Except for a few recent trades when potential free agency and/or the desire of one club to unload a high-salaried player entered the picture, baseball deals have seldom looked too out of kilter on paper. Both teams expect to benefit; otherwise why would they swap? Because a player's performance is never a given, however, some transactions wind up unexpectedly lopsided. Writer Jim Hawkins takes a look at what he considers the game's most cockeyed trades in the latest Baseball Digest.
The most recent of these is the 1975 deal that saw Montreal send Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez to Baltimore in exchange for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins, and Bill Kirkpatrick. On the surface, Montreal didn't make out too badly. McNally, after all, had once been a consistent 20-game winner on the mound, and Coggins batted .319 in 1973. But Coggins lasted only 13 games with the Expos, McNally retired in midseason, and Kirkpatrick never made it to the majors. Singleton, meanwhile, has remained a superb hitter in Baltimore, where Torrez won 20 games before being traded and has gone on to have more good years for both the Yankees and Red Sox.
Other top-heavy deals on the list are:
* The Cubs' trade of Lou Brock to St. Louis for Ernie Broglio in 1964. (Broglio won seven games over the next two seasons; Brock, baseball's all-time base thief, helped the Cardinals to three pennants.)
* The Mets' trade of Amos Otis to Kansas City for Joe Foy in 1970. (Foy spent another undistinguished season and a half in baseball before retiring; Otis has been a fixture in center field for the Royals ever since.)
* The Giants' trade of George Foster to Cincinnati for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert in 1971. (Foster, now with the Mets, has emerged as a perennial slugger; Duffy hit only .179 with San Francisco and was shipped to Cleveland, while Geishert never made the parent club.)