Summarizing the Redleg Trade Review series, today I’ll list my ten worst Reds trades ever. You can search all the trades that were reviewed by going to the Redleg Nation search engine at the upper right corner of the page. I don’t know if it’s a matter of perspective or exactly why it seems this way, but it sure seems that we’ve made a bunch of, let’s just say, not-so-profitable trades over the years.

1. December 15, 1900….Christy Mathewson traded to the New York Giants for pitcher Amos Rusie. I’ll make it simple: Christy Mathewson is one of the five best pitchers of all time, winning 373 lifetime games. He won one with the Reds. Amos Rusie is also a Hall of Fame pitcher. He won 245 lifetime games, zero with the Reds.

2. December 9, 1965: Frank Robinson is traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Baltimore Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and Dick Simpson. Unfortunately, this is one of the most famous baseball trades of all time with no good light shining on the Reds.

3. December 13, 1934: Johnny Mize is purchased by the Cincinnati Reds from the St. Louis Cardinals.
April 15, 1935: Returned to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Cincinnati Reds following previous purchase.

Johnny Mize failed a physical with the Reds who returned him to the Cardinals after the Reds had purchased his contract. A couple of operations later, Mize becomes a Hall of Fame first baseman with a .312 career batting average and 359 career home runs.

4. December 5, 1957: Curt Flood is traded by the Cincinnati Redlegs with Joe Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marty Kutyna, Willard Schmidt and Ted Wieand. The Reds didn’t have room for future long time centerfield Gold Glover, Curt Flood, and it probably cost them the 1964 pennant. The Reds finished one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals…for whom Flood batted .311 with 211 hits and won a Gold Glove.

5. Who needs talent to win or draw attendance?

a. 1903….Of Sam Crawford jumps to Detroit Tigers (AL)
b. 1904….Sold Jake Beckley to St. Louis Cardinals
c. 1904… traded OF Mike Donlin to New York Giants
d. 1906….sold OF Cy Seymour to New York Giants
e. 1906…traded 3b Harry Steinfeldt to Chicago Cubs for SP Jake Weimer
f. 1906….traded SP Orvall Overall to Chicago Cubs for SP Bob Wicker

I couldn’t choose just one of these…and you may want to add Christy Mathewson to this list, too. This was an entire franchise attitude. Reds owners said they couldn’t afford to pay their stars, so their self fulfilling prophecy took place as they were losers for the next decade and their attendance was low. Imagine how good a one-two punch of Mathewson and Noodles Hahn would’ve been, especially coupled with the hitters listed above and second baseman Miller Huggins…

6. Starting pitchers for reserve outfielders–the Big Red Machine days…

1976==Traded 1b Tony Perez and LHP Will McEnaney to Montreal for LHP Woodie Fryman and RHP Dale Murray and the following:

1. 1970–Traded LHP Steve Mingori to Cleveland Indians for Jay Ward.
2. 1971—Traded RHP Milt Wilcox to Cleveland for OF Ted Uhlaender
3. 1972–Traded OF Hal McRae and SP Wayne Simpson to KC for OF Richie Scheinblum and SP Roger Nelson
4. 1973—Traded LHP Ross Grimsley to Baltimore for Merv Rettenmund
5. 1975—Traded RHP Joaquin Andujar to Houston for two minor league pitchers
6. 1977—traded LHP Mike Caldwell to Milwaukee for two minor leaguers
7. 1977—traded RHP Bill Caudill, along with LHP Woodie Fryman to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Bill Bonham
8. 1977—Traded Shane Rawley to Mariners for Of Dave Collins

We loved what Bob Howsam did to bring us the Big Red Machine, but the Machine was grinding down through the 1970’s due to our lack of pitching. We were brought down due to over use of our young pitchers and dealing a rotation and bullpen worth of talent to other teams for spare parts, not to mention dealing away the first great DH of the American League in pure hitter Hal McRae. We should’ve gotten more in return. The McRae trade may have been worse than the Perez trade.

