December 4, 2012
Anatomy of a Trade: The 1990 Padres-Blue Jays Blockbuster
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Brent S. Gambill is Vice President & Director, Digital & Social Media, at Martin-Wilbourn Partners (MWPartners.com & @MWPartners). He is the former Executive Producer for MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Sports Social Media founder. Follow him on Twitter at @BrentSGambill.
Last month, the Toronto Blue Jays made their largest trade in franchise history, acquiring stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson. However, only time will tell if that trade also becomes the most impactful swap in team history. For now, that designation remains with the most memorable trade in Winter Meetings history.
During the 1990 Winter Meetings in Los Angeles, more than $100 million—at the time, a massive sum—was spent on free agents. Franklin Stubbs became the most unlikely free agent multimillionaire as Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Harry Dalton signed him to a three-year, $6 million contract. The Atlanta Braves set up their 1991 World Series run by signing free agents Sid Bream and future 1991 National League MVP Terry Pendleton. The St. Louis Cardinals lost free agents Pendleton, Willie McGee, and Vince Coleman, ending their 1980s run of success. Kevin Gross joined another recent free agent signee, Darryl Strawberry, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1990, player salaries increased by $100,000 per player. It was one of the most active Winter Meetings in baseball history, but it is remembered for one blockbuster trade between the Blue Jays and San Diego Padres.
1990 San Diego Padres
In April of 1990, Tom Werner led an investment group of 10 Los Angeles and San Diego businessmen to purchase the Padres from their long-time owners, the Kroc family. On June 14, 1990, Werner’s group was approved as the new owners of the Padres, paying approximately $75 million.