When the Yanks almost traded Jorge Posada

Bidding farewell to Ian Patrick Kennedy
Open Thread: The night of tenders

So here’s a fun little bit of Yankee history for you: In December 1995, the Yankees tried to trade Jorge Posada and could not. When the Yankees were negotiated with the Mariners over Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada was originally in the deal. The Mariners, Jack Curry reported on Dec. 5, 1995, did not want to give up Jeff Nelson and Tino Martinez for Sterling Hitchcock and Jorge Posada. The Yanks, meanwhile, were hesitant to include Russ Davis in the deal. Eventually, Hitchcock and Davis, but not Jorge, went west. I’d say the Yanks made a good choice.

Three weeks later, though, George Steinbrenner personally tried to off-load Posada, and this time, the Yanks got lucky. As Murray Chass reported on Dec. 27, 1995, the Boss who desperately wanted David Wells called then-Reds GM Jim Bowden to offer him Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera for the larger-than-life lefty. Bowden decided he preferred Curtis Goodwin. A bad move by the Reds turned into a great one for the Yanks. (Hat tip to Bryan Hoch.)

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Bidding farewell to Ian Patrick Kennedy
Open Thread: The night of tenders
  • Kyle

    holy canoli. unbelievable

  • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

    Yeah, I grew up in the greater Cincinnati area and was a Reds fan until 2005-06. I hated Jim Bowden.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      To be honest, the Rivera/Posada report is somewhat apocryphal. Steinbrenner supposedly made that offer over the objections of Bob Watson and Gene Michael.

  • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “… the Boss who desperately wanted David Wells called then-Reds GM Jim Bowden to offer him Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera for the larger-than-life lefty.”

    When we lionize GMS3 all I ask is that we also remember the flip-side of his reign, of which this is one of the more benign transgressions. F*cking yikes.

    • X

      Boss: “i apologize for my transgressions”

  • Neil B.

    Trading the greatest closer of all time for the greatest eater baseball ever saw. . .yeah, I’d say the Yankees got lucky alright.

    Waiting for the official non-tender news on Wang, which means everyone else stays on and the Yankees have just around $10 million to spend this offseason – just enough to bring Matsui and maybe an Escobar/Duchscherer reclamation type.

    And that, ladies and gents, is your 2010 Yankees. Unless the Royals/White Sox swoop in and offer a useful bullpen piece for Brett Gardner, which might open up a bench spot for Senor Miranda.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Please review the commenting guidelines. Posting one on-topic sentence doesn’t get around our rule about off-topic comments.

      We’ll have an open thread at 7 p.m. as we always do and the non-tender news as soon as possible. There’s also a thread about Wang from earlier in the day.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Trading the greatest closer of all time for the greatest eater baseball ever saw. . .yeah, I’d say the Yankees got lucky alright.

      David Wells is not the greatest eater baseball ever saw.

      That’s Raul Mondesi.

      • DP

        Dioner Navarro!!!11!1

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    I want whatever Daddy Steinbrenner was having, he must have been soooooo high to even consider that.

    • Dan2

      to offer a failed starter (who happened to become the greatest closer of all time) and a catching prospect who wasn’t that highly regarded?

      While in hindsight this deal seems absurd to even offer, at the time Rivera was nothing special (and unproven) and Posada was not projected to have a career as good as he has. The deal would have been bad, but at the time it wouldn’t of seemed awful, hence why the other GM denied it.

      • OldYanksFan

        “to offer a failed starter (who happened to become the greatest closer of all time) and a catching prospect who wasn’t that highly regarded?”

        “this is the sort of story that makes me nervous about giving up ajax and ipk”

        This is the problem with the Yankees and their money. They never take the time to develop their youth long enough to know what they have.

        Mantle had struggles early on. Would George and Co. have traded him away?

        Mo, Po, Cano, Wang and God knows who else were all traded away but fortunately turned down by the buyers. George tried to dump Pettitte too, although not as a youngster. I’ve read about Mo, Po and Cano before, but reading it again makes me sick to my stomach.

        And are there still some of you who are ready to trade Joba and Montero for a 33 year old Halliday?

        Mayne…. just maybe…. just because they are ours and we don’t know yet, maybe it’s reason enough to just keep them.

