Life After The Trade

We've seen a flurry of trades after months of anticipation. Now, players join new clubs in different cities.

Here’s an obscure baseball trivia question for you. What do John McDonald and Harry Chiti have in common? You’re forgiven if you didn’t know that both men were once traded for themselves. 

But before McDonald worked his way into baseball’s history books, he faced the reality of joining the Detroit Tigers. And back in 2005, playing baseball was the easy part.

“99% of the time it’s a place where it’s like ‘hey I’m at the ballpark, give me my glove, let’s take some grounders, take some [batting practice], even though I’m wearing a different uniform,” McDonald said. “But that other 1% is thinking ‘all right, how much of a burden did I just put on other people in my life?’”

At the time, McDonald’s family had lived in Toronto for about four months and was just becoming accustomed to the city. As soon as the Blue Jays traded McDonald, his wife had to pack the couple’s belongings in Toronto and drive them to Detroit so McDonald would have things to wear on an upcoming road trip. She then returned to Toronto to pick up more boxes and McDonald was playing baseball, so he couldn’t help out.

You might think that rumblings about potential trades made the process difficult for McDonald, but they were the least of his worries five years ago.

“There were no rumors then, I mean there was no website, like [MLB Trade Rumors], but there was a lot of times a guy had an idea,” he said. “I had no idea so the hardest part about it was for your families.”

The Tigers acquired McDonald, already an established big leaguer, before the 2005 trade deadline. Eventually, the Tigers sent none other than John McDonald to Toronto to complete the trade. Like Harry Chiti four decades before him, McDonald was traded for himself.

McDonald jokes that it’s not much better than being traded for a bag of balls, but notes that the Blue Jays definitely got a fair return. More often than not, though, veterans are traded for minor leaguers or major leaguers without much experience.

That’s what happened to Justin Masterson a year ago, when the Indians acquired him in the Victor Martinez deal. Unlike McDonald, Masterson was traded for a big-name player, and he says it’s kind of cool to be part of a trade involving a star.

“Yeah, it makes you feel better than being traded for someone you don’t even know,” Masterson said. “I think there’s something cool to it. Your first time traded is always an interesting experience.”

Interesting?

“Words can’t really describe it,” Masterson said. “There’s no way to tell someone who has never gone through it what it really feels like. There’s a lot of things in life that take place like that, that you can’t really put a word to describe exactly the way it feels.”

He can’t find the rights words to explain what it’s like to be dealt, but he’s sure of one thing. The Indians were welcoming, so joining the team wasn’t hard.

“These days, everyone knows someone,” Masterson said. “You know someone somewhere through some sort of connection, so it makes it a little easier to get connected.” 

Still, the adjustment process continues long after the rumors stop. But that doesn’t mean all players dislike the trade deadline drama. McDonald, for one, doesn't mind it.

“No, because it’s fun,” he said. “You don’t get to play [pro baseball] for very long. You need to embrace all parts of [being an MLB player].”


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