Long has the MLB trade deadline solidified, or dissolved, a ball club’s chances of winning their league’s pennant. Sometimes, a hot club can receive a final missing piece in a good trade, or a mediocre team can suddenly work well as a unit with the addition of a single man, as the second half of the season gets into full swing. Likewise, a flop of a trade can seal a club’s fate in what ultimately turns out to be a trip to the divisional cellar and an early retirement to the couch in September.
The Dodgers have historically been major players in deadline trades. Many of these trades have either had a tremendous impact in a postseason run, or, at the least, did not particularly sink the club in the long run. Some trades, however, have left a number of LA’s general managers over the past 25 years looking downright remorseful, as they were introduced to the cruel and unforgiving reality of hindsight.
We take a look at five of the most unpopular Los Angeles Dodgers trades over the past 25 years.
5. RF Shawn Green to Arizona Diamondbacks for C Dioner Navarro, 2005
A big part of the reason GM Paul DePodesta sent Shawn Green to Arizona was because he felt the outfielder, who had absolutely explosive back-to-back seasons in 2001 and 2002, was overpaid. Therefore, it only made sense to pick up a guy the Yankees wanted to get rid of, due to his lack of work ethic. The Dodgers sent $8 million to the Diamondbacks along with Green, whose numbers were still impressive, despite being down from 2001-02, through which he smacked 91 homers and 350 RBI. Even though Green’s numbers continued to naturally decline in the twilight of his career, Navarro, in his first stint with the Dodgers, hit three homers and nine doubles through his 48 hits in 50 games.
4. 1B Paul Konerko to Cincinnati Reds for P Jeff Shaw, 1998
Dodger fans who truly bleed blue will always have a unique love for Tommy Lasorda. That being said, his brief tour as General Manger in the late ’90s ensured that the Dodger faithful would always appreciate his years as manager. In 1998, Lasorda traded first baseman Paul Konerko, along with pitcher Dennys Reyes, to the Reds for closer Jeff Shaw. Granted, Konerko was in the middle of his rookie campaign in the majors at the time of the trade, and there had been little to predict the enormous offensive player he would become, but the trade would ultimately tip the scales heavily away from Dodger favor. Konerko became a 4-time All-Star, including a 2006 season in Chicago in which he hit .313 with 35 home runs, 113 RBI and 97 runs scored. Shaw would finish his career in LA, posting solid numbers in 1998 and 1999, before his numbers dipped in the final two seasons of his career, despite an All-Star election in 2001.
3. 1B Eric Karros & INF Mark Grudzielanek to Chicago Cubs for C Todd Hundley & OF Chad Hermansen, 2002
GM Dan Evans sent Karros, who still has the third most homers in Dodger history (270), along with utility man Mark Grudzielanek, to Chicago for injury-ridden catcher Todd Hundley and outfielder Chad Hermansen. While Hundley, of course, struggled with injuries, managing a .182 batting average through just 21 games in 2003, Hermansen hit .222 while appearing in a whopping 11 games of his own. Meanwhile, Karros ended up hitting .286 with 12 homers and 40 RBI. While Karros’ numbers were far below those of his 1999 season, in which he hit 34 home runs and knocked in 112 runs with a .304 average, Grudzielanek posted a .314 batting average through 121 games with Chicago, and would go on to win a Gold Glove Award in 2006.
2. C Paul Lo Duca, P Guillermo Mota, OF Juan Encarnacion to Florida Marlins for P Brad Penny & 1B Hee Seop Choi
One of the most unfortunate and puzzling trades, as far as Los Angeles is concerned. Paul Lo Duca, who had led the Dodgers in an impressive first half of 2004, was sent to Florida by the eternally unpopular Paul DePodesta. A fan favorite, as well as a leader in the clubhouse, the Brooklyn-native Lo Duca provided an identity for the Dodgers they had long lacked. Mota, whose value was at its highest at the time of his trade and was wasted if you’re a Dodger fan, had been a key piece in the LA bullpen as the setup man for Eric Gagne. In return, Brad Penny managed just a pair of starts in 2004 before a season-ending injury. On a high note, Hee Seop Choi ended up hitting more home runs in the Home Run Derby than any other Dodger ever has! See Top 5 Worst Dodger Home Run Derby Appearances.
1. P Pedro Martinez to Montreal Expos for 2B Delino DeShields, 1994
This trade made absolutely no sense, and General Manager Fred Claire will long be remembered as the man who signed off on what would be one of the most lopsided, unbalanced trades in baseball history. After an impressive rookie season, in which Martinez earned a 10-5 record, he was sent to the Expos in exchange for second baseman Delino DeShields. In four seasons in Montreal, Martinez went 55-33, winning his first Cy Young Award in 1997, following a 17-8 record to the tune of a 1.90 ERA. Later in his great career, Pedro pitched in six All-Star games, and won two additional Cy Young Awards, and a Triple Crown in 1999. Oh, and after becoming a 5-time ERA champion, and a 3-time American League strikeout champion, he won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. He could have done it all as a Dodger. Instead, DeShields had the best of his three seasons with the Dodgers in 1995, in which he batted .256 and hit 8 homers through 127 games.