This Date In Transactions History Rumors

This Date In Transactions History: Chris Carpenter

On this date in 2002, the Blue Jays released their Opening Day starter, right-hander Chris Carpenter.  The 27-year-old was removed from the 40-man roster after a trying season in which he went just 73 1/3 innings before being shut down to undergo shoulder surgery.  He posted a 5.28 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in his final year in Toronto, but the former first-round pick had a stronger season in 2001 finishing with a 4.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 powered by a solid first-half of the year.  The Blue Jays did offer Carpenter an incentive-laden minor league deal to stay on board, but the hurler instead decided to try his luck on the open market.

The Cardinals, of course, would be the team to roll the dice on 6'6" right-hander.  Carpenter was signed to a deal with a club option for 2004 with the hope that he would be ready to return by the mid-season in 2003.  The club bought out his '04 season for $200K rather pay the him the $2MM he would have made, but the two sides were able to negotiate a new deal later on that winter.  The Cardinals were grateful that they did, as Carpenter returned in 2004 to register a 3.46 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 across 28 starts to help the Cards win the National League pennant.  That was a sign of great things to come as he would edge Dontrelle Willis for the Cy Young Award in 2005 and delivered an almost equally strong campaign in '06.

In his time with St. Louis, Carpenter's legacy has been one marked by quality pitching and frustrating injuries, but the resilient pitcher has always found a way to bounce back from his extended absences.  A torn labrum delayed his Cardinals debut, but he certainly managed to make it worth the wait.  Four years later, Tommy John surgery limited him to four starts across two seasons.  Tomorrow afternoon, Carpenter will take the mound against the Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS despite undergoing surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome which was supposed to sideline him all season long.  Despite his battles through multiple injuries, it's safe to say that the Blue Jays' decision ten years ago is one that they would like to have back.

This Date In Transactions History: Tim Salmon

Had MLBTradeRumors been in existence during Tim Salmon's strongest years, it's unlikely that you would have seen him featured prominently on the site.  For the most part, it was difficult to picture the outfielder known as Mr. Angel donning another uniform.  On this date in 2006, Salmon announced that he would end his career with the only franchise that he had ever known. 

Salmon quickly made a name for himself in the majors as he hit .283/.382/.536 with 31 homers in his first full season in 1993, earning AL Rookie of the Year honors with 100% of the first-place votes.  The right fielder didn't let up in the years that followed and finished seventh in MVP voting in both 1995 and 1997, seasons in which he posted an OPS of 1.024 and .911, respectively.  Injuries would limit Salmon to just 98 games in 1999 – his lowest total since becoming a full-time major leaguer – but he bounced back in spectacular fashion in 2000, matching his career-high of 34 home runs.

The strong season came at the tailend of his four-year, $16.5MM deal with the Halos.  The lifelong Angel wasn't short on suitors, but quickly chose to stay put with the Angels on a four-year, $40MM extension.  Salmon's 2001 regular season was somewhat forgettable and it stayed that way thanks to his strong bounceback in 2002, culminating in the Angels' 2002 World Series championship.

The veteran would later reach another crossroads in his career where he may have entertained the idea of playing elsewhere.  After missing all of 2005 thanks to a pair of significant surgeries, Salmon hooked on with the Angels in Spring Training with the hope of auditioning himself for other clubs.  However, the veteran's play earned him a spot with the club in 2006 in which he saw 54 games at DH with a handful of appearances in the outfield.  On September 28th, Salmon announced that he would call it a career after 14 big league seasons. 

On a day in which the Braves are paying tribute to their own longtime superstar, it seems fitting to also reflect on the career of another lifelong franchise pillar who plied his craft on the opposite coast.  While Chipper Jones' body of work is obviously quite different from Salmon's, it's rather remarkable that the outfielder never received an All-Star nomination throughout the course of his lengthy career.  However, he will always be remembered fondly by Angels fans for his power bat, his resilience in the face of multiple setbacks, and his instrumental role in the club's 2002 championship.

This Date In Transactions History: Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus - Blue Jays (PW)

It’s been exactly one year since the Blue Jays, Cardinals and White Sox completed the complicated three-team trade that sent Colby Rasmus to Toronto. The Cardinals have an 88-70 regular season record in the last calendar year, plus the 11 postseason wins they earned en route to the 2011 World Series championship. Meanwhile, Rasmus has hit 20 homers and posted a .224/.283/.419 batting line in 543 plate appearances with the Blue Jays. He struggled after arriving in Toronto last summer, but has hit for power so far in 2012, and now has 17 home runs on the season. 

I spoke with Rasmus earlier in the month. Here are some of his reflections on the trade, his ability and playing in Toronto: 

MLBTR – Looking back, what are your thoughts on the trade?

Colby Rasmus – I’m definitely happy I got traded. I’ve enjoyed my time here since I’ve been here. When I look back at my time here, I feel like I’ve worked hard, played hard and that’s all I can do. So I’m happy with it.


Draft Signings: Mariners, Mets, Royals, A’s, Pirates

Here are today's latest draft signings, with the most recent updates up top..

