Blue Jays: In hindsight, the worst trades that weren’t made
Arguably J.P. Ricciardi’s biggest blunder
The Blue Jays were struggling in the early 2000’s, and they had a few MLB pieces that made sense to trade at the time. One of those was Jose Cruz Jr. who was scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2002 season. He hadn’t panned out the way the Blue Jays thought he might in Toronto, slashing .245/.317/.438 in that final season.
There was a deal on the table that almost happened, and I’m sure that Ricciardi still thinks about from time to time. The New York Mets were interested in bringing Cruz to their contending squad, and offered a package around a talented prospect by the name of David Wright.
Again, trading Cruz made sense at the time because of his pending free agency, and the fact that the Blue Jays were well out of contention at the trade deadline, finishing July 18.5 games back. Ricciardi inexplicably held on to Cruz and didn’t offer him arbitration that winter either though, losing him for nothing when the Blue Jays would have had an infield captain for the next decade or more.
Wright only went on to be a best players ever to play for the Mets, and will finish up his career later this month when he plays in their final game to wrap up his historic career after rehabbing injuries for the last three years. Still, he had some very productive campaigns, and the one they call “Mr. Met” would have locked pretty good in a Blue Jays’ uniform.
Ricciardi was quoted at the time saying, “I’m not trading a major league player for some guy in the Sally League.”, and I’m willing to bet he’s had a bit of a change in philosophy since then.
Oh, what could have been.