While we all wait for the return of Mariners baseball, we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the franchises’ rich history. Today, we start off on a positive note.
What are the 10 best trades in Seattle Mariners’ history? Well, what they are, first and foremost, are entirely subjective. While we can add together the numbers and find the statistically best trade, we won’t be doing that in this series. Instead, we will be blending our statistical analysis with several x-factors, including what the deal meant for the team at one time.
Remember, winning trade is good. But even an inconclusive trade or one that both sides benefit from isn’t bad. The goal isn’t to win every trade, the goal is to win games and to improve your team to help you win as many games as possible. Basically, a trade doesn’t have to be a disaster for one team for that trade to be considered for this list.
As I said, we won’t be laser-focused on the WAR outcomes (though those are part of our analysis), but rather what the trade brought the team in return. With that in mind, let’s get started with number 10 on our list.
Mariners trade Erik Hanson and Bret Boone to Reds for Dan Wilson and Bobby Ayala
On November 2, 1993, the Seattle Mariners and GM Woody Woodward traded a solid starting pitcher and a future All-Star second baseman to the Reds to acquire a reliever who most would come to despise and a relatively unknown catcher named Dan Wilson. Wilson, who was with the Reds at the same time as new manager Lou Piniella, would go on to be the best backstop in franchise history.
At the time of the trade, the star of the deal was most definitely Erik Hanson. He was coming off a great season in which he threw 215 innings of 3.47 ERA ball. Hanson also posted a 3.41 FIP and a 1.28 WHIP. In fact, Hanson was capping off one of the best 4-year runs in Mariners history, averaging 203 innings of 3.79 ERA baseball. During that stretch, he posted a 3.25 FIP and a 108 ERA+.
Boone was a talented second baseman, coming off an exciting first extended look at the big league level. In 1993, Boone appeared in 76 games and hit .251/.301/.443 with 12 home runs. It wouldn’t take Boone long to find his stride with the Reds, but an up-and-down stint with Cincinnati would plague him after the 1994 season.
Boone would post a 4.4 bWAR in his 5 seasons with the Reds, while Hanson lasted only 1-season in Cincinnati and posted a 1.3 bWAR in an up and down season.
All the Mariners got out of this trade was a man who would become a 12-year mainstay in Seattle and one of the most popular players in franchise history (and Ayala, but let’s not talk about him) . Dan Wilson wound up winning the trade on his own while laying down permanent roots in the Pacific Northwest.
Wilson’s leadership skills, defensive prowess, and ability to get the best out of his pitching staffs were unrivaled and are impossible to put a value on. On what we can measure, Wilson posted a 13.5 bWAR in his Mariners career, including back-to-back seasons in ’96 and ’97 when he posted a combined 7.2 bWAR, which earned him his lone All-Star appearance in 1996.
Dan Wilson is still a prominent figure in the organization and in the community. Aside from the value he would bring on the baseball field, Wilson would bring that value tenfold to the franchise and it’s fans.
He’s one of the most popular players in team history, the best catcher, and a Mariners Hall of Famer who has appeared in every one of the playoff series Seattle has ever played in. Not too shabby of an investment if I do say so myself. And for his value on the field and his incredible value to things that don’t appear on a box score, we award this trade as the 10th best in franchise history.