  • ‪The Mariners‬ signed sixth-round pick Timmy Lopes for $550K, well over the pick value of $198K, according to Callis (via Twitter).  The infielder out of California is said to have a good bat, not unlike his older brother Christian Lopes who was drafted by the Blue Jays last year.  The M's also announced that they signed 26 others from this year's draft and have now inked 25 of their first 30 picks.
  • The Mets‬ signed third-rounder Matt Koch for $425K, slightly below his pick value of $445K, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America.  The right-hander has a 92-96 mph fastball and flashes good slider and changeup. 
  • The Royals‬ signed fourth-round pick, Stanford infielder Kenny Diekroeger, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  Just one of Kansas City's top ten picks remain unsigned.
  • The A’s announced that they agreed to terms with center fielder Herschel Powell (20th round), right-hander Lee Sosa (26th), shortstop Christopher Wolfe (30th), and first baseman John Wooten (37th).
  • The Pirates announced that they signed eight draft picks, including infielder Eric Wood (sixth round).  Pittsburgh has now inked nine draft picks in total and continues to negotiate with eighth-overall pick Mark Appel.

This Date In Transactions History: Bill Buckner

Everyone makes mistakes.  However, not everyone draws the ire of an entire fan base and a city for their errors in life or on the baseball diamond.  For a long time, it seemed as though Bill Buckner would never be forgiven by the Red Sox faithful for his infamous play.  The Mets, seemingly on the verge of elimination in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, mounted a comeback in the 10th inning that should have been extinguished by Mookie Wilson's slow roller to first base.  Buckner, hampered by two bad ankles, let the ball squeak through his legs, allowing the Mets to score the winning run, tie the series at 3-3, and capture the title two days later at Shea.

Buckner remained with the club for the 1987 season until he was released in early July after hitting .273/.299/.322 with two homers in 75 games.  His final 57 games with the Angels were much stronger as he posted a slash line of .306/.337/.432 with three home runs.  Prior to the 1990 season, the Red Sox signed the 40-year-old Buckner and the veteran received a standing ovation when he was introduced at the home opener on April 9th.  Buckner's Beantown homecoming would be short-lived, however, and on this date in 1990, the veteran would retire upon being released by the Red Sox.

The first baseman made just 48 plate appearances in his second Boston go-round but would retire with a strong 22-year body of work to reflect upon.  Buckner came into his own as a member of the Dodgers before enjoying his prime with the Cubs, where he hit .300/.332/.439 across eight seasons.  While Buckner's most memorable moment on the field was his gaffe October of 1986, the first baseman was able to wrap up his impressive career on good terms with the Fenway Park crowd.

This Date In Transactions History: Rickey Henderson

In 1999, Rickey Henderson hooked on with the Mets and turned in yet another strong campaign.  The 40-year-old hit .315/.423/.466 in 121 games and racked up 37 steals to go with it.  However, production isn't always everything and, shockingly, Henderson proved to be difficult to work with.  The veteran found himself as fodder for the tabloids when he allegedly left the Mets' dugout to play cards with Bobby Bonilla during the team's season-ending loss in the NLCS to the Braves.  The friction between Henderson and the front office would carry over in to the 2000 season when the leftfielder openly complained about his $1.9MM salary and demanded a raise during Spring Training which he never received.  On May 13th, 2000, Henderson's time in Queens would come to an end.

In an afternoon game against the Marlins at Shea, Henderson belted a shot that he felt was certain to clear the fence.  Henderson opted to watch the ball in flight only to see it fall short.  The outfielder wound up with what amounted to a 355-foot single and didn't feel the need to apologize for it.  "I didn't cause them to lose. Look someplace else," said Henderson following the 7-6 loss, according to the Associated Press.  It turns out that the future Hall of Famer would be the one who was someplace else as he went unclaimed on waivers before finally being released.  Agent Jeff Borris wasn't fazed by the news.

"I don't anticipate having a problem finding him a place to play," said Borris. "A lot of people think Rickey has a lot of baseball left in him. Rickey has had a spectacular career, and it would be a blemish if it ended this way. There are a couple of major milestones that he still wants to achieve."

Borris was right as the legendary illeist wasn't without employment for long.  Henderson quickly hooked on with the Mariners and finished out the year hitting .238/.362/.327.  While that was the end of Henderson's time playing for the Mets, he would once again don orange-and-blue as a special instructor and later on as the team's first base coach in 2007.

This Date In Transactions History: Dave Winfield

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 rightfielder 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 Date In Transactions History: Roger Clemens

Of all the dramatic things Suzyn Waldman has ever seen, the comeback of Roger Clemens ranks pretty highly.  On this date in 2007, the Rocket appeared in George Steinbrenner's box at Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch as the Bombers faced the Mariners.  Clemens told the rabid crowd over the PA system, "Thank y'all. Well they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you its a privilege to be back. I'll be talkin' to y'all soon."

