On this date in 1990, the Yankees traded future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield to the California Angels for right-hander Mike Witt. However, the deal was not truly consummated until almost a week later when the rightfielder would finally give the deal his blessing. Winfield’s situation was a complicated one: the veteran had ten-and-five rights and therefore had the right to reject trades. However, his contract included a list of seven teams that he would agree to be traded to and the Angels were on it.
“This has nothing to do with the California Angels. I respect them, like them, the city, the weather,” said Winfield on May 12th, according to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. “I played with [Angel Manager] Doug Rader [in San Diego]. Everything’s cool. I have nothing bad to say about the Angels. I’m going to play a lot of years for somebody, but it isn’t going to be determined today where or when..”
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the Players Association, argued that the list was given to the Yankees under protest and the club was aware that Winfield had final say over any trade. Fehr cited another botched deal from 1988 which would have send the outfielder to the Astros until it was rejected by Winfield. One could assume that Winfield’s refusal to sign off on on the trade stemmed from his infamous rift with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, but there was a much simpler explanation for his veto. The outfielder was in the final year of his ten-year, $20MM deal and was looking for a contract extension from the Halos.
The Angels were now in an awkward position and ultimately decided to give in to Winfield’s demands. On May 17th, the club agreed to a three-year, $9.1MM deal with Winfield that was only guaranteed for the first season. If released before the ’91 campaign, Winfield would receive a buyout of $2MM plus an additional $450K to cover the following year. With that, the deal was finally put through.
For his part, Witt was excited by the prospect of joining the Yankees and resuming his role as a starter. The 6’4″ hurler turned in a 4.47 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 16 starts for the Bombers that season. As for Winfield, he bounced back in spectacular fashion after getting off to a slow start in the first 20 games of the season. Upon joining the Angels, Winfield hit .275/.348/.466 in 112 games and won the 1990 MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Winfield would call it quits after the 1995 season, capping off a spectacular 22-year major league career. The right fielder was inducted into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility of 2001 and became the first player to go into the Hall as a San Diego Padre.
This post was initially published on May 11th, 2012.