The subject of whether or not Major League Baseball, and baseball in general, is a boring sport is highly contentious. It’s pacing isn’t exactly the fastest of the major sports in America and the player’s set of “unwritten rules” is archaic and off putting at best.
But if there’s one thing that MLB has over other sports, especially the NFL, is that the trades, potential trade talks, and trades that fall through are way more entertaining. That’s because most MLB trades are actually player for player trades, usually high caliber players, instead of a bunch of draft picks. That’s what happens when all the best young talent get sent to play in the minors in places like Arvada, Wyoming or Centerville, Maine for five years.
That’s not even to mention free agency, where star players are released every year due to baseballs lack of a salary cap making some guys too expensive for teams to keep. That’s something that’ll definitely come up in this article several times.
In baseball, all kinds of massive trades go down every year as teams either attempt to get better or offload talent to get worse in an attempt to save money and move up in the draft. Massive deals like the Cleveland Indians getting Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore for relatively nothing or Mark McGwire getting shipped off to St. Louis is relatively commonplace in a season.
By the time I’m finished writing this article, The Angels could be sending Mike Trout to the Mariners for Felix Hernandez and a box of Cracker Jacks. And if free agency were going on right now, the Pirates could be cutting loose Andrew McCutchen right about now
So with that in mind, let’s speed this up and get on to the list. Here are the Top 15 Players Who Almost Played For Different Teams.
10 Jake Peavy Was Almost Traded to Cubs
You might have forgotten about Jake Peavy in recent years, but back in 2009 he was seen as a potentially all-time great, young pitcher. He won a Cy Young Award two years prior, but by the time 2009 came around, he was struggling. Since the Padres were paying him so much money, they decided to ship him off to Chicago.
In what would have been a blockbuster four team trade, Peavy would have went to the Cubs, Mark DeRosa to the Phillies, J.A. Happ to the Padres, and Felix Pie to the Orioles. You might think Pie was the weak link that brought the whole thing down, but it actually fell apart due to Jason Marquis. Neither the Phillies nor Orioles wanted to pay his salary so the deal fell through. Felix Pie did end up getting traded to the Orioles however, go figure.
Peavy did end up in Chicago later that season, but instead of the Cubs, it was the White Sox.
14. David Price’s 2015 Free Agency
When David Price hit free agency at the end of 2015, he was one of the most sought after players available. It was his first time on the open market after getting drafted, then traded twice. He was going to live it up as best he could. And he did, eventually signing a massive seven year deal with the Red Sox.
But the former Cy Young winner had plenty of options. Among the teams who drew interest were the Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants, but also the Cubs. Rumors suggest that Price was most interested in signing with the Cubs, as he valued “comfort” above other factors and he found the most comfort in Chicago. The Red Sox were called a “hard sell” give Price’s history with David Ortiz.
It’s hard to say just how serious the Cubs were in acquiring Price, but with a talent like him you have to figure they were very interested. At the end of the day, the Red Sox offer was just too much for Price to pass up.
9 Epic Yankees/Braves 10 Player Trade
Earlier just this month, news broke of a massive trade that would have gone down during the 2014/15 offseason between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. The deal would have been a true blockbuster, both in terms of number of players and the talent involved.
In all, ten players would have been swapped in total. The Yankees would give away relative unknowns like Aaron Judge, Manny Banuelos, Ian Clarkin, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. In exchange, the Braves would give up Jason Heyward, Melvin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, and David Carpenter.
Severino and Judge are considered the top prospects in the Yankees Minor League system, and the Braves – following their policy of dumping big named/highly payed players – were hoping Heyward and Upton would convince the Yankees to trade them.
The deal didn’t go through because Heyward only had one deal remaining on his contract and the Yankees didn’t want to risk losing him after one season, or make him the highest paid player in baseball.
12. Zack Greinke Doesn’t Sign with Giants
Pitcher Zack Greinke seems to change teams as often as someone who eats at Taco Bell changes their pants. In 2015, Greinke was a free agent for just the second time in his career, and just like Price, he was living it up. He ended up signing with the Diamondbacks, who appeared out of nowhere at the last minute to snatch the star pitcher up. He almost resigned with the Dodgers as well.
However, those weren’t Greinke’s only options. A third option emerged in the form of the San Francisco Giants, hoping to boost their fast eroding pitching staff. It was reported that after missing on Jon Lester the previous season, the Giants were willing to spend quite a pretty penny to land a top-tier pitcher. Greinke notoriously doesn’t like staying in any one place too long and the Giants were willing to offer him a short-term deal that would pay higher than a long-term contract.
We’re not sure how seriously Greinke considered the Giants, as he reportedly was about to re-sign with the Dodgers before the Diamondbacks made their offer last minute.
