Blue Jays: Top 10 Playoff Push Trades
Solidifying the Designated Hitter Role
9. Cliff Johnson for Prospects Matt Williams, Jeff Mays and Greg Ferlenda
In late August 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays were pushing towards their first-ever postseason. One position the team lacked was a bona fide designated hitter on the team as Jeff Burroughs had seen the most time in that spot and he wasn’t producing to what a playoff team needed. The Blue Jays acquired Cliff Johnson from the Texas Rangers for three prospects who combined to play in six total major league games after the trade.
The club was familiar with Johnson as he had played the previous two seasons in Toronto before departing for Texas in free agency after the 1984 season. Johnson was having a productive season in Texas as he had 17 doubles, 12 home runs and was batting .257 over 82 games. When he came to Toronto he would platoon at DH with Al Oliver; who they had also just acquired in early July.
While the power numbers went drastically down after the trade as he hit just one extra-base hit (a home run), he still batting .274 over 24 games and it was the playoffs where he really produced. Johnson played in all seven games, starting in four of them in the ALCS series the team would ultimately lose.
Johnson and Oliver played the platoon role very well together, as Johnson would go 7 for 19 (.368) with two doubles and two RBI over the series. He would come back and play the 1986 season with the Blue Jays before retiring.