The return marked Clemens' fourth return from retirement, enough to make even the most indecisive boxer or professional wrestler roll his eyes.  Coaxing the hurler out of the Lone Star State wasn't cheap either as he inked a deal worth the pro-rated portion of $28,000,022 (the "22", of course, for his jersey number).  That worked out to $18.7MM in total, good for roughly $4.7MM per month and $1MM per start.  The contract also included a "family plan" clause that excused Clemens from traveling with the club for trips in which he was not scheduled to start.

It wasn't hard to understand why the Yankees would back up a Brink's truck for his services – the club was in desperate need of pitching and Clemens had posted a 2.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 across parts of the last three seasons in Houston.  The 44-year-old's final return from retirement wasn't quite as sharp.  Clemens made 17 starts and one relief appearance in the regular season and registered a 4.18 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.  The Rocket was then shut down for the final few weeks of the season as he was bothered with a left hamstring injury.

Clemens' first start in the postseason proved to be his final of the year and his career.  In Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians, the right-hander aggravated that same hamstring in the third inning and was pulled by manager Joe Torre.  The severity of the injury led the Yankees to pull him from the playoff roster, leaving him ineligible until the World Series.  Unfortunately for Clemens & Co., the Yanks didn't make it beyond the ALDS as Cleveland wrapped up the series in four games.  Clemens' final go-round in the majors wouldn't net him a third championship ring, but it did add to his overall net worth.  According to Baseball Reference, the Rocket made nearly $151MM over the course of his 24-year big league career.

This Date In Transactions History: Herb Washington

Most of us are familiar with the story of Archibald Graham, the New York Giants outfielder who appeared in just one game in 1905 — without making a plate appearance — before moving on to other endeavors in life. For this distinction, "Moonlight," as he was nicknamed, was immortalized in W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe and later its film adaptation, Field of Dreams.

Graham's story was exhumed and canonized by those stories, for sure, but it hasn't been entirely unique. Here's an even weirder one: former Athletic Herb Washington. Notice I didn't include a position to describe Washington — because he didn't have one. Despite playing in a whopping 105 Major League games with Oakland in 1974-75, Washington never made a plate appearance, played in the field or threw a pitch. He was a so-called "designated runner," used exclusively as a pinch-runner.

Washington was a decorated sprinter as a student-athlete at Michigan State University, and despite not having played baseball since he was a high schooler in Mississippi, his blazing speed apparently made him fit for the Major Leagues in the eyes of eccentric Oakland owner Charles O. Finley. Thus, Washington would parachute into games and, often times, attempt to steal bases.

The only problem was, Washington wasn't terribly good at it. Sure, he swiped 31 bags in his 105 games, but that was in 48 attempts — good for an underwhelming 65% success rate. Stolen-base profiency is still a topic of debate, but most research shows that a 65% success rate won't add much, if anything, to your team's chance of winning — not exactly what Finely had in mind when he signed the speedster. Most notably, Washington was picked off first base late in Game 2 of the 1974 World Series, the only game of that series that Oakland lost. 

Finley and the A's had apparently seen enough of Washington on this day in 1975, because they released him from his contract. Perhaps they weren't over the pickoff, or maybe they just realized a precious roster spot wasn't best spent on a designated runner. Nevertheless, Washington didn't sign elsewhere and thus never appeared in the big leagues again, cementing his place among baseball history's many oddities.

Let us ease his pain.

This Date In Transactions History: Billy Martin

George Steinbrenner believed that April is not too soon to fire a manager, apparently. Because on this day in 1985, the late owner dismissed skipper — and Yankees legend — Yogi Berra after a sluggish 6-10 start, in favor of Billy Martin, another former Yankees great. Martin's intensity was in, and Berra's ease and charm was out.

Martin's hiring marked his fourth stint as Yankees manager — and there would later be a fifth, incredibly. But for all the on-again-off-again drama, the move worked. The notoriously fiery Martin reversed the Bombers' fortunes, guiding them to a 97-64 finish in the old AL East, although that was only good enough for a second-place finish behind the frontrunning Blue Jays, as the Wild Card(s) didn't exist back in that Stone Age. Subtract Berra's 6 wins and 10 losses from that final record, and you're left with an impressive 91 wins and 54 losses under Martin's stewardship — 37 games over .500.

Of course, we now know managers only influence their teams' records so much, excepting for absurd ineptitude, and it's worth mentioning that Martin had plenty of talent on his roster. The 1985 Bombers had a few star-caliber players in Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield, as well as a handful of strong complementary types like Willie Randolph. The big three combined for 20.4 WAR, according to FanGraphs, while the pitching staff was led by Ron Guidry (5.1 WAR) and a strong bullpen.

Despite the relative turnaround, things didn't end well for the Yanks. Martin's confrontational style got the best of him during a disappointing September stretch run, when was involved in an off-field fight with pitcher Ed Whitson that resulted in Martin suffering a broken arm.

With his Yankees having fallen short of the postseason, Martin's antics were difficult for Steinbrenner to digest, and he was once again fired in the offseason. Of course, Martin would return again, in 1988, his final year as a manager before his death on Christmas Day in 1989.