I always find it extremely interesting to see how trades worked out for the teams involved, and what effects the trade had on both teams’ fortunes. I’ll be doing one of these each week, as there have been so many blockbuster trades that happened in recent years.
One of the first blockbuster trades of the 2000s was the requested, and achieved trade of Ken Griffey Jr to the Reds for OF Mike Cameron, SP Brett Tomko, IF Antonio Perez, and P Jake Meyer.
Griffey requested a trade to Cincinnati so that he could be closer to his home and his family. Griffey had posted 3 consecutive seasons of 45+ home runs and 134+ RBI, and was going to be 30 years old in 2000. Griffey was going to be a free agent after the 2000 season, and the Mariners must have known that they were unlikely to keep Griffey.
The Mariners were coming off of a 79-83 season where they finished in 3rd place, and also knew that young SS Alex Rodriguez would also be a free agent after the 2000 season. The team would most likely have to begin a rebuilding effort based on the rest of the competition in the division, and moving Griffey would help to move that forward.
The Reds had finished 1999 with a 96-67 record, losing a play-in game against the Mets for the Wild Card playoff spot. I imagine that they had to feel that bringing the elite Ken Griffey Jr in would be enough to help put them over the top in their division.
The Moving Pieces
Griffey went to Cincinnati, and almost immediately signed a 9 year, $112.5 million contract extension. The Reds slotted him in to play CF, and were hopeful that he would help to bring them closer to a championship. With 398 career homeruns, it was widely expected that he would be able to compete for the all-time home run record in Cincinnati, and reach that number before the end of the contract.
Mike Cameron was slotted in by the Mariners to replace Griffey in center field. Cameron had been the starting center fielder in Cincinnati, and posted a .256 batting average with 21 HR, 66 RBI and 38 SB. While he wasn’t going to be Griffey in the outfield, he still had the potential to be a very solid center fielder and was also under team control for 4 more seasons.
Brett Tomko was 26 and coming off of a 5-7 season record with 132 strikeouts in 172 innings (33 appearances).
Jake Meyer was a 24 year old minor leaguer who had finished the season with the Reds’ AA team. He had posted a 3.57 ERA with 16 saves between A and AA.
Antonio Perez had been an international signing by the Reds, and was a 19 year old shortstop who had dominated the Midwest League with a .288 batting average, 7 home runs, and 35 stolen bases.
What Happened Next
Ken Griffey had another excellent season, although slightly below his previous levels. He hit .271/.387/.556 with 40 HR, 118 RBI, and 100 runs scored. Unfortunately, this didn’t lead to the improvement that they had hoped, and the Reds finished 85-77, 10 games back in the division and out of the playoffs.
The Mariners, almost surprisingly, went in the opposite direction, finishing 91-71 and winning the AL Wild Card. Mike Cameron hit 19 HR and stole 24 bases while playing a solid center field.
The Net Moves
Cincinnati – First Level
- Cincinnati had Griffey for the 9 seasons of the contract, but it didn’t quite play out the way they had hoped. Griffey spent large portions of the 2001-2007 seasons on the disabled list, and the contract hamstrung the team. The performance surrounding Griffey was poor also, as they never won more than 80 games while Griffey was with the team.
- At the end of his stint with the Reds, Griffey had hit 210 home runs, but had only averaged 105 games per season there.
- In 2008, he was traded to the White Sox in the hope that he could compete for a championship. The Reds acquired P Nick Masset and IF Danny Richar for him.
Cincinnati – Second Level
- Richar spent the remainder of the 2008 and 2009 seasons with the Reds, appearing in only 23 games total. He was not brought back for 2010.
- Masset has spent both the remainder of 2008 and all of 2009 with the Reds. He has posted a 6-1 record with a 2.74 ERA in 95 innings over the two seasons, and remains in the bullpen for the Reds in 2010.
Seattle – First Level
- Mike Cameron spent the 2000-2003 seasons with the Mariners, averaging 152 games a season, hitting 87 home runs, stealing 106 bases, and posting a .256 batting average. He left via free agency, and no compensation was received.
- Brett Tomko spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons with the Mariners, posting a 10-6 record overall in 43 appearances (12 starts) and a 4.82 ERA. He was traded in the 2001 offseason, along with C Tom Lampkin and IF Ramon Vazquez to the Padres for C Ben Davis, IF Alex Arias, and P Wascar Serrano.
- Antonio Perez never played in the Majors for the Mariners, and was traded to the Devil Rays in part of the compensation that the Mariners received for signing manager Lou Piniella. The Mariners received OF Randy Winn as well.
- Jake Meyer never made it to the Majors, not with the Mariners or with anyone else. He was traded to the White Sox in 2002 as a part of a trade involving another minor leaguer.
Seattle – Second Level
- C Ben Davis was included in the trade of SP Freddy Garcia to the White Sox. This trade netted the Mariners C Miguel Olivo, IF Mike Morse, and OF Jeremy Reed. Reed, it was thought, would be able to play CF for the Mariners and help to bring some offense to the lineup as well.
- P Wascar Serrano and IF Alex Arias had essentially no impact on the Mariners, as neither played in a game for the team. Arias was released, and Serrano did not pitch.
- OF Randy Winn played for the Mariners for the 2003-2005 seasons, being traded to the Giants at the trading deadline for P Jesse Foppert and C Yorvit Torrealba. Foppert played in AAA for the Mariners, never pitching in the Majors before being released. Torrealba spent the remainder of the 2005 season with the Mariners before being traded to the Rockies for a minor leaguer.
Seattle – Third Level
- Miguel Olivo was traded to San Diego for a pair of minor leaguers (Nathaniel Mateo and Miguel Ojeda), neither of whom pitched in the Majors.
- Mike Morse was traded in 2009 to Washington for OF Ryan Langerhans, who played in 38 games for the Mariners, and is currently on the Major League roster.
- Jeremy Reed never really fulfilled the potential he was thought to possess, playing sporadically from 2004-2008 and posting a .255 batting average with 11 HR and 19 SB over the 4 seasons. He was traded after the 2008 season as a part of the 3 team trade with the Mets and the Indians. The Mariners sent RP J.J. Putz and Sean Green to the Mets, and IF Luis Valbuena to the Indians, and received back from Cleveland OF Franklin Gutierrez, and from New York received IF Mike Carp, OF Endy Chavez, RP Aaron Heilman and Jason Vargas, and prospects Maikel Cleto and Ezequiel Carrera.
- Gutierrez is a fixture in the Mariners outfield, and widely considered to be the top defensive center fielder in all of baseball right now.
- P Aaron Heilman was traded to the Chicago Cubs for SS Ronny Cedeno and P Garrett Olson without throwing a pitch for the team.
- During midseason 2009, the Mariners moved SS Ronny Cedeno as a part of the trade that brought SS Jack Wilson and SP Ian Snell to Seattle.
This is a trade that overall, I thought would be really good for the Reds at the time. Griffey had shown himself to be an elite outfielder, and well on his way to being the greatest player of all time. Injuries derailed that thought, and the Reds spent a lot of money and unfortunately did not get nearly the production and wins that they had hoped for.
For the Mariners, this trade has eventually worked itself out to some extent. Frankin Gutierrez, Ian Snell, and Jack Wilson are all major players on the current Mariners roster, and the team was able to make the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 with the contributions of the players acquired.
I think that overall, this is one of those trades that had the potential to be really a good one for both teams, and in the end they both got lackluster results overall.