Every GM has a “the one that got away” story if they’ve been on the job long enough, and Mike Lowell is that guy for Brian Cashman. It was the 1998-1999 offseason and the Yankees had just won 114 games and their second World Championship in three years, but more importantly Scott Brosius just wrapped up a .300/.371/.472 inaugural campaign in pinstripes. He signed a fat new three-year contract after the season, rendering Lowell useless. Thirteen years ago today, Cashman traded the 24-year-old third baseman to the Marlins for a trio of pitching prospects: Todd Noel, Mark Johnson, and Ed Yarnall.
Noel was the 17th overall pick in the 1996 draft and had been traded to the Marlins for Felix Heredia (hah!) at the 1998 trade deadline. He started the 1999 season with High-A Tampa, then blew out his arm and was never heard from again. Johnson was the 19th overall pick in the 1996 draft, and had been traded to Florida before the 1998 season as part of the package for Moises Alou. He opened the 1999 season in Double-A, got hurt, then got drafted by the Tigers in the Rule 5 Draft after the season. He threw 24 ineffective innings for Detroit in 2000, got released after the season, then bounced around the minors until 2005.
Yarnall was the real prize in the trade, or at least he was supposed to be. The Mets drafted him in the third round of the 1996 draft, then traded him to the Marlins in May of 1998 as part of the package for Mike Piazza. Baseball America had rated him the 60th best prospect in the game before the season. Yarnall spent most of the 1999 season in Triple-A, though he did get called in July and then again in September. Baseball America again ranked him as one of the 100 best prospects in the game before the 2000 season (55th overall). He opened that year in Triple-A, went up-and-down a few times, then was traded to the Reds as part of the package for Denny Beagle in July. Yarnall pitched in Japan in 2001 and 2002, then spent a few years bouncing around in Triple-A before calling it quits after 2007. All 20 of his big league innings came in pinstripes.
As you know, Lowell went on to have a long and very productive career, helping the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and then winning another ring with the 2007 Red Sox. All told, he hit .279/.342/.464 with 223 homers in his 13 big league seasons, with all but eight of his 1,601 career games being played in something other than a Yankees uniform (he went 4-for-15 during a September call-up in 1998). Cashman routinely calls it his worst trade, and it’s hard to disagree considering how much value Lowell produced and how little they got back from Yarnall, Johnson, and Noel.
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Here’s your open thread for the night. The Rangers and Nets are both playing, but talk about whatever you like. Enjoy.