Jack Of All Trades: Baseball’s Tallest

As Chris Young found out this week, baseball doesn't pay its players by the yard. Though he checks in at 6'10", Young signed a deal for just $1.1MM guaranteed. Meanwhile, noted tiny person Dustin Pedroia will make $5.5MM in 2011, despite checking in at a generous listing of 5'9". (The rule isn't proportionally inverse, however- 3'7" Eddie Gaedel made just $100 for his one plate appearance).

The Young signing got me wondering: how often is the team getting the tallest player in a trade also getting the best player in that transaction? Let's take a look at trades involving some of baseball's best bets to reach that can on the top shelf.

Currently, the tallest player in baseball history is 6'11" Jon Rauch, who has been dealt three times. In July of 2004, Rauch went from the White Sox, along with reliever Gary Majewski, to the Expos for Carl Everett. Over five seasons in Montreal and Washington, Rauch pitched to a strong ERA+ of 132, becoming one of baseball's better relievers. Everett managed a meager OPS+ of 90 over the rest of 2004, and just 94 in 2005. Is it a coincidence that Everett stands just 6'0?

Chicago dealt Rauch after the 2008 season to Arizona for Emilio Bonifacio, who is a full foot shorter than Rauch. While Bonafacio continued his career-long trend of not hitting, Rauch was awful in the desert, pitching to a 6.56 ERA. Arizona finally sent him to Minnesota in August 2009 for the reasonably-tall 6'2" Kevin Mulvey. Rauch once again thrived. It is hard to say any team that traded for Rauch lost the deal. In this case, the tallest turned out to be best.

As for the aforementioned Young, he's also been traded three times. The Pirates shipped him to the Expos for 5'11" Matt Herges in December 2002. While Herges had a middling season with Montreal, Young continued to pitch well in the minors, leading to a second deal in April 2004. This time Young went to the Rangers with 6'2" minor leaguer Josh McKinley for 6'3" Justin Echols and catcher Einar Diaz, who is not only 5'10", but positionally spends much of his time crouching. And while Young wasn't the best player in the six-person deal that brought him, Adrian Gonzalez and Termel Sledge to San Diego for Billy Killian, Akinori Otsuka and Adam Eaton, he was a strong second to Gonzalez, pitching to a 110 ERA+ over five seasons with the Padres. Again, no one lost out by trading for the really tall guy.

And so it was with the other 6'10" major leaguer, Randy Johnson. At no time did Seattle think, "Oh, to have held on to 6'2" Mark Langston!" The Mariners did get decent value when they traded Johnson, about to hit free agency, for John Halama, Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen. But it wasn't equal value, and neither were the heights- Halama at 6'5". Garcia at 6'4" and Guillen just 6'1". (Can't blame them, really- they didn't have the kind of leverage to land a Jon Rauch.)

Believe it or not, the Yankees got the better of their Randy Johnson trade when they acquired him- Brad Halsey, Javier Vazquez and Dioner Navarro did little for the D'backs, not one of them over 6'2"- and got the short end when dealing him back to Arizona two years later for Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Luis Vizcaino. (Jackson was 6'5" and Ohlendorf 6'4", but both failed to measure up.)

As for the present day, the tallest-player-as-good-luck-charm is present in the person of Kameron Mickolio. A stately 6'9", Mickolio has been involved in two trades. The first saw Mickolio, along with Tony Butler (minors), Adam Jones, George Sherrill and Chris Tillman travel, hopefully with extra leg room, from Seattle to Baltimore in February 2008 in exchange for Erik Bedard. Obviously, Jones has been more valuable to date, but the Mickolio side is well ahead for many reasons on that one. And we'll get to test the theory once again in 2011: Baltimore traded Mickolio last month, along with David Hernandez, to Arizona for Mark Reynolds.

Will the tyranny of the tall hold once more? Or is there something inherent in the Arizona atmosphere that felled Jon Rauch and will do the same to Kameron Mickolio? I can hardly wait for spring training to find out. Tune in next time for analysis of the transactions involving Jumbo Brown and Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons. Working title? Baseball By The Pound.


22 Responses to Jack Of All Trades: Baseball’s Tallest Leave a Reply

  1. Snoochies8 4 years ago

    This was pretty entertaining, possibly one of my favorite posts.

  2. Snoochies8 4 years ago

    Also, what about Loek Van Mil who was traded to the Angels for Brian Fuentes, I mean yeah he was traded once, but I think it woulda been worth a mention

    • Van Mil hasn’t pitched above AA yet. He may be 7’1″ but he needs to reach the Majors first before knocking anyone off this list.

