When I saw that Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick would be entering the Baseball Hall of Fame together it was pretty exciting to see two key members of the back-to-back World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays being recognized. Naturally the first thing that came to my mind was “the trade” Pat Gillick pulled off and how much that seemingly turned the Jays from a strong team to a championship calibre squad.
On December 5th, 1990 the Toronto Blue Jays sent 1B Fred McGriff and SS Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for 2B Roberto Alomar and 1B/LF Joe Carter. Gillick and the Blue Jays are often lauded for the deal and it is considered by many Blue Jays fans as a steal for Toronto, I wanted to take a different look at that trade today.
Although the Blue Jays obviously went on to become the first non-American franchise in baseball history to win not only one World Series title, but two in back-to-back variety (1992 & 1993), is that enough for you to consider the trade successful? Most GMs in sports consider any trade that nets a championship a success, no matter the cost – flags fly forever right?
Without the titles was the trade as big of a success as people make it out to be, I wanted to take a quick look at that today. Let’s start with what the Blue Jays received from both Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.
Carter, the hero of the 1993 World Series with his series-winning walk-off homerun against the Philadelphia Phillies and the “Wild thing” Mitch Williams will always be considered a Blue Jays legend. Carter played 7 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays and gave the team 203 HRs and produced a 9.8 WAR (Wins above replacement level player).
Alomar, the only Blue Jays player to ever be enshrined in Cooperstown is one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game (behind only Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby in my opinion) but played only 5 seasons for the Jays. Alomar had 832 hits, 206 steals, 451 runs and produced a 22.3 WAR during his short but productive reign.
The Blue Jays let both Carter and Alomar walk as free agents and received nothing in return for either of them so there are no assets to also take into account, which hurts the overall value of the trade when we look at what we gave up.
Tony Fernandez is one of the franchise’s great all-time players and though he returned to the Jays on a few different occasions I just wanted to add up his total value since leaving the Jays originally in the Alomar/Carter trade.
Fernandez went on to play 9 more MLB seasons with various teams and even returned to the Jays for two more years (1998 & 1999) and was still productive and as popular as ever. In the 9 seasons since the trade he amassed 1134 hits, 108 SBs, 547 runs and produced a solid 17.7 WAR. He wasn’t a superstar but played the game hard and will go down as a 1980s Blue Jays icon along with George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb (among others).
Fred McGriff had a surprisingly productive career and even jacked 30 HRs as early as 2002. McGriff went on to hit 368 HRs and produced an impressive 39.9 WAR. He finished his career with 493 HRs, 1550 RBIs and a .382 wOBA. He was easily the most productive player in the trade and a guy the Jays likely regretted dealing all things considered.
Again this is not to say the trade shouldn’t have been made and I am not implying it wasn’t a successful deal. Losing McGriff was the biggest loss but we did have a very successful 1B of our own pretty shortly after when Carlos Delgado took over and had some of the best offensive seasons in Jays history. You can never take those two championship banners from Toronto and that is the bottom line here but to say the trade was a total steal is wrong.
We got 5 productive seasons from Alomar, 7 from Joe Carter, and two rings but also gave up young stud first-basemen and one of the best Blue Jays middle infielders of all-time. Maybe I am just too big of a Tony Fernandez fan!