December 1, 1972: The Reds trade hitter-formerly injured 2b-turned-outfielder Hal McRae and injured pitching phenom Wayne Simpson to the Kansas City Royals for reserve outfielder Richie Scheinblum and formerly injured pitching phenom Roger Nelson.
It wasn’t a good deal for the Reds, but it was a good change of scenery for the participants. McRae had been drafted in the 1965 amateur draft, the first amateur draft held by the major leagues. It was a super draft for the Reds that netted them Bernie Carbo (1st round) and Johnny Bench (2nd round) as well as McRae (6th round). McRae was drafted as a shortstop and played 2b in the Reds minor league system earning his first cup of of coffee with the Reds in 1968 when he batted .196 in 17 games. However, McRae suffered an injury and was moved to the outfield where he proved to be a defensive liability despite carrying a huge line drive doubles hitting power bat. The Reds tried him in LF, CF, RF, and 3b in the majors (after his injury) before deciding they needed to move him. McRae’s best season with the Reds came in 1971 when he hit .264 with 24 doubles in 354 plate appearances. He was used primarily as a pinch hitter in 1972 before his trade. In four years with the Reds, McRae batted .257 with 22 homers (101 OPS+). For his career, he played 19 seasons, batting .290 with 484 doubles and 191 homers (122 OPS+).
Simpson was the major league’s pitching phenom of 1970. Even with fellow rookie Don Gullett on the team, Simpson was the talk of the league and was nothing short of excellent the first half of his rookie season. He pitching a two-hit shutout in his very first major league game and was 13-1 with a 2.69 ERA by the all-star break. By the all-star break, Simpson had tossed a one-hit shut out, a two-hit shut out, allowed three hits four times, four hits twice, and five hits once and was selected to the all-star team. Unfortunately, he had hurt his arm by this time and made only six appearances after the all-star break, finishing the season 14-3 with a 3.02 ERA. In three seasons with the Reds, Simpson was 26-15 with a 3.85 ERA (95 ERA+). For his career, Simpson was 36-31 in six seasons with a 4.37 ERA (86 ERA+).
In Scheinblum, the Reds received a career pinch hitter coming off a career offensive year at age 29 when he had led the American League in batting average for a good part of the year before finishing the season at .300 (140 OPS+). Knowing the Reds’ emphasis on speed and defense, Scheinblum was an unusual acquisition in that he was also a poor outfielder who never stole a base in eight major league seasons. He didn’t hit at all for the Reds, batting .222 in 29 games before being dealt to the California Angels for players to be named later (pitcher Terry Wilshusen who pitched a major league career total of 1/3 inning for the Angels and minor league pitcher Thor Skogan). Scheinblum began hitting again after his trade and batted .328 for the Angels the remainder of the season (148 OPS+). He played for three teams in 1974, his last major league season. His career average was .263 in eight seasons.
Nelson had been the Kansas City Royals first pick in their 1968 expansion draft after going 4-3 with a 2.41 ERA with the Baltimore Orioles. He was 7-13 with a 3.31 ERA (111 ERA+) for the expansion Royals before going 0-3 over the next two seasons in 17 games while suffering for injuries. Nelson pitched extremely well in 1972, going 11-6 with a 2.08 ERA (145 OPS+), leading the league with a WHIP of 0.871 in 173 innings and the Reds acquired him to bolster their rotation. Injuries returned and Nelson went 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA in two seasons for the Reds. The Reds sold him to the Chicago White Sox following the 1974 season, but the White Sox released him in spring training. He finished his career 29-32 with a 3.06 ERA (110 ERA+).