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Can Brian Cashman Top One of These Classic Yankees Deals at This Year's Deadline?

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Sorry, but the Yankees still need a corner outfielder as we approach deadline day. (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)
Sorry, but the Yankees still need a corner outfielder as we approach deadline day. (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

About ten years ago, I compiled a subjective list of the best Yankees trades ever. I didn't judge them by WAR in/out, although eyeballing them, you can certainly see that value was received. I intentionally left out certain transactions: deals made with Red Sox owner Harry Frazee during the 1920s (meaning no Babe Ruth -- that was a purchase and a real estate deal, not a trade), all of those less-than-arm's-length transactions conducted with the Kansas City A's during the 1950s (so no Roger Maris) and the purchase/trade of John Wetteland from the Expos, which still smells fishy all these years later--the term "fishy" used pointedly.

Looking at the last ten years of trading action, I see only three deals that might bump when of the ten trades I listed:

February 16, 2004: Traded Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (Joaquin Arias) to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez and cash.

July 30, 2006: Traded C.J. Henry (minors), Jesus Sanchez (minors), Carlos Monasterios, and Matt Smith to the Philadelphia Phillies for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle.

November 13, 2008: Traded Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez to the Chicago White Sox for Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira.

I do not include the December 8, 2009 trade for Curtis Granderson given that the Yankees gave up real value in Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. It's not a bad deal at all given how useful Granderson has been, but it probably doesn't belong among this classic ten:





January 10, 1992

2B Steve Sax to the Chicago White Sox for RHPs Melido Perez, Bob Wickman, and Domingo Jean.

On the downside of his career, Sax had lost his position to Pat Kelly. The Yankees turned the expensive infielder into three promising young righties.


November 10, 1978

LHPs Sparky Lyle and Dave Rajsich, RHP Larry McCall, C Mike Heath, INF Domingo Ramos, and cash to the Texas Rangers for LHPs Dave Righetti and Paul Mirabella, OF Juan Beniquez, RHP Mike Griffin, and OF Greg Jemison.

In long-term value this trade came down to Mike Heath for Dave Righetti. In the short-term, the Yankees gave up the decline phase of Lyle's career and a serviceable catcher who might have come in handy after the tragic events of August, 1979. Of course, there was no way anyone could have anticipated that.


December 7, 1973

RHP Lindy McDaniel to the Kansas City Royals for OF Lou Piniella and RHP Ken Wright.

McDaniel was a fine reliever, but at 38 he was nearing the end and wanted to be closer to home. A .250 season meant that former Rookie of the Year Piniella was available cheap. The Yankees would receive a .295 average from their future coach, manager, and GM over the next 1,038 games, while McDaniel retired after the 1975 season.


February 24, 1948

C Aaron Robinson, LHP Bill Wright, RHP Fred Bradley to the Chicago White Sox for LHP Ed Lopat.

Why the White Sox would have wanted to trade a durable 29 -year-old lefty starter for a 32-year-old reserve catcher will reportedly be subject of the next movie in the Indiana Jones series. Lopat went 113-59 (.657) with a 3.19 ERA through 1955.


March 22, 1972

1B Danny Cater to the Boston Red Sox for LHP Sparky Lyle.

Sox pitcher Bill Lee said that management wanted to move Lyle because he was "a "tobacco-chewing, Dewars drinking lefthander." The Yankees got all of that plus a Cy Young award and three pennants, while the Red Sox received a corner infielder who couldn't hit.


October 11, 1946

2B Joe Gordon to the Cleveland Indians for RHP Allie Reynolds.

Indians owner Bill Veeck worked this one out with Yanks managing partner Larry MacPhail in the stands during the 1946 World Series. Joe DiMaggio played a part too, telling MacPhail to stay focused on Reynolds at a moment when the mercurial owner had become interested in an inferior player. The rare trade that helped both teams, Gordon helped the Indians to the 1948 championship, while Reynolds' 131-60 record (and 41 saves) was a key factor in six Yankees' titles.


May 6, 1930

OF Cedric Durst and cash to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Red Ruffing.

Yanks Secretary (GM) Ed Barrow correctly felt that Ruffing should not be judged by his pathetic 39-96, 4.62 ERA career with a talent-depleted Red Sox team. Barrow gambled a .240-hitting reserve outfielder and came up with a pitcher who would go 231-124 for the Yankees through 1946.


November 3, 1992

OF Roberto Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for OF Paul O'Neill and first baseman Joe DeBerry.

If GM Gene Michael somehow knew that O'Neill, a .259 career hitter, would hit .303 in 1,254 games as a Yankee, then he deserves even more credit for dealing the disgruntled Kelly - a fourth outfielder on a good team - than he has already received.


November 27, 1972

C John Ellis, OFs Charlie Spikes and Rusty Torres, and infielder Jerry Kenney to the Cleveland Indians for 3B Graig Nettles and C Jerry Moses.

The Yankees sent four young players, none of whom developed, for 28-year-old slugging glove wizard Graig Nettles. Nettles would play in 1,535 games for the Yankees and hit 250 home runs.


December 11, 1975

RHP Doc Medich to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2B Willie Randolph, RHP Dock Ellis, and LHP Ken Brett.

This was the trade that prompted Pirates fans to say that Ellis was probably a better doctor than Medich too, but the real steal was the 21-year-old Randolph, the Yankee 2B for over a dozen years, acquired for a pitcher who would go 75-65 over the balance of his career.