This may be a bit of a cheat on the “this date” headline but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bent the rules at Thanksgiving — it’s anything goes when my family plays our post-dinner game of Rummoli. (Nothing says Thanksgiving like bluffing your grandma out of a nickel.) Here are some of the notable transactions that have occurred both on November 26th and also transactions that took place on past Thanksgiving Days…
2014: It was a year ago today that the Diamondbacks signed Cuban star Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5MM contract that contained a player opt-out clause after the fourth season. Between defensive struggles and a .273/.305/.401 line with nine homers over 426 PA, Tomas posted a below-replacement -1.3 fWAR in 2015. Arizona signed Tomas without having a clear idea of where he would play, and a year later, that’s still an open question — Tomas struggled badly at third and the corner outfield spots have now been filled by David Peralta and Ender Inciarte. Tomas will get his share of at-bats against southpaws since both Peralta and Inciarte are left-handed hitters, but the D’Backs certainly expected more from their investment than a platoon bat. It’s still too early to render a verdict, however, since Tomas just turned 25 and should now be more fully acclimated to American baseball.
2012: Three years ago today, the Rays made an even bigger commitment to the face of their franchise by agreeing to a contract extension with Evan Longoria. The Rays guaranteed (and increased the value of) three club option years for 2014-16 they held on Longoria from his pre-existing contract, paid him a $1MM signing bonus, then guaranteed him $94MM covering the 2017-22 seasons. Tampa also has a $13MM club option on Longoria for 2023 with a $5MM buyout, which made the total value of the extension worth $100MM in new money for Longoria. It was a surprising deal at the time since Longoria was coming off an injury-shortened season and because the low-payroll Rays had never splurged on a nine-figure contract. Longoria posted superstar numbers over his first six seasons but has slowed down over the last two years, hitting .261/.324/.419 with 44 homers over 1370 PA in 2014-15. If Longoria is already slowing down as he enters his age-30 season, this contract could end up being a major albatross for the revenue-strapped Rays.
2005: One of the biggest blockbuster trades of the 21st century was finalized on Thanksgiving Day 2005 when the Marlins traded Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota to the Red Sox in exchange for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and right-handers Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia. The Marlins were eager to move Beckett and Lowell for payroll reasons, and they ended up hitting it big on their haul of minor leaguers as Ramirez lived up his reputation as a blue chip prospect and Sanchez eventually developed into a big piece of the Marlins rotation. Beckett had something of an up-and-down tenure in Boston that saw him generate 14 WAR from 2007-09 but also featured a couple of rough seasons and a role in the infamous “chicken and beer” controversy that clouded their 2011 September collapse. Lowell was coming off a down year in 2005 but rebounded for four more good seasons with the Red Sox. The trade became an instant win for the Red Sox in 2007 when they won the World Series, with Lowell being named Series MVP and Beckett winning the ALCS MVP Award in the previous postseason round.
2005: Only the Marlins would finalize two payroll-slashing mega-trades on the same Thanksgiving. The Marlins’ swap of Carlos Delgado to the Mets for Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs and minor league infielder Grant Psomas was also made official ten years ago today. (The Fish also sent along $7MM to help cover some of the $48MM remaining on Delgado’s contract.) Delgado hit .267/.351/.506 with 104 homers as a Met in what ended up being the last four years of his Major League career. The Marlins’ return wasn’t quite as impressive in this trade, though Jacobs had some solid power numbers in his three years in Florida. Psomas never reached the bigs and Petit only had one season as a Marlin. Petit never truly established himself until emerging as a dominant swingman option for the Giants in recent years.
1997: The Blue Jays signed Randy Myers to a three-year, $18MM free agent contract on this day 18 years ago, signing the former Nasty Boy away from their division rival in Baltimore in the wake of Myers’ excellent 1.51 ERA, 45-save season with the Orioles in 1997. Myers wasn’t nearly as effective in Toronto, however, posting a 4.46 ERA and just a 6.5 K/9 over 56 2/3 innings as a Jay. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, they were able to unload Myers to the Padres in a waiver deal in August 1998. San Diego only put in the claim to block Myers from going to Atlanta and didn’t actually plan on landing the reliever (or his remaining salary). Myers didn’t pitch again after 1998 due to injury, so the Padres ended up paying him over $13MM in 1999-2000 with no return on their investment.