The news that the Toronto Blue Jays jettisoned right fielder Alex Rios in a waiver wire deal to the Chicago White Sox for – well – nothing, has prompted some thinking on my part. In that the Blue Jays got, again, nothing for Rios, save for relief from his $60 million contract, I got to wondering about the other top giveaway trades in baseball history.
5. The city of Montreal gives the Expos to the city of Washington D.C. D.C should have at least made Montreal take Marion Barry in return.
4. The Boston Red Sox sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Technically, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee got $120,000 when he sold Ruth to the Yankees in the winter of 1920, big money in those days. But it went to finance a Broadway musical for Frazee and the Sox failed to win the World Series for 84 subsequent years.
Really though, this is a stupid transaction regardless of Ruth’s involvement, and it reinforces an important lesson Major League Baseball was forced to learn in the wake of the deal: Ballplayers should never be traded for musicals (or shitty ’80s sitcoms as the Expos realized after the disastrous Andre Dawson for “Who’s the Boss?” blockbuster. Wait that never happened.) From a simple business and marketing perspective, there’s rarely a good rate of return in these sorts of trades. And in my book, even Matt Williams past his prime would be too high a price to pay for “Miss Saigon” or “Rent.”
3. Minor leaguer gets traded for 10 wood bats. This got a lot less funny when the player in question, John C. Odom, died of a drug overdose thereafter.
But on a lighter note…
2. George Costanza gets traded by George Steinbrenner for some fried chicken. Need I say more?
1. A Negro Leagues sports writer attempts to give Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and Cool Papa Bell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1937. And never hears back. Gotta love that racist old time baseball. Imagine how much that Pirates squad would have cleaned up during World War II.