Blue Jays Today in History: Carter and Alomar Come to Canada
Though the history of the Toronto Blue Jays is shorter than many other franchises in baseball, there have been a few moments that stand out as being the most impactful and poignant in the franchise’s history.
Today in 1990, the Toronto Blue Jays made a legendarily massive trade that would drastically alter the course of their franchise trajectory for the remainder of the decade. On December 5th, 1990, the Blue Jays sent first baseman Fred McGriff and shortstop Tony Fernández to the San Diego Padres in exchange for second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter.
While this writer wasn’t alive at the time of the trade, the influence it brought can still be felt everytime someone mentions the year 1993. With that in mind, it is perhaps better to look at each one of the four pieces individually in order to truly understand the scope of the trade:
McGriff – A Dependable Force
Fred McGriff, 26 at the time of the trade, was an extremely effective first baseman for the Jays from 1987 until 1990. His 1990 season, arguably his best as a Blue Jay, saw him slash .300/.400/.530 with 35 home runs, 88 RBI and 21 doubles in 153 games. His 1989 season was equally fruitful; he slashed .269/.399/.525, smashing 36 homers while driving in 92 and winning a Silver Slugger Award.
He would continue to be a force to be reckoned with as a member of the Padres, finishing 10th in National League MVP voting in 1991 and sixth in 1992. In addition to his success with the Padres, he added All-Star seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves, finishing up his career with a total of 493 home runs and 1550 RBI.
Funnily enough, McGriff was the favourite player of Doris Gillick, Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick’s wife. When Doris heard the news that McGriff was being traded, she reportedly told her husband, who was on his way home from the winter meetings in Chicago: “Will you get home before you screw up the team any further?”
Fernández – Master of All
Tony Fernández, 28 at the time of the trade, was an exceptionally well-rounded player from 1985 to 1990. His best season, 1986, saw him slash an otherworldly .310/.338/.428. That season, he also added nine triples, 25 stolen bases and 10 home runs. In 1990, the year of the trade, he notched a league-leading 17(!) triples and hit .276 over 161 games. Overall, he slashed a cumulative .289/.338/.399 in parts of seven seasons (1028 games) in his first stint with the Blue Jays.
He would end up coming back to Toronto in mid-1993, hitting .306 in 94 games down the stretch and stealing 15 bases while scoring 45 runs. As of this writing, he is the Blue Jays’ franchise leader in triples, singles, WAR for position players, games played, hits and defensive WAR.
Alomar – A Blue Jays Patriot
There is not much to say about Roberto Alomar that hasn’t already been said. A true Toronto Blue Jays icon, Alomar, 22 at the time, slashed an impressive .287/.340/.381 in 1990 with the Padres, earning an All-Star nod and adding 27 doubles, five triples, and 24 stolen bases. It wasn’t until he crossed the border, though, that he truly became a legend.
More from Jays Journal
- Anthony Bass has been the shutdown reliever the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. open to a long-term contract
- Blue Jays: Snapping cold streaks at the right time
- Who Should the Blue Jays Extend First: Guerrero, Bichette or Manoah?
- Blue Jays now hold the top Wild Card spot, and yes that’s a good thing
In each of the next five seasons with the Jays, Alomar, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, hit over .295, had 15 or more stolen bases, was named an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and appeared in over 105 games. The staple of consistency, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and remains (for now at least) the only player to be enshrined wearing a Blue Jays cap. Words cannot accurately describe his influence on baseball in this city, and in this country
Carter – The Biggest Splash
Joe Carter, the subject of one of the most iconic at-bats in baseball history, was a good hitter for San Diego in 1990. Though he slashed .232/.290/.391, he led the National League in at-bats with 634 and hit 24 home runs, drove in 115 and stole an impressive 22 bases. In 1991 with the Jays, he brought his game to a new level, raising his average by over 50 points and improving his OPS (which at that time was an average of .776) to a solid .833.
Carter, a native of Oklahoma City, would also be named an American League All-Star in each of the next four seasons, topping the Blue Jays’ franchise leaderboard in sacrifice flies, and placing in the top five in franchise history in RBI. Oh, and he also hit a home run that, in the words of legendary Blue Jays radio broadcaster Tom Cheek, would never be surpassed in his life.
Although many hardcore Blue Jays fans weren’t alive at the time of this trade, it is still a blast to reflect on the numbers, figures, and moments that made this team what it is today. Though we, as fans, might be a little farther away from returning to the stories World Series as we might hope, we shall all dream of one day assembling a baseball team that is as legendary as the men who proudly donned the Blue Jay during the seasons of 1992 and 1993. Until then, we should, and most likely will, cherish the memories that these players have given us.