clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Trading Former #1 Overall Picks - A Baseball History Lesson

New, 28 comments

Following the D-Backs trading Dansby Swanson, BBB looks at former #1 Overall picks in MLB history and how long they fared with their original ball club.

Dansby Swanson, the first #1 Overall pick traded within the first year of their professional career.
Dansby Swanson, the first #1 Overall pick traded within the first year of their professional career.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday the Arizona Diamondbacks made a head scratcher of a trade sending outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitching prospect Aaron Blair, and first overall pick Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller.

Dansby Swanson, for those unaware, was the #1 Overall pick of the D-Backs in the 2015 First Year Player Draft. The trading of prospects is not new, as we Toronto Blue Jays fans have found out the hard way the last three or so years.

Still, to trade a #1 pick, especially so soon after their being drafted, is something that was once unheard of in Major League circles.

Prior to this season there had been a rule in place that prohibited teams from trading a player they've drafted for up to a year. This sometimes led to the "Player to be Named Later" thing coming up to allow teams to make a deal during or before the next season and put those drafted players in the deal for added value.

Now, teams are allowed to trade drafted players after the World Series of the same year the player was drafted. A rule Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart spared little time taking for a spin when, only (roughly) seven months following the draft, he traded Swanson. Consider this a test run for future teams interested in trading their top pick.

BBB user rob.magnificent asked an interesting question following the breaking news of the deal, one that I thought I would turn into an article. The question is simple:

What is the earliest a #1 Overall pick has been traded?

I went back through the history of the MLB draft and looked at all of the former #1 Overall picks in MLB history and how long their respective teams retained them. This is what I found.

I've highlighted anyone traded or moved within three years of being drafted (I think... could have missed one). Any player with only an ellipses beside their name has not been traded (though some players that this is true of I've told their story anyway, such as Brien Taylor or Matt Bush.)

1965: Rick Monday was drafted by the KC Royals, traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1971.
1966: Steve Chilcott was drafted by the NY Mets, not traded, but was released in 1971 and was out of baseball soon after.
1967: Ron Blomberg was drafted by the New York Yankees, left as a Free Agent in 1978.
1968: Tim Foli was drafted by the NY Mets, He was traded before the 1972 season to Montreal.
1969: Jeff Burroughs was drafted by the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers where he stayed until 1976.
1970: Mike Ivie was drafted by the San Diego Padres before being traded to the SF Giants in the 1978 off-season.
1971: Danny Goodwin was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, did not sign.
1972: Dave Roberts was drafted by the San Diego Padres and was sold to the Toronto Blue Jays following the 1976 season..
1973: David Clyde, drafted by the Texas Rangers, was traded to the Cleveland Indians following the 1978 season.
1974: Bill Almon was drafted by the San Diego Padres and was traded to the Montreal Expos before following the 1979 season.
1975: Danny Goodwin, again. Was drafted by the California Angels and stayed until after the 1978 season before moving on to Minnesota.

1976: Floyd Bannister spent just two seasons with the Houston Astros, the team that drafted him, before trading him to Seattle.
1977: Harold Baines was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, spending until the 1989 season where he was traded midway through to Texas.
1978: Bob Horner was drafted by the Atlanta Braves, left to play in Japan in 1987, before returning to the MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals.
1979: Al Chambers was drafted by the Seattle Mariners... Did nothing.
1980: Darryl Strawberry, drafted by the New York Mets, left after the 1990 season to go to the LA Dodgers.
1981: Mike Moore was taken at #1 by the Seattle Mariners and played there until after the 1988 season before moving to the Oakland A's.
1982: Shawon Dunston was selected first by the Chicago Cubs and elected to sign with the Giants after the 1995 season.
1983: Tim Belcher, the top pick of the Minnesota Twins, did not sign. He was selected the next season by the NY Yankees and was traded during the 1987 season to the LA Angels.
1984: Shawn Abner was drafted by the NY Mets and was traded after the 1986 season to the Padres.
1985: B.J Surhoff was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers before moving to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 1996 season.

1986: Jeff King was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Was traded in the 1996 off-season to KC.
1987: Ken Griffey Jr., the Seattle Mariners #1 pick, left via trade after the 1999 season, being send to the Cincinnati Reds.
1988: Andy Benes was drafted by the San Diego Padres before being traded (I believe) during the 1995 season to the Seattle Mariners.
1989: Ben McDonald was made the #1 Overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles where he stayed through the 1995 season before heading to the Brewers.
1990: Chipper Jones ....
1991: Brien Taylor was drafted by the Yankees and was basically a disaster before a series of injuries killed his career having, I believe, never played in the MLB.
1992: Phil Nevin was drafted by the Houston Astros before being a PtbNL in 1995 and was sent to Detroit.
1993: Alex Rodriguez was selected by the Seattle Mariners, left after the 2000 season as a Free Agent for ALL THE MONEY in Texas.
1994: Paul Wilson was selected as the #1 pick by the Mets before being traded in 2000 to the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
1995: Darin Estrad, the former Nebraska Cornhuskers punter, was selected by the California Angels or Los Angeles Anaheim..... uh... And left after the 2006 season signing with the White Sox.

1996: Kris Benson went to the Pirates as their #1 pick that year, and was traded near the 2004 deadline to the Mets.
1997: Matt Anderson, the Detroit Tigers top pick, reportedly injured his arm throwing an Octopus for free Red Wings tickets (disputed by him), lost a ton of velocity on his fastball, and left the Tigers after the 2003 season.
1998: Pat Burrell, drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, stayed there through the 2008 season before signing with the Rays out of Free Agency.
1999: Josh Hamilton was selected by the Rays with their top pick, got taken in the Rule 5 Draft following the 2006 season (by the Cubs who were selecting for the Reds).
2000: Adrian Gonzalez was drafted by the Florida Marlins before being traded to the Texas Rangers during the 2003 season.
2001: Joe Mauer ...
2002: Bryan Bullington was a Pittsburgh Pirates selection before being claimed off waivers during the 2008 season by the Cleveland Indians.
2003: Delmon Young was a TBDR selection before being traded after the 2007 season to Minnesota.
2004: Matt Bush, a black mark in the San Diego Padres organization, was drafted #1 only because Scott Boras was the agent of two players the Padres reportedly wanted more (Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver). He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2008 season but was released soon after. Was serving a prison sentence as of October 2015.
2005: Justin Upton was the top pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Seattle Mariners Atlanta Braves following the 2012 season.

2006: Luke Hochevar ...
2007: David Price was the prize of the draft for the TB Rays in 2007, and was traded during the 2014 season to the Detroit Tigers.
2008: Tim Beckham ...
2009: Stephen Strasburg ...
2010: Bryce Harper ...
2011: Gerrit Cole ...
2012: Carlos Correa ...
2013: Mark Appel ...
2014: Brady Aiken did not sign with the Astros.

(SOURCE: All information taken from Wikipedia)