Thirteen years ago today (time flies), January 12, 2008, in the middle of what had been very slow January for Blue Jay news, the Jays traded Troy Glaus to the Cardinals for Scott Rolen. As Hugo said in his post on the trade, each team was trading off a player who wanted out.
Glaus was having foot troubles (plantar fasciitis), which, he felt, were made worse by playing on the carpet covered concrete at Rogers Centre. No one should be surprised that playing baseball on concrete might cause troubles? The new ‘carpet’ seems massively better than the old stuff. And this year, there is to be newer stuff (if they play in Rogers Centre. Troy had a lot of power. He hit 58 home runs in his two seasons with the Jays (even though he had only played 115 games in 2007).
Rolen had been having problems of his own. He had missed 196 games over the previous four years with the Cardinals. And he had a rocky relationship with manager Tony La Russa (similar to the troubles Colby Rasmus would have a few years later). Scott hit just .265/.331/.398, with 8 home runs, in 2008, the season before the trade.
Glaus had a pretty good 2008 season with the Cards, hitting .270/.372/.483 with 27 home runs and 99 RBI in 151 games, but he played only 14 games in 2009 due to several injuries. After that season, he signed with the Braves as a free agent and had a bit of a bounce-back year, hitting .240/.344/.400 with 16 homers in 128 games. That was the end of his career.
Rolen missed 47 games in 2008, starting the season on the DL. When he did play, he hit .262/.349/.431 with 11 homers and 50 RBI and played great defense. I don’t think anyone would argue too much if I said he was the best defensive third baseman we’ve ever had. Rolen also quickly became a fan favorite. He played 88 games for the Jays in 2009, hitting .320/.370/.476, before we traded him to the Reds for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zack Stewart.
At the time, the trade seemed like a pretty good one, especially considering that Rolen had wanted to get out of Toronto. It turned out to be an excellent trade for reasons we didn’t expect at the time. Roenicke didn’t turn out to be of any value. Stewart didn’t do much for us, but he turned into a significant piece of a complicated pair of trades that netted us, Colby Rasmus.
Edwin, who was considered a throw-in, intended to balance the salaries a bit, turned out to be the piece that won us the trade.
After the trade, Rolen played 330 games for the Reds, hitting .263/.332/.438, with 36 home runs, 182 RBI, and a bWAR of 7.6. He retired after the 2012 season.
Edwin played 999 games, for the Jays, with a .268/.355/.522 line, 310 home runs (number 3 in franchise history), 679 RBI (6th), and a WAR value of 24.4 bWAR (7th).
I think it is clear that the Jays had the better part of the Rolen/Glaus trade, not so much because Rolen was that much better for the Jays than Glaus was for the Cards, but because we could trade Rolen for a younger player. Without trading for Rolen, I doubt we would have made the deal for Edwin.
The Rolen/Glaus trade turned out to be one of JP’s better deals, and it set up an exchange that worked out even better.