Today in Blue Jay history.
July 19, 2000, 22 years ago, the Blue Jays traded Michael Young (and Darwin Cubillan) to the Texas Rangers for Esteban Loaiza. It turned out to be the worst trade in team history.
On that day, the Jays sat tied for 2nd place in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox, just 1.5 games back from the division-leading New York Yankees. We had a pretty good offense, Shannon Stewart leading off, Carlos Degado hitting clean-up, Tony Batista (who would hit 41 home runs that year) playing third base, Darren Fletcher, and Jose Cruz. Jr.
Our rotation needed help. Roy Halladay started the season number two behind David Wells in the rotation. He had 18 starts and 18 relief appearances the year before and had a 3.92 ERA in 149.1 innings. We thought he’d be a big part of the Jays rotation for 2000. At the time of the trade, Roy had a 10.90 ERA. It was amazing they could stay in the race with him in the rotation. As well, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar weren’t doing great. Escobar was sitting at 7-9 with a 4.90 ERA (he’d finish with a 5.35 ERA), and Carpenter was 7-9 with a 6.66 ERA. So we did need the pitching help.
Esteban Loaiza wasn’t a bad pitcher. He was just 28 but wasn’t doing great with Rangers, 5-6, a 5.37 ERA in 17 starts at the trade time. He pitched well for the Jays in the second half of 2000, going 5-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts. Unfortunately, we didn’t score much for him.
The team went from 51-45 on the day of the trade to finish at 83-79, not that bad, but we didn’t make the playoffs, finishing 3rd, 4.5 games back.
Loaiza played for the Jays for the next two seasons. In his 2.5 years as a Jay, he went 25 and 28 with a 4.96 ERA in 69 starts as a Blue Jay. Not bad, not superb. And the Jays didn’t do that well, finishing 3rd in 2001 at 80-82 and 3rd again in 2002 at 78-84. After the 2002 season, Esteban signed with the White Sox as a free agent. The Jays got no compensation.
Young, you know, turned out to get pretty good. 7 All-Star appearances. A .302/.348/.446 slash line over 13 seasons. He won a (laughable) Gold Glove. And he was voted, by his peers yet, as baseball’s most underrated player (also a pretty funny idea). But he was an excellent player.
It was a bad trade. But, in fairness to Gord Ash, as much as I’m sure he doesn’t feature this trade on his resume, back then, it was defensible. We had Alex Gonzalez (the first) at short. He was pretty good and only 27 at the time. Homer Bush was playing second, also 27, and Tony Batista was pounding out the home runs at third base. There was no apparent need for Young at the time. Young was a good prospect, but no one would have guessed he’d become the player that he has.
Gord made several bad trades. I’m not sure if this is the worst, but it must be in the top five. Or I guess bottom five. But then, we needed a starter, and no one could have figured that Young would have become the player he did.