Trade Retrospective: Mark Langston

Next up on the trade retrospective is the trade of Mark Langston on May 25, 1989. He was traded to the Montreal Expos with P Mike Campbell for pitchers Gene Harris, Brian Holman, and Randy Johnson.

The Background

On May 25th, the Expos were in 4th place in the NL East division, but only 3 games back in that race. It was still early in the season, and there was a possibility that a trade for an impact player could still make a difference in the race. The team had a solid if not amazing offense, and some solid pitching as well.

The Mariners were in 5th place in their division, and despite having a .500 record were already 7.5 games back in the race. Langston had established himself as a top flight starter in the American League, striking out at least 235 batters in each of the last 3 seasons. However, Langston was going to be eligible for free agency at the end of the 1989 season.

The Moving Pieces

Langston slotted into the Expos rotation, and gave the Expos another horse behind starters Dennis Martinez, Bryn Smith, and Pascual Perez.

Campbell was sent to the minors, where he spent the remainder of the season with the Expos’ AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.

Harris, Holman, and Johnson all were slotted into the starting rotation for the Mariners, with Johnson and Holman spending the rest of the season there, and Harris spending part of the season in the bullpen.

What Happened Next

Langston pitched extremely well, posting a 12-9 record with a 2.39 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 176 2/3 IP. Unfortunately, the Expos faded down the stretch, and finished 81-81, good for 4th in their division.

Gene Harris made 10 appearances with the Mariners in 1989, posting a lackluster 6.48 ERA and 1.860 WHIP.

Brian Holman pitched pretty well, going 8-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 22 starts. His control was a bit of an issue, striking out 82 but walking 62. He was still young though, and due for some growth.

Randy Johnson also made 22 starts, posting a 7-9 record with a 4.40 ERA. He also showed some control issues, striking out 104 and walking 70 in 131 innings.

The Net Moves

Expos – First Level

  • Langston filed for free agency after the 1989 season, and signed with the California Angels.
  • The Expos received two draft picks as compensation for losing Langston. They used these to draft OF Rondell White and P Gabe White.
  • Mike Campbell spent 1989 in the minors before being traded to the White Sox on 4/5/1990 for minor leaguer Rob Fletcher.

Mariners – First Level

  • Gene Harris was in Seattle from 1989-1992. He posted a 2-6 record with a 5.48 ERA in 51 games (6 starts). Nothing particularly impressive, as he struck out 69 in 93 2/3 IP and posted a 1.730 WHIP.
  • He was traded to San Diego on 5/11/1992 for minor leaguer Will  Taylor.
  • Brian Holman was in Seattle from 1989-1991. He posted a 32-35 record with a 3.73 ERA in 80 starts. He threw 544 2/3 IP, striking out 311 and posting a 1.381 WHIP.
  • Holman suffered a career-ending injury during the 1991 season, and never pitched again.
  • Randy Johnson was the prize of the trade, and spent 10 seasons in Seattle. He posted a 130-74 record with a 3.42 ERA, 2162 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. He won the AL Cy Youn Award in 1995, came in 2nd place in 1993 and 1997, and 3rd place in 1994.

Expos – Second Level

  • Rondell White spent from 1993-2000 in Montreal, posting solid production. He hit .293/.348/.480 with 101 HR, 384 RBI, 88 SB, and a 113 OPS+.
  • He was traded to the Cubs on 7/31/2000 for P Scott Downs
  • Gabe White spent from 1994-1995 in Montreal. He posted a 2-3 record with a 6.57 ERA in 26 games.
  • He was traded to the Reds for minor leaguer Jhonny Carvajal on 11/15/1995.

Mariners – Second Level

  • Randy Johnson was traded from the Mariners to the Astros in 1998, and will be the subject of next week’s Trade Retrospective.
  • Minor Leaguer Will Taylor never made it to the Majors.

Expos – Third Level

  • Minor Leaguer Jhonny Carvajal never played in the Majors.
  • P Scott Downs spent from 2000-2004 with the Expos. He went 3-7 with a 5.74 ERA in 14 starts, throwing 69 innings and posting a 1.710 WHIP.
  • He was released on 11/29/2004, shortly after the team announced their move to Washington.

Overall Reactions

The Expos got what they were hoping for in terms of production, but unfortunately the team does not really appear to have had much of a chance of competing for that division title. They did receive the compensation picks, and were successful in drafting solid if not amazing players as compensation. Obviously, the Mariners did much better, as Randy Johnson turned into the ace we all know him as. Brian Holman also appears that he might have had a very high ceiling as well had he not been injured. Next week I will go over the Randy Johnson trade in 1998 that sent him to Houston, and which will help to show just how much of a slam dunk this trade was for the Mariners.


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