As MLB approaches the July 31st trade deadline, let’s have a look back at one of the worst summer swaps the Blue Jays ever made.
Major League Baseball has evolved an awful lot over the last few decades, and one of the biggest differences is in how front offices value players, and especially their own.
If you look back at the 1990’s or 2000’s, the trade deadline usually brought about a whole bunch of activity as teams looked for the missing piece to help them with their playoff push. That still happens today of course, but GMs are more reluctant to part with their minor league assets than ever before, and with the two Wild Card spots in the big leagues, it gives more teams the feeling that they’re still in contention much later in the season than it used to.
As a result, we don’t see quite the same aggressiveness from GMs as we have in the past, and in some cases that’s a good thing. If the Blue Jays ultimately decide to trade guys like Marcus Stroman or Ken Giles then they’ll hope to see that aggression from rival teams, and hopefully they’ll end up on the right side of trade history when all is said and done. It hasn’t always been that way.
The Blue Jays have made a lot of good trades over the years, but there is one in particular from the 1995 trade deadline that still bugs me, even 25 years later.
It was clear that the Blue Jays were not going to recapture their World Series glory from ’92 and ’93, which is why Pat Gillick decided that some retooling needed to happen with his roster. For that reason you can’t blame him for trading away one of his best starting pitchers in David Cone, but it was a real shame that the Jays got virtually nothing back in return.
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The swap consisted of Cone going to New York in exchange for three minor leaguers, Marty Janzen, Mike Gordon, and Jason Jarvis. If your response is, “Who?”, then know that you’re not alone.
Janzen ended up being the best of the trio, which isn’t saying much. He ended up making his way to the big leagues and made 27 appearances during his short career, including 11 starts for the Blue Jays. Things didn’t go well, however, as he finished his career with a 6.93 ERA over parts of two seasons from 1996-97, and was never seen at the highest level again after that. Gordon and Jarvis never made it past Double-A.
Cone went on to have several more productive seasons with the Yankees and also made brief stops with the Red Sox and the Mets before calling it career. He also finished in the top six of Cy Young voting three more times, and was named to the All-Star team twice. It’s pretty safe to say that the Yankees won this trade in a landslide.
Some of you may disagree that this is the worst deadline deal in franchise history, as the Jays also infamously traded away Michael Young as a prospect to the Rangers for Esteban Loaiza in 2000. While that deal ended up being a disaster because of the great career Young went on to have, I view the Cone deal as slightly worse because Loaiza at least contributed something to the Blue Jays during his time in Toronto. He wasn’t great and the team never made the playoff appearance they were shooting for, but the right-hander managed 69 starts during his Blue Jays’ tenure, although he also had a 4.96 ERA.
This topic is a good reminder about why the idea of trading Marcus Stroman could end up backfiring on the Blue Jays some day. Sure, it’s possible that they could score big and bring in multiple prospects that could be a part of the next championship contender, but it’s not guaranteed. The list of hyped prospects who have flamed out in Toronto over the years is fairly long, which is why there are some folks who are adamently against trading the team’s best pitcher. Looking at the downside of the franchise’s trade history, you can’t blame them.