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Worst Trade Ever?
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 3/13/2008 6:50:00 PM
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The Mariners finally pulled the plug on Horacio Ramirez. The trade that brought Ramirez to Seattle for Rafael Soriano was described in the Seattle-area papers Thursday morning as "one that could only be considered a failure" and "a trade [GM Bill] Bavasi won't be putting at the top of his résumé" and one of "the worst trades in Seattle history." All true, yes, but far from encompassing the magnitude of the Ramirez-for-Soriano debacle.

The trade was not just one of the worst in Mariners history, but one of the worst in baseball history, perhaps the worst trade ever. Hyperbole, you say? Crazy, you say? Well, consider for a moment what this trade wasn't:

1. a win-now deadline deal (Astros trade for Randy Johnson)
2. a free-agent-to-be incentivized deal (Mark McGwire traded by A's)
3. a bad-in-hindsight deal (Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock)
4. a reasonable-idea-that-just-didn't-work-out deal (Freddy Garcia for three top prospects)
5. a firesale (take your pick)

The above scenarios allow one to at least justify a trade. There's no justifying trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez. Not now, not then, not ever. It was never even a reasonable idea. The only thing notable about Ramirez's career prior to the trade was that he had undergone both Tommy John and rotator cuff surgeries. His career K/BB was 248/200. He was never a top prospect, not in 2000, 2001 or 2002 before his 2003 rookie season. The only way you'd take on Ramirez after his 4.48-era, 37/31-K/BB 2006, would be on a low-risk/one-year deal just to roll the dice.

And we haven't even gotten into the high-upside merits of Rafael Soriano. When Ramirez's struggles last season became too much to ignore, the Mariners began peddling rumors that the front office forced the trade because Soriano was a bad seed. Even if true, that doesn't justify trading him for Horacio Ramirez, as I pointed out here.

Show me a worse trade that doesn't fall under the above scenarios.


I would probably say the Mets trading Lastings Milledge for Schneider and Ryan Church. I suppose reasonable people could argue that the Mets got enough but I dont buy it. His character issues are overblown and he possesses enormous ability. Theres no good reason for a team with big money like the Mets to trade a 22 year old with enormous ability for two 30 year olds who are barely adequate as starters.

I have no doubt that Milledge is gonna have a "breakout" year and Schneider and Church will disappoint.

Omar is great. The Mets are in good hands.
Posted by djm1144 at 3/13/2008 6:57:00 PM
Seattle traded Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe to the Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocum
Posted by ewoollacott at 3/13/2008 7:26:00 PM
From the people who brought you Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Different regime, but the same story.
Posted by Jaycees67 at 3/13/2008 7:34:00 PM
AJ Pierzynski for Liriano, Nathan and Boof... thank you Brian Sabean.

Posted by ray.penny at 3/13/2008 8:31:00 PM
The Ramirez trade was the worst because as Thornbury points out, you could know that without even waiting to see how it turned out. Even the Kazmir trade, which is a very close second, could have worked because Vic Zambrano, terrible as he was, was a very hard thrower and theoretically had some upside. But Ramirez had zero upside, so there was no conceivable reason to give up a prospect of Soriano's caliber. Now, Soriano may blow out his arm this year, and it won't end up costing the Mariners much. But in terms of the thinking behind it, it was the worst. Even if other trades like the Liriano/Nathan/Bonser one panned out worse.
Posted by cliss at 3/13/2008 8:42:00 PM
These pale to the trade John Schuerholz (yes, that John Schuerholz) made for the Royals. David Cone for Ed Hearn. Hearn played about a month after the trade. I believe the year was 1986. David Cone still had a couple of good games left after 86. Ramirez's contribution to the Mariners may be comparable to Hearn's to KC, but Soriano is no David Cone.
Posted by thepearl-673 at 3/13/2008 8:46:00 PM
I think last year's Matt Morris for Rajai Davis ranks up there. It's not sexy, but it's just GM 101. Why when you are a rebuilding club like Pittsburgh would you trade any guy with upside for an over-the-hill veteran making $9 million [highest paid player in Pittsburgy history]? It just has no basis whatsoever.
Posted by schoenke at 3/13/2008 8:57:00 PM
I don't even think it's the worst Bavasi trade ever. Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago, so that they could make room to sign Rich Aurillia was worse.