11. Pedro Martinez Wanted to Be Yankee
The greatest cliché in professional sports is the young kid who dreams of playing for the New York Yankees. One such player, who almost got their wish several times, was former Red Sock pitcher Pedro Martinez.
"I was almost traded to New York more than once. A lot of people don't know that. I wanted the trade to happen. […] I wanted to go to the best team out there,” Martinez told the Daily News. “I was in trade talks every year. Every year it seemed like the Yankees were in it.”
Martinez doesn’t list any specific examples, but he was traded multiple times in his career, including to the Montreal Expos and then to the Boston Red Sox. Interestingly, he had a chance to sign with the team in 2005 when he became a free agent, but signed with New York’s other team instead.
10. John Elway Playing for the Yankees?
Professional athletes playing multiple sports is nothing new. Everyone from Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson did it, and even modern players like Russell Wilson have tried. But one star NFL QB almost played baseball instead of football because he didn’t like where he was drafted.
John Elway infamously didn’t want to be drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but he was anyway. He threatened to not play in the NFL at all and play in the MLB, but did you know that was no empty threat?
He was drafted by the Yankees in 1981 and ended up playing in the minor leagues in 1982. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was in love with Elway, according to former Yankee scout Gary Hughes.
“George was enamored with the idea of John. ‘We've got to have this guy. He's going to be great. He's going to be a Yankee.’” Steinbrenner was so in love with Elway that he was selected ahead of some guy named Tony Gwynn.
If Elway wasn’t traded to the Broncos, he would have played baseball for the Yankees and likely would have stayed out of the NFL for good.
8 Clay Buchholz for Felix Hernandez
In what would have been a massive blockbuster deal involving several teams and players, the Boston Red Sox tried to make a play for King Felix Hernandez back in 2009. Originally, the Red Sox offered the Mariners Clay Buchholz and a list of seven prospects, and allowed the Mariners to select any five of them. It wasn’t enough for the Mariners, however, and that’s when the San Diego Padres became involved.
With them on board, the Mariners would have received Buchholz, Adrian Gonzalez, and several other prospects. The Red Sox would have gotten Hernandez and the Padres would have gotten Phillippe Aumont, Brandon Morrow and Carlos Triunfel. The deal was struck down by the Mariners because it still wasn’t enough for them.
The Mariners have been reluctant to trade Hernandez over the years, which is fair enough, he is one of the best pitchers in the game. But they don’t do much to put pieces around him and this trade would have given them a lot of depth and young talent.
7 Manny Ramirez Was Almost a Met
During the 2004 winter meetings, Mets GM Omar Minaya was desperate to get Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox and he came close to getting him too.
Originally the Mets almost made the deal in a three team trade, but Minaya called it off at the last minute when he realized he couldn’t also get Hanley Ramirez. He then set up another trade that would have sent the Mets top two prospects to the Red Sox. However, the Mets couldn’t afford Ramirez and his massive salary, so he also had to work out a deal that would enable the Red Sox to help pay him.
Ultimately the deal fell through because the Red Sox weren’t interested in one of the two players, a prospect named Lastings Milledge. Their suspicious would be confirmed in 2006 and 2007 when Milledge finally made it to the big leagues and was mediocre at best.
6 Albert Pujols to Montreal Expos
Back in 2000, the St. Louis Cardinals were faced with the prospect of having to trade away one of their two rising stars, likely for salary concerns. They were Fernando Tatis and Albert Pujols. The team that expressed the most interest were the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals.
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa says that the team ultimately decided to trade Tatis due to his “lack of desire and personal discipline” after signing a huge contract with the team earlier the previous spring. Not much is known about the components of the potential Pujols trade, although the Cardinals did receive pitchers Dustin Hermanson and Steve Kline for Tatis.
It’s fun to think about the ramifications of this trade. Who knows, maybe if Pujols was sent to Montreal he would have re-sparked an interest in the city and the team never would have relocated. Maybe the Cardinals wouldn’t have been so good for so long. We’ll never know, of course.
5 Mariano Rivera to Tigers for David Wells
Mariano Rivera will go do as one of the greatest Yankees of this generation for his tremendous work as a relief pitcher for nearly two decades. But all that was almost traded away before he had a chance.
Rivera got his start for the Yankees in 1995 when he was made a starting pitcher. His style didn’t fit the mold of a starter though and he was eventually made a relief pitcher. However, it was still believed that he could one day be a full starting pitcher if given the right work. This is what lead the Detroit Tigers to taking an interest in him. The Yankees on the other hand were dealing with a young shortstop named Derek Jeter, who was struggling in spring training.
