder for a 25-year-old left-handed bullpen option. Billy McCool – awesome name – played his last MLB season in 1970, but Steve Huntz, the middle infielder, had a 1.5 bWAR season in 106 games and then his career stopped shortly after that.
In the middle of 1972, they traded a replacement level reliever and a replacement 1B for a 24-year-old shortstop who never played an inning in the majors after the trade. In June of 1973, the Cards traded a below replacement middle infielder for a below replacement middle infielder. In November of 1974, the Cards traded two below replacement starters and a 27-year-old reliever for a 32-year-old shortstop coming off a 2.2 bWAR year and a 32-year-old minor league catcher. Ed Brinkman, the SS, barely played for the Cards, not even lasting the year with the Cards.
After the 1975 season, the Cardinals traded a 35-year-old Willie Davis, coming off a 1.5 bWAR season, for a soon-to-be 26-year-old Dick Sharon, coming off two replacement seasons. Davis had a 1.8 bWAR season and then went missing for three years while Sharon never played again. In April of 1976, the Cardinals traded a 20-year-old out of A ball and 29-year-old reliever for a 1.7 bWAR reliever. The 1.7 bWAR reliever, Danny Frisella, had 0.0 bWAR for the Cards and had 1.1 bWAR the year after, but died at 30-years-old in a dune buggy accident. Also in 1976, they traded replacement level outfielder Luis Melendez for replacement level pitcher Bill Grief. Both played as you’d expect.
In May of 1977, the Cardinals made an interesting trade. They traded two guys they recently traded for themselves for Butch Metzger, a former Rookie of the Year winner (in what was surely a weak year). He had a 1 bWAR year in the bullpen and the Mets selected him off waivers the next year. He had half a season before his MLB career ended at 26. Of the two guys they traded, one of them was a 3B who never actually played for the Cardinals, Pat Scanion, and whose MLB career also ended after 1977. The other, John D’Acquisto, had a -1.4 bWAR season, then 2.5 bWAR, and then -1.8 bWAR.
In 1989, the Cardinals traded an under 25 pitcher for an under 25 outfielder. The outfielder, Randy Byers, never played an inning for the Cardinals, and while the pitcher, Jeremy Hernandez, did actually play for the Padres, he ended up with 0.6 bWAR for them in what amounted to a full season in the bullpen spread over 3 seasons.
In early 1990, the Cardinals traded Alex Cole, a 24-year-old centerfielder, and Steve Peters, a 27-year-old who hadn’t pitched since 1988 (and was very bad that year). Peters never pitched in the majors after the trade, but Cole was traded before he played an inning for the Padres. Cole, however, did manage to get 9th in rookie of the year voting that year despite not playing until July. Good job Padres. They got Omar Olivares in return, who was a halfway decent back of the rotation starter for a couple years before being terrible and being selected off waivers by the Rockies.
At the 2000 trading deadline, the Cards made an extremely boring trade. They traded Heathcliff Slocumb, a career reliever at the end of his career, plus a 19-year-old Ben Johnson, for a 33-year-old backup catcher in Carlos Hernandez and a 27-year-old infielder who never made the majors. Johnson ended up making the majors five years later, but never really did anything.
Right before the 2004 season, the Cardinals traded Kerry Robinson for Brian Hunter. Hunter was a 33-year-old outfielder, now a bench player and at the end of his career. Robinson was a previously excellent bench player who now was coming off a -0.9 bWAR season. Hunter was released exactly two months later, without ever playing an inning for the Cards. Robinson at least lasted the whole season with the Padres, but only received 101 plate appearances.
In the middle of 1971, the Cardinals traded for Al Santorini, a 23-year-old with over 300 career innings already, but by 25, his career was done. They traded away 28-year-old pitcher Fred Norman who was without much history of success. But then he went and was worth 16.8 bWAR after the trade as a starting pitcher, including 5.7 bWAR with the Padres in 2 and half seasons.
As far as swindled trades go, the following is probably the preferable option to get swindled. But after the one-year rental of Cesar Izturis to replace David Eckstein at shortstop, they tried another rental of sorts in Khalil Greene. Greene was coming off a bad season and was a good bounceback candidate. The Cardinals traded two relievers for him. One of them was an afterthought, a 25-year-old, who last pitched in AA. And he wasn’t exactly mind-blowing there.
But well Luke Gregerson ended up being pretty good for the Padres. And to be honest, he wasn’t quite as good as I remember him being. He was worth 5.7 fWAR and 4.1 bWAR in five seasons for the Padres. Which is really good for a reliever, but like I said, as far as getting swindled in a trade, this is not a terrible outcome.
