The Jays at the Deadline: Three Up and Three Down

Henderson was one of Toronto's best deadline deals

News Flash: The trade deadline is next week – Saturday to be exact.  Despite sitting around the .500 mark (and possible contenders in other divisions), due to the AL East the Jays will once again be sellers this season. 

The 2010 trade deadline will be the 34th deadline for the Toronto Blue Jays dating back to their debut season in 1977.  With all the talk this year about Bautista, Gregg, Overbay, and Downs among others, I was interested in looking at Toronto’s historical performance at the deadline.  For me, anything within a month of the deadline counts as a deadline deal, meaning any trade occuring in July.  A quick trip to gave me the information I was looking for.

By my count the Jays have made 34 deals in the month of July in their history.  Some years (’95, ’98, ’09) they have been sellers.  Some years (’89, ’90, ’93) they have been buyers.  Eleven times (including ’07 and ’08) they have not made a single trade in the month leading up to the deadline. 

Many of the deals have been small, and many involved minor leaguers that were never heard from again.  Examples include Tom Hutton to Montreal for cash in 1978, or Isabel Giron to San Diego for Juan Melo in 1999.  Some trades however, involved big name players: David Cone, Rickey Henderson, and Scott Rolen. 

The bottom line though, is that despite all the hype, despite all the rumours, and despite all the fanfare that always accompanies the trade deadline each year, Toronto has historically been nothing more than a bit player.  You can blame it on the division or blame it on the position in the standings, but the Jays very rarely make the big splash.  All of which makes this year so interesting as the Blue Jays are armed with serious chips to deal and can be huge players for the first time in a long time.

Anyways, here is 500 Level Fan’s take on Toronto’s three best and three worst trade deadline deals in history.

The Best

1993: Steve Karsay and a PTBNL to Oakland for Rickey Henderson

I might catch some flak for this one because Henderson didn’t do much for the Jays.  He only hit .215 in 44 regular season games, .120 in the ALCS, and .227 in the World Series.  But the last two words of that sentence are key: World Series.  Without Rickey do the Jays repeat?  I’m not sure.  With him they did – good trade.

1997: Paul Spoljaric and Mike Timlin to Seattle for Jose Cruz

Spoljaric never had an ERA below 4.75 again after leaving Toronto, and though Timlin pitched (literally) forever for many teams and won a few titles with Boston, Cruz was a huge boost for the Jays.  He hit 122 HR for the Jays in six seasons, including back-to-back huge years in 2000 and 2001.

2006: Vinnie Chulk and Shea Hillenbrand to San Francisco for Jeremy Accardo

GM’s rarely succeed with a gun to their head, but credit JP here.  Hillenbrand basically backed the Jays into a corner and Ricciardi was able to bring back Accardo.  While Hillenbrand was out of baseball after 2007 and Chulk was a middling reliever for a few years, Accardo dominated ’07 as closer with 30 saves.  Though he hasn’t done much lately, he is at least still in the Jays organization – more than you can say about who he was traded for.

The Worst

1995: David Cone to the Yankees for Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon, Marty Janzen

Cone was re-acquired by the Jays in 1995 from the Royals, but at the deadline it was clear that he would be going elsewhere.  Unfortunately the Jays got nowhere near full value for him in return.  While Cone went on to have six great years with the Yankees (64 – 40, 3.91 ERA, a 20-win season, two All-Star appearances, four World Series) only Janzen played any games with the Jays.  Brutal.

2000: Darwin Cubillan and Michael Young to Texas for Esteban Loiaza

This might be the worst Blue Jays trade of all time.  Loaiza stunk with Toronto (25 – 28, 4.96 ERA).  Michael Young has been to six All-Star games with Texas.  Toronto’s SS position has been a black hole for years.  Young would have looked awfully nice filling that spot.  To make matters worse, the year after Toronto dumped him, Loaiza went 21-9 with the White Sox, coming second in Cy Young voting.

2002: Raul Mondesi to the Yankees for Scott Wiggins

Mondesi had to go, there was no question about that.  He no longer fit with the Jays and was becoming more of a cancer than a benefit.  But still: this was a guy who had hit 24+ HR in seven consecutive seasons.  He had stolen 11+ bases for eight straight seasons.  He hit 15 HR in only 75 games with the Jays in the early part of 2002.  And all we could get in return was Scott Wiggins?  For the record, Wiggins made the Jays at the end of ’02, pitchimg a grand total of 2.2 IP.  Not a great return.

Hopefully Alex Anthopoulos does better than that…

One thought on “The Jays at the Deadline: Three Up and Three Down”

  1. Reading the Michael Young story actually made me tear up. Kudos on the Jose Cruz mention- he’s definitely one of my Top 10 favourite Jays of all time.

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