That said, this one was a real stinker too.
Posted by Erickson at 3/13/2008 9:13:00 PM
FOX trading Mike Piazza out from under Fred Claire's (yeah that guy that dealt Pedro for Delino DeShields, though to be fair, that wasn't an awful deal at the time) nose to Florida. Marlins then turning around and dealing Piazza for Preston Wilson and assorted riff-raff.
Posted by vtadave at 3/13/2008 9:36:00 PM
Dave posted the Asdrubal Cabrera trade in our writer's forum as well. I suppose that was a "win-now" deal, though, and so far it hasn't reached the heights of the Soriano trade, but there's a lot of time left for that one. I guess the real takeaway, as always, is that Bavasi has made a lot of bad moves.
Posted by Erickson at 3/13/2008 9:38:00 PM
In honor of my Orioles, I give you-

Glenn DL Davis for Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, Pete Harnish
Posted by bwitt at 3/13/2008 9:41:00 PM
Babe Ruth for cash?
Posted by rceisner at 3/13/2008 9:50:00 PM
The Pirates trading Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez, and Matt Bruback was pretty bad. On the flip, getting Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon worked out well. What irks me about the Matt Morris trade is that the Pirates went out of the way to target Morris and offered to pay his full freight when the Giants surely would have chipped in some coin.
Posted by jtopper at 3/13/2008 10:02:00 PM
George W. Bush trading Sammy Sosa for a couple of 8-balls???

Bavasi is an idiot.....Soriano/Ramirez deal is bad but not the worse he has done if in fact he did that C.Guillen deal....hrrrrrrr! ! !....Soriano's bad health problems keep dismantling his big upside every year....
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 3/14/2008 2:11:00 AM
What hack did the Mets get when they gave up Scott Kazmir? His name is escaping me, probably because he never did anything in the majors again. Bet they want a do-over on that one.
Posted by MPStopa at 3/14/2008 7:39:00 AM
The Kazmir trade was unjustifiable when it happened. They traded away a 22 year old phenom for Victor Zambrano- A player who wouldnt allow them to win the world series that season; a player who was 29; a player who was a converted pitcher; a pitcher with poor control; a pitcher with a poor mound demeanor; a pitcher without a real solid track record; a pitcher who had zero experience playing in a big market. Wow that was some bad trade.

The Milledge trade doesnt look as bad now, but I have a strong feeling that it will end up much worse.

But Hey, Ya Gotta Believe!

Posted by djm1144 at 3/14/2008 8:52:00 AM
I like Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields but I admit it isn't at the same level as some of these others.

Posted by jarnold at 3/14/2008 9:32:00 AM
Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps.

Posted by at 3/14/2008 10:04:00 AM
Varitek, Piazza, Cabrera, Schilling, Ramirez, Sosa were win-now deadline deals. Buhner-Phelps, Pierzynski, Pedro-DeSheilds I'd call a hindsight deals (not horrible deals at the time). I should have added a sixth category for character issues. Milledge and Guillen were both justified because the players were perceived troublemakers. The Kazmir trade was described at the time by our thorough Mets beat writer as: "While Kazmir is believed to be a rising star, Zambrano is considered a potential gem that could help anchor the Mets' rotation for years." Thus, I'd put it under No. 4 (reasonable, but didn't work out that way). Babe Ruth wasn't a trade.

The David Cone trade was very, very bad. The only thing I can say for that one is it was a multi-player trade. Perhaps that muddied the waters? The Soriano-Ramirez trade was straight up, pitcher vs. pitcher.