        • Richard Deegan

          The other George (Weiss) sure did. A nice piece on THT about the ’56 Yankees has a great analysis of the thinking that went into dumping Lew Burdette, Vic Power, Jackie Jensen and quite a few more.

  • Tseng

    Yeah I much prefer George as the benevolent off-camera godfather. I sure hope he’s still healthy enough to understand everything that’s going on, though.

  • dkidd

    this is the sort of story that makes me nervous about giving up ajax and ipk

    if rab existed in 12/95, i can see myself saying “it hurts to give up rivera, but his ceiling projection is david well RIGHT NOW…”

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      That risk is there in every trade though. Remember Ricky Ledee and Jake Westbrook for David Justice? Or Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton for Chuck Knoblauch?

      • dkidd

        i love the granderson trade, this story is just a great reminder that player evaluation is a high stakes crap shoot

        how many gm’s have looked like geniuses or idiots based on a player (ryne sandberg etc) blossoming unexpectedly?

      • anon

        Supposedly could have had Johan for Wang and IPK… that deal is looking pretty good right now.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Except no we couldn’t have. That was never a deal on the table. That was a deal created by fans.

          • Steve H

            Of course not. We all know it was IPK+Melky.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            And frankly, even if that deal WAS on the table (IPK, Wang, and relative non-pieces for Santana), we don’t know that taking it would have been a good thing.

            Getting Santana would have most assuredly meant not getting Sabathia, and even if that’s the only ripple effect (and it probably wouldn’t be, because the prospect loss in that trade maybe means that the Granderson or Swisher or Nady/Marte trades doesn’t happen, for example), having Wang/IPK AND Sabathia is most definitely better than having Santana and no Wang/IPK.

            Hell, having Sabathia over Santana is better, irrespective of Wang and IPK.

            • radnom


              Hell, having Sabathia over Santana is better, irrespective of Wang and IPK.

              True, if we can assume some mystical forsight that including Wang was worth it then that same ability would also show that it would be better just to wait for Sabbathia.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                Exactly. But, it’s not even about foresight. Back when the Santana negotiations were proceeding, there were already aging/velocity/durability questions about Santana that gave us pause about surrendering prospects for him, concerns that have been proven valid with an extra two years of evidence.

                And, back when the Santana negotiations were proceeding, there was already plenty of evidence than Sabathia was a horse without the Santana decline questionmarks.

                Waiting to get Sabathia instead of trading for Santana wasn’t just about “mystical” foresight, it was about actual tangible foresight-based decision making.

                • radnom


                  Waiting to get Sabathia instead of trading for Santana wasn’t just about “mystical” foresight, it was about actual tangible foresight-based decision making.

                  Oh, I agree when you are talking about the cost of Santana vs. the signs of aging. It was the right choice then as well.

                  However, it isn’t like Sabbathia was guaranteed to be available and willing to sign with us in a year and a half. It was likely, and ended up working out that way, but there was risk with that option as well.

          • radnom


            Except no we couldn’t have. That was never a deal on the table. That was a deal created by fans.

            Only because at the time the Yankees would not offer that. Values change, and at the time Joba, Cano and Wang seemed to be in the “asked for but not offered” category, IPK and Melky seemed to be available and Hughes was somewhere in the middle, the organization was probably split on whether adding him would be a good idea.

            There is no way to know for sure, but you would have to think a Wang/IPK/Melky/+ package would have been difficult for the Twins to turn down for the package they took, and much better than the highest confirmed offer from the Yankees.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              But that’s an ex post rationale for a move you have to evaluate from an ex ante perspective. Now, that would have been a great deal, but that’s a dangerous game to play.

              • radnom

                Agreed, although if you look at TSJC’s comment (and my response) even if you do evaluate it from that perspective it may not have been such a great deal.

                All I was getting at was that I think the original author was correct – we probably could have had Johan had we included Wang. Not doing so, however, was definitely the best choice at the time (and, I think, in the long run).

                • anon

                  Yeah, the point I was really trying to get at is that you really never know. Wang was a great piece at time, but a couple injuries later and he’s non-tendered. A stark refusal to give up prospects (and I’ve read a lot of opinions realting that) is not always a sound strategy. What happens if Montero pulls an Eric Duncan, and Halladay goes on to win a couple Cy Youngs in the next few years? The flip side is of course the opposite, but I think close-mindedness about offering up prospects is really ignorant.

