They have been very active in recent seasons, with trades centered around Chase Headley, Luke Voit, and now Soto. It’s obviously too soon to properly evaluate what is now the most famous trade between them, but let’s examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of the remaining trade history between these two squads.
March 31, 1981: The Yankees traded Ruppert Jones, Joe Lefebvre, Tim Lollar, and Chris Welsh to the Padres for Jerry Mumphrey and John Pacella.
The 1981 Padres were going nowhere. Yes, they made a World Series just three years after that, but by 1981, they had 11 losing seasons out of 12 in the majors (they entered the league in 1969). They had a solid starting-caliber outfielder in Jerry Mumphrey, though.
Mumphrey, to that point, was basically average offensively with a 96 OPS+, but was fresh off stealing 52 bases in 1980 and hit .298 with a 108 OPS+ that year. The Yankees decided to trade for him and he had the best years of his career in pinstripes.
Mumphrey fueled a run to the pennant in 1981 and would stay in New York until he was traded in 1983. With the Yankees, he hit .293/.351/.434 with 22 home runs, 136 RBI and 27 stolen bases, plus a 121 OPS+.
The four players the Padres received from the Yankees would go on to have some sort of MLB career. Still, none of them outweighed getting Mumphrey to New York.
July 30, 2001: The Yankees traded Darren Blakely and Brett Jodie to the Padres for Sterling Hitchcock.
Hitchcock took his first steps in MLB in a Yankees uniform, as from 1992 to 1995, he was a passable starter with a 4.78 ERA. Traded in the deal that brought Tino Martinez to New York, the lefty went to Seattle and San Diego, where he won 1998 NLCS MVP and stayed until 2001. That year, the Yankees were looking for a starter at the deadline and struck a deal with the Padres. Hitchcock’s second stint with the Bombers, however, would be more chaotic.
In 10 games (nine starts) with the Yankees in 2001, he posted a 6.49 ERA in 51.1 innings. He did pitch four scoreless frames in the World Series marathon against Arizona, so we will give him that, but that’s about it.
The Yankees re-signed Hitchcock for 2002, but he continued to struggle. He started the season on the shelf, and by the time he was healthy, he didn’t have a spot in the crowded rotation; his 5.49 ERA out of the ‘pen meant that he wasn’t exactly forcing the issue. Hitchcock didn’t pitch during the ALDS loss to Anaheim, and he continued in his vague role the next year with a 5.44 ERA. Mercifully, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals that August. Back problems continually affected him in his second stint in New York, but even when he was on the mound, he was just not good.
Most Overlooked Trade
March 30, 1984: The Yankees traded Graig Nettles to the Padres for a player to be named later and Dennis Rasmussen. The San Diego Padres sent Darin Cloninger (minors) (April 26, 1984) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.
Rasmussen was actually a Yankees farmhand before going to San Diego to return to New York. The Angels sent him to the Bronx after the 1982 season, in the transaction that sent Tommy John to the LA.
Rasmussen then went to San Diego in September of 1983, as part of the John Montefusco trade. However, after he impressed that month with the Padres, the Yanks brought him back in the Graig Nettles trade. The former captain was 39 at the time, nearing the end of the line (and in a feud with George Steinbrenner), so he went home to San Diego. Rasmussen, on the other hand, was a 25-year-old starter on the upswing.
No, the post-1981 Yankees weren’t good, but Rasmussen was sneaky productive until he left the organization in 1987. In 597.1 innings, he posted a solid, if unspectacular, 4.28 ERA with 393 strikeouts. He was particularly effective in 1985-86, with a 3.91 ERA (104 ERA+) over those two years. Rasmussen was no ace, but was a solid starter who retired with a 4.15 ERA and some nice seasons.
April 22, 1997: The Yankees traded Rafael Medina, Rubén Rivera, and $3,000,000 to the Padres for players to be named later, Gordie Amerson and Homer Bush. The Padres sent Hideki Irabu (May 29, 1997) and Vernon Maxwell (June 9, 1997) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.
The circumstances in which Hideki Irabu joined the Yankees (his arrival created a precedent and eventually resulted in the implementation of the posting system) and his tenure in pinstripes were all odd.
Irabu had pitched with the Lotte Orions / Chiba Lotte Marines of the NPB from 1988 to 1996. He wanted to play with the Yankees, but his Japanese team sold him to the Padres instead.
Irabu just didn’t want to play for the Padres, so they had to work out a deal with New York. That’s how his tenure in the Bronx started: by forcing his way in in 1997. Irabu wasn’t particularly good with the Yankees, with a 4.80 ERA in three years and a series of incidents on and off the field, but did have his moments.
Other Transactions of Note
December 7, 2023: The Yankees traded Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Kyle Higashioka, Michael King, and Randy Vásquez to the Padres for Trent Grisham and Juan Soto.
No matter what the outcome of this trade turns out to be, it is absolutely a Transaction of Note. What does Soto have in store in 2024? How will the pitchers the Yankees surrendered fare? We’ll find out.
July 22, 2014: The Padres traded Chase Headley and cash to the Yankees for Jose Rafael De Paula and Yangervis Solarte.
In a deadline splash back in 2014, the Yankees were able to flip a non-roster invitee who turned out like gangbusters in Solarte for Headley, who was one of the National League’s top hitters two years prior. Even though Headley wasn’t quite that guy anymore and Solarte actually did relatively well for himself in San Diego, he still won fans over, got extended, and played on the resurgent 2017 team that came a win shy of the Fall Classic. (Oh, and he walked off his debut as well.)
July 9, 1986: The Yankees traded Ed Whitson to the Padres for Tim Stoddard.
The less said about the Ed Whitson Era, the better. At least this ended it.