As for the Morris trade, well, the Pirates got him cheaply (other than the money involved). Still, there was no reason to make this trade. Just a hideous idea. GM 101, indeed.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 3/14/2008 10:58:00 AM
Jason- I agree with most of what you say except Milledge. The trade wasnt justified. Milledge isnt a trouble maker, hes just a 22 year old who lacks the maturity of a veteran player. He was a fan favorite for his ability, energy and swagger. The team lacks all three of those traits. The Mets are absolutely clueless and when its all said and done, this trade will be worse than Kazmir for Zambrano.
Posted by djm1144 at 3/14/2008 11:12:00 AM
The Soriano trade definately wasn't the worst. Soriano had the "bad seed" rap, but also injury problems in the past-Tommy John surgery, should issues and took a Vlad line drive to the head. Seattle also had plenty of bullpen help, so while this was a bad trade, not the worst. What's really mystifying is why the heck did Seattle sign Ramirez 2 months ago? Looking at the other trade (Schoenke kind of hit on this) money is always involved. Most of these posts act as if these were trades straight up with no money/contracts were involved, which obviously there was.
Posted by kevinccp at 3/14/2008 11:35:00 AM
Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. :)
Posted by roulette at 3/14/2008 1:08:00 PM
Djm, I'm not excusing the Milledge trade, but it was that perceived immaturity you speak of that led to his trade. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't, but that's what got him traded. I don't see an underlying reason like that for the Soriano trade.

Kevin, there was never a hint of Soriano being a bad seed before the trade, and there isn't a hint of anything like with the Braves. The Mariners post-trade attempts to paint him as a troublemaker was classic CYA. Yes, Soriano had TJ surgery. But so had Ramirez. Not only that, but Ramirez had rotator cuff surgery. And yes, Soriano took a comebacker to the head, but so had Ramirez that same year (2006). Seattle didn't have plenty of bullpen help, either. The M's had to promote a 22-year-old who had all of three innings pitched outside of rookie ball to take over for Soriano as the RH-setup man because they had few other options.

Look, I am not saying the Soriano deal was undoubtedly the worst baseball trade ever. I'm saying it's in the ballpark. And so far, I've only seen two others that are in that ballpark (Cone, Morris). I'm sure there are more out there, some I've never heard of, but that it is so hard to think of equally bad trades as this speaks to the absolute putridity of the trade.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 3/14/2008 1:11:00 PM
Doyle was a deadline deal, and actually it was a good short-term deal for the Tigers. They don't make the playoffs in 1987 without him. Shortsighted perhaps, considering Smoltz, but not hard to fathom why the Tigers would pull the trigger on that.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 3/14/2008 1:16:00 PM
Jason, Here is a quote from the Seattle Times after the trade:
"Soriano, who turns 27 next week, went 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 53 appearances last season. But his arm was somewhat redundant in a Mariners bullpen loaded with hard throwers, making him one of the team's key trade components." I'm just offering some argument from Seattle. I know everyone is high on Soriano but he hasn't had a full season as the closer, I think he'll do well but you never know.
Posted by kevinccp at 3/14/2008 1:25:00 PM
Not to get into a tit-for-tat, but that story, which incidently ran in the Seattle Times but was an AP story, is incorrect. The RH relievers (not counting closer Putz) when the trade was made: Emiliano Fruto, 93-95 fastball (traded a week after Soriano); Sean Green, low-90s; Jon Huber, low-90s, Julio Mateo, low-90s, Mark Lowe, injured; Jorge Campillo, injured. The Mariners had a handful of middle relievers, but none even close to the upside of Soriano. His arm certainly wasn't "redundant." Which is why the team signed Chris Reitsma and promoted Brandon Morrow to be the RH setup guys last season.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 3/14/2008 2:29:00 PM
Gary Sheffield for Odalis Perez, Brian Jordan and minor-league pitcher Andy Brown probably isn't in the same class, but it was mocked by almost everyone and turned out exactly as people thought.
Posted by schoenke at 3/16/2008 6:46:00 PM

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