          • Ed

            Actually, Buster Olney threw that idea out there. Claims the Twins requested Wang/IPK right before pulling the trigger with the Mets.

            Doesn’t seem like a fan idea, as most fans would realize that trading two cheap pitchers who currently fill two spots in your rotation for one really expensive one makes it hard to fill a rotation.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              Mmm. Thanks. I stand corrected. I wonder if (a) what else was involved and (b) how concrete a request that was from the Twins.

              I do think you’re giving fans too much credit there though! I’ve seen crazier proposals than that one.

        • OldYanksFan

          The only deal offered was Hughes, IPK, Melky and one other prospect. Fortunately Cashman pulled it before whats-his-face changed his mind.

          With all the Money with have for FAs, why trade any good youth at all? Granderson costs $8.5m/yr. So for another $8-$9.5m, we could have Holliday. The Formula is:

          Holliday + AJax + IPK + Coke >?< Granderson + $9m/yr.
          Which of thise do you prefer?

  • Januz

    The most interesting comments about Posada came from Harold Reynolds, who felt he was the best catcher of the decade, and a possible Hall Of Famer (The named Piazza the best on “Prime 9″).

    • SheldonCooperPHD

      I’ve heard the posada/mo offer never really existed either. Imagine that, two potential HoF’ers for Wells.

      And Posada certainly is going to be an interesting and viable HoF case. The debates over the issue even from a year or two ago were pretty divided at places like BBTF and others.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    The Wells non-trade is yet another example of why it’s unwise to trade good prospects for an ace a year away from free agency.

    We passed on the chance to add Wells for the 1996 season (at the cost of Mo and Posada), and then, a year later, he hit free agency and we instantly had Wells AND Mo and Posada.

    Oh, and we won the 1996 title without Wells, despite the fact that we had a relatively young and unproven 23 year old rookie in Andy Pettitte who was given the 5th starter spot with little-to-no-depth behind him. Would it have made us stronger to have traded for Wells and moved Pettitte back to the bullpen? Sure.

    But, we showed patience, gambled that we had a good enough 1996 team without Wells, won a title without him, and then signed him and ended up with a ridiculously deep team that won three titles in three straight years after a one year hiccup.

    Patience >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> impatience

    • radnom

      I think what it shows is

      getting lucky off your ass >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> everything else.

      Yes there are good decisions and bad decisions, and some teams are better at prospect evaluation that others, but it really is such a crapshoot, you can only hope to maximize your odds to be slightly better then hope for the best.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        But as Ben said above, the non-trade may not be merely “luck”.

        http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-715411

        It’s not like we unanimously wanted the trade to happen, made a concrete offer, and we were thwarted. It’s possible that the offer was never truly made, there were just competing forces inside the organization that pushed for an offer to be made (Stein) countermanded by forces that objected (Watson/Michael) and that the whole thing was a rumor, like the various non-offers for Santana.

        Whatevs.

        • radnom

          That specific non-trade.

          What about the Posada/Martinez trade?

          Or was it the Randy Johson trade that originally included Cano/Wang but the Diamond Backs changed who they wanted?

          Obviously any discussion along this line is difficult considering the fact that we can never know all the details 100%.

  • Trey Michael

    There is absolutely NO truth to that trade proposal. George, Brian and Jim all denied it then and all three said it NEVER happened. Funny, how people make stuff up. Bowden was just dumping Wells $$$ for Marge according to Gillicks comments.

  • crawdaddie

    For the most part, George was an awful GM which is why the Yankees are in a better spot now with Hal and his siblings in charge while Cashman heads up the baseball operations.

  • steve (different one)

    i thought the story was that George offered Mariano to the TIGERS for Wells??

  • Whizzo the Wize

    Whizzo loves the fighting spirit and open wallet of Mr. Steinbrenner.

    Whizzo also acknowledges that Mr. Steinbrenner was an occasional idiot.

  • steve (different one)

    another story about Mo almost going to Seattle for Felix Fermin:

    http://www.yanksblog.com/item/.....lix-fermin

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