The Tigers offered David Wells for Mariano Rivera, a deal that made sense for both sides at the time. What halted the deal was GM Brian Cashman’s investment in Jeter, not Rivera, whom he believed would be a big part of the team going forward.
5. Ken Griffey Jr. Wanted to be Traded to the Astros or Braves
In 1999, Ken Griffey Jr. wanted out of Seattle. It was reported that Griffey wanted to live closer to his family in Cincinnati after the death of his friend, PGA golfer Payne Stewart, in a plane crash, hence why he was traded to the Reds. However, that can’t be entirely accurate, as he gave the Mariners a list of teams he wanted to be traded to. The Reds were certainly on the list, but it also included teams like the Astros and Braves.
The Braves emerged as the early favorites. The Mariners actually sent scouts to watch the Braves, knowing Griffey might want to be traded there. The Braves were also close to Griffey’s home at the time, something he reportedly wanted.
Griffey never said what his number one choice was, but he eventually accepted a trade to the Reds. If Griffey were traded to the Astros, they might have won the World Series in 2005 or sooner. If he went to the Braves, they could have become the most dominant team in baseball. In a lot of ways, the Reds were the worst option for Griffey.
4 Randy Johnson Was Almost a Blue Jay
Before the trade deadline in the 1993 season, Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick was working his butt off. He was working on a trade to get Rickey Henderson from the A's, and a second deal at the same time. This one would see pitcher Mike Timlin and prospect Steve Karsay go to the Mariners for Randy Johnson, who was having a breakout season that year.
Sadly for the Blue Jays though, Mariners GM Woody Woodward couldn’t be reached on the eve of the deadline. As a result, Gillick pulled the trigger on the Henderson deal, sending Karsay and outfielder José Herrera to the A's. When Woodward made it back to the office, it was too late, as Gillick already had a verbal agreement in place with the A’s over Karsay.
Where was Woodward when the deal was first offered? He was playing golf.
3 Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox
In 2003, Alex Rodriguez had the richest contract in all of sports history with the Texas Rangers. Seeing as how he didn’t single-handedly win the World Series every year while also curing cancer, the team wanted to get rid of him and his contract.
After the Red Sox lost the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, Rangers owner Tom Hicks sensed an opportunity and called the Red Sox about giving them Rodriguez. In a three team trade involving the other Sox, the Boston would give the Rangers Manny Ramirez, who they were desperate to get rid of at this time, Nomar Garciaparra and Jon Lester. The White Sox would give Boston outfielder Magglio Ordonez and pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and they would receive some young prospects in return.
All sides, including Rodriguez himself, agreed to the deal. However, Rodriguez voluntarily agreed to shave $30 million off his contract to get the Red Sox to agree. That’s when the MLB Players Association stepped in and shut it down, not wanting to set a precedent for future trades and deals. It looked like A-Rod was going to stay in Texas, until the Yankees traded for him a few months later.
2 Barry Bonds to Atlanta
In a 2006 book written by former Braves GM John Schuerholz, Schuerholz says the Braves almost traded for Bonds in 1992. It happened nine months before he became a free agent and went to San Francisco and the BALCO story eventually broke.
The trade would have sent pitcher Alejandro Peña and outfielder Keith Mitchell to Pittsburgh in exchange for Bonds. The deal was already agreed to between Schuerholz and Pirates GM Ted Simmons. According to Schuerholz, he called Simmons the following day to talk about the timing of the press release. That’s when Simmons told Schuerholz the deal was off, after Pirates manager Jim Leyland “blew up.”
Who knows how different baseball would be today if this trade went through. The whole BALCO scandal might not have happened or at least possibly not heard about for years later than it happened, if it at all. Barry Bonds might have gone down as a beloved figure, and the steroid scandal throughout baseball that kicked off because of him might not have happened. That’s to say nothing about how it would have changed the Braves and Pirates.
1 The Yankees Almost Traded Joe DiMaggio to…
Anyone who’s a fan of baseball history could see this one coming. If you thought the trade involving A-Rod, the Red Sox and the Yankees was big, you haven’t heard of this proposed trade.
The story goes that Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees GM Lee MacPhail were drinking together one day in 1947 and the two agreed to swap Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams. Yes, that’s right, a straight up trade of two of the greatest, most iconic players in baseball history. When the two men sobered up, they were a little more reluctant, but were still intrigued. Yawkey decided he wanted more and asked for some other guy named Yogi Berra. The only thing this trade was missing was an American flag and a slice of apple pie.
MacPhail didn’t want to give up Berra as well, and likely came to his senses that the trade would have likely started a civil war. Who knows how the history of baseball, no, the history of America, no, the history of the WORLD would have changed if this trade went down. Maybe we’re better off not knowing.
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