Mariners Trade Review: The First Failed Bavasi Trade Involved Guillen


Formers Mariners shortstop, Carlos Guillen was the first player swapped in the long line of failed Mariner trades under Bill Bavasi.

Guillen is best remembered in a Mariners uniform for his bottom of the ninth inning pinch-hit walk-off drag bunt down the first base line past Frank Thomas to score Rickey Henderson in game three of the ALDS against the Chicago White sox to send the Mariners to the ALCS in 2000.

In 2000, Guillen was splitting time at SS with Alex Rodriguez, as well as playing a hand full of games at 3B backing up David Bell.

Guillen spent six years in Seattle after they traded for him in 1998. A trade that in some ways went the Mariners way.

But I am here to discuss another trade.

The day was January 8th, 2004.

Bill Bavasi had taken over the previous November as the new GM of the Mariners after a 93-win season, only good enough for second in the AL west, and missing the postseason.

That trade sent Guillen to the Detroit Tigers for a minor league pitcher, Juan Gonzalez and a young shortstop named Ramon Santiago.

Carlos Guillen's game winning drag bunt in the 2000 ALDS
Carlos Guillen’s game-winning drag bunt in the 2000 ALDS /

A curious move, one of the first lackluster trades made by former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. It still hurts to say his name.

Santiago had an odd season before this trade. He led the AL in range factor per 9 innings at 4.84 -this factors in putouts, assists, and innings played. Future Mariner Chris Woodward was fourth that year while playing for Toronto.

But that same season in 2003, Santiago also was 4th in the AL at any position with 20 errors committed.

Apparently, that was good enough for Bavasi to pull the trigger on this deal.

With the Mariners, the switch-hitting Santiago only appeared in 27 games over two seasons. He had 58 plate appearances with a .170 batting average and his defensive statistics were about the same as before. He had four errors in 18 games played at SS over those two seasons.

He was released after those two campaigns and found his way back to Detroit. Santiago played in the majors until 2014, never putting up great numbers but they were decent enough to keep himself in the league.

In addition, the M’s acquired Juan Gonzalez, no not outfielder Juan González of Texas Rangers, this Juan Gonzalez was a right-handed pitcher who never pitched above AA.

But the AA team he was on, the Portland Sea Dogs of the Marlins organization, was managed by future Braves manager, Fredi Gonzalez.

Pitcher Juan Gonzalez was also teammates with future MLB players such as Alex Gonzalez, Livan Hernandez, Mark Kotsay, Kevin Millar, and future Mariners outfielder, Randy Winn, on that AA team.

Gonzalez pitched in independent ball from 1997-2000 and then again in 2003 after finishing up with that AA team. He didn’t pitch again after 2003, so it is unclear what happened to him after this trade to the Mariners.

He is from the Dominican Republic and before his years in the independent leagues he spent four seasons in the minor leagues.

There he threw 334 innings with an ERA of 4.23 and a WHIP of 1.38. His numbers were not much better in the independent leagues, throwing 242.1 innings with an ERA of 3.45 and a WHIP of 1.24. Decent numbers, but not good enough to be traded for Carlos Guillen at the time.

So, now we’ve learned that the Mariners basically traded a ripening Carlos Guillen for a younger, an all-around worse shortstop.

And that’s just the beginning of how bad this trade was.

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Guillen spent the next 8 years in Detroit, going to three All-Star games, and receiving MVP votes in two separate campaigns. Over those eight years, Guillen hit .297 with a .476 slugging percentage and an overall WAR of 18.7.

One of his best years came in 2006 when he finished 10th in MVP voting. That season he hit .320 with a .519 slugging percentage; he also drove in 85 runs and hit 19 HR with a 6.0 WAR.

Not to be outdone in 2007 when he was an All-Star, driving in 102 runs and hitting 21 HR.

Guillen retired after the 2011 season.

The year following this trade, the Mariners replaced Guillen with Rich Aurilia who hit .241 with four HR in 2004. That season the Mariners went 63-99 that year.

This swap undoubtedly chocks up as a Tigers win. You can’t even begin to compare what Guillen did in Detroit for 11 years to the 27 games Santiago played in Seattle.

This was the beginning of many head-scratching moves by Bavasi and the Mariners. And this wasn’t the only bad trade with the Tigers the M’s have made since then.

Next: The Mariners Have Many Center Fielders

The Mariners struggled for years after Guillen’s departure. Who knows how much he could have helped Seattle during that time, but if you were going to trade him away, Bavasi, you certainly could have got more value than what you got here.