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Today in Blue Jays history: Jays trade for Fred McGriff

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36 Years Ago

December 9, 1982 the Blue Jays made one of the best trades in team history.

We sent reliever Dale Murray and minor leaguer Tom Dodd to the Yankees for outfielder Dave Collins, starter Mike Morgan and Fred McGriff.

What we gave the Yankees:

Todd Dodd never made it to the Yankees. they released him in 1983 and he went to the White Sox then the Orioles. He played in 8 games with the Orioles, 16 at bats, the total of him major league career. He did have a long minor league career, that included a season here in Calgary. He had a lot of power, hitting 206 home runs in 11 seasons, and in 2008, he hit 37 home runs with a .289/.381/.583 slash line in Charlotte Double-AA.

Dale Murray had been a pretty good reliever. He pitched with the Expos from 1974 to 1976. in 1976 he pitched in 81 games, 113 innings, with a 3.26 ERA and 13 saves for a team that only won 55 games. He bounced around from team to team, but in 1982 he pitched in 56 games for the Jays with a 3.16 ERA and 11 saves. In 111 innings he only had 60 strikeouts.

For the Yankees, in 2 seasons plus 3 games he had a 4.73 ERA, in 62 games, 1 save. In 120 innings he allowed 147 hits, 7 home runs, 27 walks with 58 strikeouts. They released him in April of 1985. Baseball Reference has him at a 0.0 WAR in his time as a Yankees. If you add in Dodd, they got 0 WAR out of the trade.

What the Blue Jays received:

Dave Collins played two seasons with the Blue Jays. The first one wasn’t great, hitting .271/.343/.328 with 31 stolen bases, 7 times caught.

He had a great season in 1984, hitting .308/.366/.444 with 60 stolen bases, 14 caught, and a league leading 15 triples as part of a complicated platoon in the outfield. Collins, a switch-hitter would play left against RHP, pushing George Bell to right field and Jesse Barfield to the bench. Against lefties, Collins would sit, Bell would play left, Barfield right. As the season went on Barfield got more playing time.

We used a number of platoons back then. They platooned

  • Willie Aikens and Cliff Johnson at DH.
  • Ernie Whitt and Buck Martinez at catcher.
  • Rance Mulliniks and Garth Iorg at third base.

You could do a lot of fun things with your lineup when you didn’t have 8 or 9 guys in your bullpen.

In Collins’ two seasons as a Jay, Baseball Reference credits him with a 4.3 WAR.

Mike Morgan didn’t do much for us. He was 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 45 innings in 1983, then went on the DL and missed all of 1984. The Mariners took him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1984 season and he went on to have an up and down career. 0 WAR as a Jays.

Fred McGriff was great for us. In 4 seasons, plus 3 games, he hit .278/..389/.530 with 125 home runs, 305 RBI in 578 games. Baseball Reference has him at an 18.4 WAR.

So, the players the Yankees picked up from the trade gave them 0 WAR, while the guys we got gave us 22.7 WAR.

But, of course, that isn’t he whole story. The two players the Yankees got were released, they didn’t get anymore value from them.

The Jays lost in the Rule 5 draft, so they got $50,000 for him. In baseball terms, nothing. Dave Collins was traded to the A’s with Alfredo Griffin for closer Bill Caudill, who had one good season with us, 2.99 ERA and 14 saves in 1985 and one awful season, 2 saves and a 6.19 ERA before being released in April 1987..

I always forget Caudill was a trade, in my mind he was a free agent signing. The team really thought he was the final piece of the puzzle, back when they made the trade. In the three seasons before the trade, Caudill had 26, 26 and 36 saves and we didn’t have that great closer at the time, so we wanted to trade for the proven guy. We finally found what we wanted in Tom Henke.

Fred McGriff, on the other hand, along with Tony Fernandez, was traded to the San Diego Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, and we won two World Series after that. It’s pretty tough to put a WAR value on 2 World Series wins, but I feel pretty safe in saying that we won this trade big.

Fred would play 19 MLB seasons, hit .284/.377/.509 with 403 home runs. He’s on the Hall of Fame ballot for his 10th (and last) time. Last year he got 23.2% of the vote. I think he’s deserving of the Hall, but it isn’t going to happen.

26 Years Ago

Back in December 1992, the Jays traded Kelly Gruber to the Angels for Luis Sojo.

Gruber had been a star for the Jays. In 1990 he hit .274/.330/.512 with 31 home runs and 118 RBI. He had a three season peak (1988 to 1990) where he earned 14.4 bWAR. But his career went downhill quickly from there.

Over the next couple of seasons he would miss a lot of time with injuries. There were some whispers that he wasn’t really trying to work himself back into shape, and there were rumors he was off water skiing while on the DL. As it turned out he had a ‘degenerative disk injury’ in his neck. He would only play 18 games with the Angels before retiring.

Sojo didn’t do much more for the Jays. He appeared in 19 games, hitting .170/.231/.213. The Jays had this other guy playing second (Roberto Alomar) and we weren’t going sit him to get Sojo playing time. But Luis did get a World Series ring out of it. He left as a free agent after the season and would go on to have a pretty good 13 year career and he’d earn 4 more World Series rings with the Yankees.

Gruber had been a fan favorite in Toronto. It didn’t hurt his appeal that he was blond (with a mullet), blue-eyed and handsome.

21 Years Ago

Back in 1997, we signed free agent Tony Fernandez, bringing him back for a 3rd stint with the team. He’d play 2 seasons with us and then leave as a free agent, but we’d bring him back for a 4th run with the team in the middle of the 2001 season.

In this 2-season run, he would play 280 games, hit .324/.407/.454 with 15 home runs (not bad for a guy playing in his age 36 and 37 seasons). In 1998 he played mostly second base. 1999 he was our third baseman.