In May of 1978, the Cardinals traded for a slumping George Hendrick. He was coming off a 5.8 bWAR season, and the Padres traded him after a poor first 36 games. They did not trade much. In return for Hendrick, they gave the Padres Eric Rasmussen, a 26-year-old starting pitcher coming off a 2.6 bWAR season. He was not very good the rest of 1978, and then had a 2.3 bWAR season. After a replacement season in 1980, the Padres released him, and he actually ended up returning to the Cards, and he wasn’t very good for the Cards either.
Hendrick, on the other hand, may not have returned to the 5.8 bWAR player, but he was a consistently good player for a long time for the Cards. Over the next seven years, Hendrick was on average, a 2.6 bWAR player. He made two All-Star teams, received MVP votes in four of those years, and won two Silver Sluggers. The Cardinals finally traded him after the 1984 season… for John Tudor. Thank you Eric Rasmussen. You may not have been great, but you sure helped lead to a lot of great years.
In late 1980, the Cardinals traded six players for what amounted to Rollie Fingers and two other guys. Fingers four days later got paired with Ted Simmons and future Cy Young winner Pete Vuckovich for honestly not much. It was not a good trade. But of the four players they got, two of them ended up being in a package for Jack Clark, one of them was a minor part of a trade for Ozzie Smith, and the other was in a three-team trade for Lonnie Smith. So, really crazy how everyone in that trade both didn’t do anything but also ended up being part of a return for a Cardinals legend.
Speaking of, that Ozzie Smith trade was also with the Padres. We all know the story, and John LaRue even wrote it about it here recently. If you want more detail on that trade, I highly recommend that article. But the Padres traded someone who they considered their problem and the Cardinals did as well. It just so turns out that Garry Templeton ended up getting worse once leaving the Cards and Ozzie Smith… did not. Sixto Lezcano was part of the Rollie Fingers/Ted Simmons trade and was combined with Templeton. Obviously, Templeton was the main piece of the deal though.
In 1997, the Cardinals had a notable trade that was mainly notable for involving Fernando Valenzuela. You may primarily remember him from the 1980s and nobody but Cards fans remembers him from the 90s. Though he was coming off a 2.8 bWAR season, it was his best season since 1987 and he didn’t even pitch 100 innings for the Cards in the next two seasons. The Cards didn’t give up anything for him though. They traded career pinch hitter Mark Sweeney, another player whose career was at the tail end in Danny Jackson, and a 30-year-old bullpen scrub for him, the last year of Phil Plantier’s career, and career bench player Scott Livingstone.
In 2001, the Cardinals traded Ray Lankford for Woody Williams. Here’s another trade that was written about more in a previous article on this site, this time by me. But Lankford had an underwater contract and Woody Williams was coming off a down year. Lankford never recovered for the Padres, but Williams pitched four straight seasons for the Cards of above average pitching. Well in 2004, he was only a 1.8 bWAR pitcher, but he did make 31 starts, so I’d hardly call that a failure either.
In December of 2002, the Cardinals made one of those subtraction by addition trades. They traded Luther Hackman, who was not really any good, for Brett Tomko, who was coming off a 1.7 bWAR season. The Cardinals got the better end of the deal….. sort of. Tomko led the league in both hits allowed and earned runs. He did throw over 200 innings… but was worth -0.6 bWAR. On the other hand, Luther Hackman was worth -1.2 bWAR for the Padres. Tomko got paid a lot more to be bad so technically the Cards probably lost this trade. But really, everyone lost this trade, including the fans.
After the 2007 season, the Cardinals traded Jim Edmonds for David Freese. I’m just going to let that speak for itself.
At the trading deadline of the 2010 season, the Cards made a memorable trade… by not getting the best player in the deal. They didn’t trade him either though. It was a three-team deal that involved Corey Kluber trading hands with two teams that weren’t the Cards. The Cards did, however, get perfectly cromulent Jake Westbrook for the last 3.5 seasons of his career. They also got Nick Greenwood. The Cards traded away Ryan Ludwick.
The Cards next traded with the Padres five years later. They traded Jon Jay, coming off a horrendous season, for what appeared to be an underwater contract in the form of Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko’s first three years were wRC+ of 110, 77, and 93. For the Cardinals, they were 112, 113, 111 (and then we’ll ignore his last year here). Truly one of those trades that doesn’t get enough love for how great it is.
It’s funny that the Cardinals traded with the Padres yearly essentially until the Cardinals got Ozzie Smith. And then no trades for eight years. Probably a coincidence, but I don’t really blame the Padres for this one. The Cardinals need to trade more with the Padres. They’ve received George Hendrick, Ozzie Smith, Woody Williams, David Freese and Jedd Gyorko. And for all that cumulative talent, they really did not give away much at all. If Luke Gregerson is the price to pay for those trades, it is a really small price to pay.