Yesterday we looked at the best gifts the Reds have received via December trades, and as promised, today we’re going to look at the best gifts the Reds have given other teams in December.
To recap: I decided to examine every December trade in Reds franchise history, and then look up how much WAR each player accumulated after the trade.
According to my research the Reds have made 108 December trades, involving 319 players since 1900. A staggering 230 of the 319 players (72.1%) didn’t achieve a WAR of over two either with the Reds or after they were traded from the Reds. On the opposite end of the spectrum only 27 of the 319 players (8.4%) achieved a WAR over 10 either with the Reds or after they were traded.
On the positive side the Reds received players like Jose Rijo, Hal Morris, and Bob Purkey via December trades. As you’ll see below the Reds have been much more generous to opposing teams than they were to the Reds.
December 9th, 1965: Reds trade Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas, and Dick Simpson
This one hurts. Frank Robinson was the star of Cincinnati in the early sixties, but the team desperately needed pitching. They dealt for Pappas, who at just 26 years old had already won 110 games and attended two all star games. Sadly, Pappas only last two and a half years in Cincinnati before being dealt Atlanta. He was average on the mound for the Reds, but became extremely unpopular amongst the fans, press, and front office. By the time he was traded to Atlanta he was openly predicting it was coming.
Frank Robinson just never stopped being Frank Robinson. He went to Baltimore and won the AL MVP in his first season by leading the league in home runs, runs scored, RBI, OBP, Slugging, and OPS. He didn’t really slow down until 1974, at the age of 38 years old.
In the end, Robinson would accumulate 43.5 WAR, while Pappas, Baldschun, and Simpson would combine for just 5.3 WAR while with the Reds.
December 5th, 1957: Reds trade Curt Flood and Joe Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marty Kutyna, Willard Schmidt, and Ted Wieand
Curt Flood to the Cardinals didn’t stir up much interest at the 1957 winter meetings. The Cincinnati Enquirer quotes a ‘veteran observer’ as saying “It’s a deal that hurts both clubs”. The trade didn’t stir up much coverage in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch either. At the time, Flood was just 19 years old and only had eight big league at bats under his belt.
It took a few years, but by 1963 it was obvious the Reds had made a huge mistake. Flood blossomed into one of the best outfielders in baseball. He won a gold glove seven years in a row and finished in the Top 25 of MVP voting six times. Meanwhile, Kutyna, Schmidt, and Wieand barely made an impact on the Reds. Schmidt had the most success, but he simply provided a couple of a decent years of relief help before retiring after the 1959 season.
The final tally ended up, Flood 41.7 WAR, Kutyna, Schmidt, and Wieand a combined 1.6 WAR.
December 4th, 1964: Reds trade Cesar Tovar to the Minnesota Twins for Gerry Arrigo
A year before Bill DeWitt traded away Frank Robinson, he made another disastrous move by trading away Cesar Tovar to the Twins for Gerry Arrigo. Imagine a late sixties Reds team with Tovar, Robinson, and Curt Flood.
Arrigo was an average relief pitcher for the Reds, while Tovar went to Minnesota and became a versatile star that somehow finished in the Top 25 in MVP voting five times, but never made an all star game. His best season was 1968 when he batted .272, stole 35 bases, and played literally every position - including pitcher - for the Twins.
Ultimately, he’d end up with 28.1 WAR, while Arrigo would generate just 2.3 WAR.
December 21st, 2007: Reds trade Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for Danny Herrera and Edinson Volquez
“The centerfield position is up for grabs. Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said Bruce, Ryan Freel, Norris Hopper, and Chris Dickerson would be in the mix”.
It’s a statement that makes Reds fans want to bang their head against a table in retrospect. The idea that Jay Bruce would play centerfield — centerfield! — or that Ryan Freel, Norris Hopper, or Chris Dickerson could be a worthy replacement for Josh Hamilton. Unfortunately, that was the thinking in December 2007 after the reds traded Hamilton for pitching.
The Reds certainly needed pitching, and Volquez certainly gave the Reds one quality season, but it all fell apart soon after. Hamilton went on a five year run of dominance, including a 2010 season where he hit .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBI, and ultimately won the AL MVP award.
Volquez ended up with just 4.3 WAR over four seasons, while Hamilton has 25.6 WAR since leaving the Reds.
Those are some of the highlights, other notable December trades include:
- Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger, Yonder Alonso, and Edinson Volquez for Mat Latos (-11.4 WAR and counting).
- Justin Turner, Brandon Waring, and Ryan Freel for Ramon Hernandez (-12.4 WAR and counting).
- David Wells for Trovin Valdez and Curtis Goodwin (-28.2 WAR)
- John Wetteland and Bill Risley for Willie Greene, Dave Martinez, and Scott Ruskin (-19.1 WAR)
- Tom Seaver for Jason Felice and Lloyd McClendon (-14.4 WAR)
- Shane Rawley for Dave Collins (-14.5 WAR)
The astute Reds fan might be asking ‘but what about Amos Rusie for Christy Mathewson?’ right about now. More on that tomorrow when we examine whether or not the Reds actually did trade Christy Mathewson for Amos Rusie back in 1900. If so, it would rank as one of the worst deals in franchise - and baseball - history. Rusie generated just (-0.7) WAR for the Reds, while Mathewson ended up with 94.3 after 1900. Check Red Reporter tomorrow for the full story.