Blue Jays Trade History Part 7: Rickey Henderson

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Jul 23, 2016; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson arrives at National Baseball Hall of Fame during the MLB baseball hall of fame parade of legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 23, 2016; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson arrives at National Baseball Hall of Fame during the MLB baseball hall of fame parade of legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rickey Henderson was one of the fastest athletes to ever play baseball. He stole bases with ease, and was the prototypical leadoff hitter of the 1980’s and 1990’s. He played for nine teams during his career, and won two World Series, one with the team associated most with him, the Oakland Athletics, and a team he only played half a season with, the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays needed a boost during the 1993 season. After winning the World Series in 1992, they were hoping to repeat the feat, something that’s become harder over the years.

To try and make their chances better, General Manager Pat Gillick went out and got good veteran talent. First, he got fan favourite Tony Fernandez. I covered that trade last week. He then got leadoff hitter extraordinaire Rickey Henderson from Oakland.

This is what the trade looks like:

July 31, 1993

To Toronto: Rickey Henderson, OF
To Oakland: Steve Karsay, RHP, Jose Herrera, OF

Karsay wasn’t anything special when the A’s got him in the trade. He pitched in eight games in the 1993 season, all with Oakland, and all starts. He pitched to a 4.04 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 16 walks. He had two great full seasons after being converted to a reliever, later on while with Cleveland. In 1999, he had a 2.97 ERA in 50 games, with 68 strikeouts. In 2001, he had a 2.35 ERA, splitting the season between Cleveland and Atlanta. While he became a good pitcher later in his career, he didn’t do much with Oakland after the trade.

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Herrera was an even worse player than Karsay, and only played two seasons in the MLB, both with Oakland, playing a grand total of 141 games. His first season, in 1995, he played in 33 games, hitting .243 with no home runs and just two RBIs in 70 at bats. In 1996, he played in 108 games, hitting a respectable .269 with six home runs and 30 RBIs.

The big name in this trade is Henderson. The Hall-Of-Famer is a legend in Oakland, and one of the best players in the franchise’s history. And for a brief moment, he was a Blue Jay. The Jays got him to help give a boost to the 1993 championship contenders, hoping he would end up pushing them over-the-top.

While they did win the World Series, Henderson wasn’t a huge cause of that. After a great first half that saw him hit .327, with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs, and 33 stolen bases, Henderson was a huge disappointment for Toronto. He severely tailed off, hitting .215 with four home runs, just 12 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. He didn’t do much better in the playoffs, hitting .227 in the World Series, getting just six hits in 22 at bats. He went back to Oakland for 1994.

The Jays are lucky that one, they won the World Series, and two, that Karsay and Herrera didn’t amount to much for Oakland. Henderson was a gigantic disappointment in Toronto, and didn’t contribute anything close to what the Jays thought he would. I call this trade a tie. Oakland didn’t get much in the trade, but neither did Toronto. The real winner here is Henderson, who got a World Series ring despite his production, while the A’s lost the Toronto in the ALDS.

Next: Blue Jays' Skipper not to blame for team's dreadful start

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