Today marks the middle of December. Thus far the Indians have signed a couple position players for depth, and added a new closer, but they've yet to make any trades. Drew Stubbs seems like the most-likely candidate to be moved this month, as it doesn't look like there would be much playing time for him, and he's good enough to have some value to certain other teams, but whether anything happens remains to be seen. This has been one of the Tribe's busier months for trading over the last quarter-century though, as they've made at least one deal in a majority of the last 25 Decembers. Many of those deals didn't lead to much (such is baseball), but I thought it would be fun to revisit the ten most-notable ones (in chronological order).
Top Tribe trades of the last 25 years
This move sent my first favorite Indian away. It being 1988 and me being 8, I didn't actually find out about it until April, but I was bummed. The three seasons following this deal were the best of Franco's career, so I think it's fair to call this one a big disappointment for the Tribe.
Carter had some good years left in him, but Alomar and Baerga each become major contributors during the Tribe's turnaround during the 90s, so this one work out very well for Cleveland.
Other reads from Let's Go Tribe
Other reads from Let's Go Tribe
I looked at this one in some depth on its anniversary last week. It was one of the best trades in franchise history for the Indians.
Fermin had always been a dreadful hitter, and he had negative overall value after this trade, while Jefferson had a few decent seasons. Vizquel though, was one of the best defensive shortstops ever, and while with the Indians he won 8 Gold Gloves and also collected 1,616 hits.
Williams had been a solid player for the Tribe in 1997, his only season with the team, but Fryman was three years younger. Fryman went on to be the better player in the years that followed (though not by any substantial margin).
December 8, 1997: The Indians traded Mike Fetters to the Oakland Athletics for Steve Karsay.
This was basically part of a three-team trade, technically completed as two separate deals. On the same day, Fetters had been acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers. Karsay was the most substantial piece the Tribe got back. He was the team's best reliever in 1999 and served as closer for much of 2000
That is a whole lot of names, most of whom never accomplished all that much in MLB. Lawton was the only one to do much for the Indians, providing not quite average production from a corner outfielder for 3 years. Not much of a return for one of the best 2B of his era, but Alomar's play really fell off after this deal, so there wasn't any real harm done for the Tribe.
Pronk! Diaz was a solid catcher, made expendable by Victor Martinez flying through the minors and quickly becoming a great player. Hafner became the best hitter the Indians have had during the 2000s.
December 11, 2008: As part of a 3-team trade, the Indians sent Franklin Gutierrez to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners sent Sean Green, J.J. Putz, and Jeremy Reed to the New York Mets. The Mets sent Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, Maikel Cleto, Aaron Heilman, and Jason Vargas to the Mariners. The Mets sent Joe Smith to the Indians. The Mariners sent Luis Valbuena to the Indians.
Gutierrez had one fantastic season for Seattle after this trade, but has struggled to stay healthy over the last three years. Meanwhile, Smith was probably the Tribe's best reliever over those three seasons (collectively), so this one worked out fairly well.
December 11, 2012: As part of a 3-team trade, the Indians sent Lars Anderson, and Tony Sipp to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and sent Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds sent Didi Gregorius to the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks sent Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw to the Indians. The Reds sent Drew Stubbs to the Indians.
Some of the shine has come off Bauer in the year since this trade was made, but he's still young enough to develop into the great pitcher he was once viewed as. Choo was great in 2013, but he would have left after that season anyway, and Stubbs and Shaw both provided some value (not as much as Choo, but some) so even if Bauer doesn't turn into a valuable player, this one can't hurt the team much. We'll see...
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There you have it. Only one trade that really blew up in the Tribe's face, and that one was 25 years ago. On the other hand, some of the biggest contributors of the last quarter-century were acquired in a December trade. We'll see if the next two weeks being anything.