Remembering the 1992 Trade Deadline

Ah, who can forget 1992? The Boutros Boutros-Ghali Era begins at the United Nations. Lisa Simpson captivates a nation with her uncanny knack for picking football games. Johnny Carson retires, giving Jay Leno the chance to host The Tonight Show for some unspecified period of time. And Brett Favre makes his first start for the Green Bay Packers, leading to a career that will end around the same time that Jay Leno stops hosting The Tonight Show.

Meanwhile, baseball teams still found the time to trade with one another! Here are some of the highlights from those deals…

  • The fun started on July 21, when the Braves traded Juan Berenguer to the Royals for a real-live Cy Young Award winner, Mark Davis. Just three years removed from the award-winning performance (1.85 ERA, 44 saves, 92 strikeouts in 92.2 innings), Davis was floundering with Kansas City, posting a 7.18 ERA with 28 walks and 19 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. He didn't do much better in Atlanta, with a 7.02 ERA after the deal. The Braves won the NL West anyway.
  • On July 30, the Toronto Blue Jays solidified their bullpen by acquiring Mark Eichhorn, who'd begun his career in Toronto, from the California Angels for Rob Ducey and Greg Myers. Both Ducey and Myers went on to long careers with many teams, while Eichhorn was merely adequate for the Jays- a 4.35 ERA after the deal, compared to a 2.38 mark prior to it. His two scoreless postseason innings, however, helped Toronto capture its first World Series.
  • On August 27, a day after Fernando Tatis and Chris Truby signed their first professional contracts, the New York Mets traded David Cone to the Blue Jays for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. Why the Mets thought it a good idea to deal a 29-year-old Cone is hard to fathom- Cone would go on to rack up 114 of his 194 wins after this trade. Thompson, alas, never figured out the strike zone. And while Kent became one of the best to ever play his position, he did most of his damage after the Mets traded him to land Carlos Baerga (who did most of his damage prior to arriving in New York).
  • On the penultimate day one can acquire a player to be added to the postseason roster (a fancy way of saying "August 30"), the Braves traded Sean Ross and Nate Minchey to the Red Sox for Jeff Reardon. Though he was 36 years old, Reardon still had something left in the tank. He pitched to a 1.15 ERA in Atlanta, then added three scoreless innings and a save during the NLCS. He faltered in the World Series, however, blowing the save in Game 2 on a home run by Ed Sprague.
  • The biggest trade of the 1992 season came on August 31, when Oakland shipped Jose Canseco to the Texas Rangers for a huge package: Jeff Russell, Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt and cash. Canseco was finished being one of the best players in the game- he'd posted a career OPS+ of 139 before the trade, but 124 after it, even though he was just 28 at the time of the deal. Meanwhile, the bounty proved to provide little in the way of production. Russell was quickly shipped to Boston, Sierra's post-trade career OPS+ dropoff was even steeper, from 118 to 92, and Witt's control got better, but his strikeout rate collapsed, leaving him with a career 4.57 ERA before the trade, 5.07 ERA after the trade. Even the inflation rate rendered the cash from 1992 progressively worth less over the remainder of the decade.

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