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 blast way back to the past with #9 on our list.
Mariners trade Craig Reynolds to Houston for Floyd Bannister
To say the first two seasons of the expansion Mariners weren’t going well would be an understatement. After a 64-98 inaugural season, Seattle backed it up with a truly dismal 56-104 record. The team didn’t have a lot of young stars to be excited about and the pitching staff desperately needed a jolt of electricity.
But when the Mariners acquired Floyd Bannister on December 8th,1978, they weren’t getting much of a polished product. The Seattle native finished 4th in the 1977 Rookie of the Year race, but couldn’t find his footing in 1978, causing the Astros to ship their former first-round pick (#1 overall) off to Seattle.
In return, Seattle sent Craig Reynolds, a 26-year-old shortstop who was known for his glove rather than his bat. Reynolds actually made the All-Star team in his first season in Houston, but never found enough success at the plate to max out his potential.
Meanwhile, Floyd Bannister became one of the best pitchers in the American League and the de facto ace of the Mariners rotation. In 4 seasons with Seattle, Bannister would make 117 starts, covering 768 innings, while posting a 3.75 ERA, a 3.86 FIP, a 112 ERA+, and accumulating 13.1 bWAR.
Bannister made one All-Star team and actually led the league in strikeouts his breakout 1982 season. That season, Bannister made 35 starts covering 247 innings with a 3.43 ERA and an AL-best 209 strikeouts.
Unfortunately, Seattle was unable (or unwilling) to re-sign Bannister or put a competent team around him and he left as a free agent after 1982. But Bannister was the first Mariners ace and kicked off a long track record of excellent Seattle left-handed pitchers. Because of these contributions to the franchise, we award this trade as one of the 10 best in Mariners’ history.