      • djskilbr 4 years ago

        He’s on the Angels’ 40 man. If healthy this year, I bet he’s on the ML roster by the end of the year. And he’s the tallest player in the minors currently.

  3. ironnat 4 years ago

    Nationals sent him to Arizona for Bonifacio.

  4. The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

    I’m 5’9 and feel like a dwarf after reading this

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      even after reading there was a dude who was 3’7 ..?

      • MB923 4 years ago

        Yep I knew about that. And he drew a walk in his only appearance. OBP of 1.000, a major league record! How can he not be in the HOF? lol

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          He had no strike zone!

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          Gaedel’s great-nephew Kyle Gaedele is also a ballplayer, drafted in the 32nd round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 out of high school.[8] The 6-foot-4 Gaedele chose instead to attend Valparaiso University and played for the Madison Mallards of the summer collegiate Northwoods League in 2010. Kyle led the Mallards in home runs (9) and RBI (38) and went 3-for-4 in the league’s All-Star Game.[9]

      • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

        Well aside from him lol, all those other guys I would have to look up to see their faces you know what I mean

  5. I absolutely love your off-the-wall logic, Howard.

    “how often is the team getting the tallest player in a trade also getting the best player in that transaction?” Honestly, how many people would ask that?

  6. “catcher Einar Diaz, who is not only 5’10”, but positionally spends much of his time crouching”

    Best line in a very entertaining post. Nicely done, Howard.

  7. HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

    This is possibly the strangest article I’ve read on here. Strange, but entertaining.

  8. Howard always has interesting and engaging posts. Well done.

  9. Eddie would have made the equivalent of $836.80 (in today’s dollar value), and over a season (again, today’s value), would have made $552,832…not bad cash.

  10. What a bizzare post.

  11. Gumby65 4 years ago

    Then there is Lerch Hendrickson (from Baseball-reference.com):
    * June 1, 1992: Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round of the 1992 amateur draft, but did not sign.
    * June 3, 1993: Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the 1993 amateur draft, but did not sign.
    * June 2, 1994: Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 32nd round of the 1994 amateur draft, but did not sign.
    * June 1, 1995: Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 16th round of the 1995 amateur draft, but did not sign.
    * June 4, 1996: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 19th round of the 1996 amateur draft, but did not sign.
    * June 3, 1997: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 20th round of the 1997 amateur draft. Player signed May 22, 1998.
    * December 14, 2003: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Colorado Rockies sent Justin Speier to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Joe Kennedy to the Colorado Rockies. The Toronto Blue Jays sent a player to be named later to the Colorado Rockies. The Toronto Blue Jays sent Sandy Nin (minors) (December 15, 2003) to the Colorado Rockies to complete the trade.
    * June 27, 2006: Traded by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with Toby Hall and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later, Dioner Navarro and Jae Weong Seo. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent Justin Ruggiano (July 19, 2006) to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to complete the trade.
    * December 12, 2007: Granted Free Agency.
    * January 16, 2008: Signed as a Free Agent with the Florida Marlins.
    * October 31, 2008: Granted Free Agency.
    * December 31, 2008: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
    * November 5, 2009: Granted Free Agency.
    * February 9, 2010: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
    * November 2, 2010: Granted Free Agency.

    Oh yes, and from Basketball-reference.com too:

    June 26, 1996: Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2nd round (31st pick) of the 1996 NBA Draft.

    October 1, 1997: Signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Grizzlies.

    October 8, 1997: Waived by the Vancouver Grizzlies.

    December 23, 1997: Signed as a free agent with the Sacramento Kings.

    March 25, 1999: Signed the first of two 10-day contracts with the New Jersey Nets.

    April 14, 1999: Signed a contract for the rest of the season with the New Jersey Nets

    December 27, 1999: Signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    January 5, 2000: Waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    January 8, 2000: Signed the first of two 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    April 7, 2000: Signed a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets.

    • you mean mark ?? i remember him.

    • When was Mark Hendrickson known as Lerch?

      • Gumby65 4 years ago

        LOL, yes Mark…. He was known to some Dodger fans as “Lerch” (or Lurch) on some fan boards, in reference to his height & Adams Family lore… I guess it wasn’t “league wide” knowledge

  12. The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

    BTW in the near future, their will be another giant roaming MLB mounds soon, the 6’10 Andrew Brackman

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