7. 1960’s talent firesale…

1960: Traded outfielder Tony Gonzalez to Philadelphia for OF Wally Post
1961: Traded LHP Claude Osteen to Washington for RHP Dave Sisler
1962: Outfielder Jimmy Wynn is drafted from the Reds by the Houston Colt .45’s in the “first-year draft”
1962: Traded 2B Cookie Rojas to Philadelphia for RHP Jim Owens
1963: Traded LHP Mike Cuellar to Detroit for “unknown reasons” (thought to have been released through the Mexican League where Cuellar was pitching)
1964: Traded OF-2b Cesar Tovar to Minnesota for LHP Gerry Arrigo

I guess we can add Curt Flood to this list, too. We had five legitimate centerfielders working through our system at the same time–Vada Pinson, Flood, Gonzalez, Wynn, Tovar. In my mind, we kept the best centerfielder in Pinson, but we dealt Flood, and didn’t protect a young Wynn who grew up in our back yard and and kept Tommy Harper instead, letting the others get away too for nothing. Of the gentlemen listed as being traded away, only Gonzalez was never an all-star and even he received MVP votes three times. What’s amazing is how little we got in return, and then we spent the 1960’s in the middle of the pack.

8. With the Nasty Boys, who needs more relievers?

February 15, 1988: Jeff Montgomery is traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals for Van Snider.
November 27, 1991: John Wetteland is traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Tim Belcher to the Cincinnati Reds for Eric Davis and Kip Gross.
December 11, 1991: John Wetteland is traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Bill Risley to the Montreal Expos for Willie Greene, Dave Martinez and Scott Ruskin
November 17, 1992: Trevor Hoffman is drafted by the Florida Marlins from the Cincinnati Reds as the 8th pick in the 1992 expansion draft.

I couldn’t choose just one here either, and you can add the John Franco for Randy Myers trade, too. The Reds traded a plethora of young all-star pitchers away, getting virtually nothing in return, and spent the next decade chasing down pitching.

Numbers 5-6-7-8 were all organizational era decisions. All four eras had large talent purges from different ownership groups and different general managers for various reasons, and all hurt the organization. The early 1900’s team was financially strapped; the 1960’s group had more talent than they need (expansion was on the way), and the 1970’s groups were looking for spare parts and immediate gratification rather than saving/developing for the future. We had so many quality relievers in the early 1990’s that I don’t think we valued them as highly as we should have. The same could be said for the plethora of starting pitchers we had in the early 1970’s.

9. December 26, 1995: David Wells is traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Baltimore Orioles for Trovin Valdez (minors) and Curtis Goodwin. The Reds acquired Wells for the successful stretch drive of 1995, then traded him to the Orioles in the offseason. The Reds have been starving for starting pitching ever since. Wells won 160 more games, including a perfect game after being traded from the Reds.

10. June 15, 1949: Cincinnati Reds trade outfielders Hank Sauer and Frank Baumholtz to the Chicago Cubs for outfielders Peanuts Lowrey and Harry Walker.

February 16, 1953: Joe Adcock is traded as part of a 4-team trade by the Cincinnati Reds to the Milwaukee Braves. The Milwaukee Braves sent cash to the Cincinnati Reds. The Milwaukee Braves sent Earl Torgeson to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Brooklyn Dodgers sent Jim Pendleton to the Milwaukee Braves. The Brooklyn Dodgers sent Rocky Bridges to the Cincinnati Reds. The Philadelphia Phillies sent cash to the Milwaukee Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies sent Russ Meyer to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Reds had a lack of offense in the early 1950’s…now you know why.

11. November 3, 1992: Paul O’Neill is traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Joe DeBerry (minors) to the New York Yankees for Roberto Kelly. O’Neill went on to become a fan favorite and all-star for the Yankees and starred in five World Series for the Yankees. Kelly became a traveling fourth outfielder.

3 Responses

  1. Dan

    Uh, Steve, by my count your “top 10 worst trades ever” list includes 34 trades.

    Can you pare this down? It’s too much for my pea brain to take in at once.

  2. JoseOle

    Well you can thank the Wells trade to Marge Schott. The story I read back in the day was Davids son had his Reds hat on backwards one day. Well Margie didn’t like that so she took it from him and told him that good little Reds don’t wear their hats that way. It made the boy cry and David Wells told the GM he would never pitch for Cincy again.

  3. Mark in CC

    Wells, as the story still goes, was going to make too much money. So he was sent along.

    Adcock was traded because he was basically the same player as “Big Klu”.

    The thing I remember about Howsam’s deal was that they were seldom one-sided. It seemed he was willing to give-up something to get something. Need for need.

    The story on the Mathewson deal was somewhat pre-fixed. If there had not been a prearrangmeent between the Giants and Reds to trade Mathewson to the Giants the Reds would not have been able to acquire him originally. Amos Rusie was more payment for services rendered that for a trade of Mathewson.