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 see how a decision to rebuild can pay huge dividends down the road.
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 reveal the 4th best trade-in Mariners’ history.
Mariners trade Ken Phelps to NY Yankees for OF Jay Buhner
Sometimes, you get lucky and other times, you create your own luck. When the Mariners sent then DH Ken Phelps to the New York Yankees for Troy Evers, Ricky Balabon, and some Texas outfielder named Jay Buhner, they may have gotten both.
Phelps was a good player and one of the best on a bad 1988 Mariners team and Seattle never got anything out of Evers and Balabon. But what they did get was one of the most beloved players in franchise history and a de facto captain during the greatest stretch in team history.
Buhner was a cult hero with big-time power and a great arm and the personality to match. He provided thunder in the middle of a potent Seattle lineup that included all-time greats like Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, and Ken Griffey Jr. From 1991-1997, Buhner would slash .259/.363/.507 with 224 home runs, an All-Star selection, and a Gold Glove.
Buhner finished his Mariners career with 307 home runs, third in franchise history, 10th in wRC+ (124), and 6th in fWAR (22.4) amongst offensive players. Only 3 players have appeared in more games wearing a Mariners uniform and only 2, Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, had more RBI.
He was a friend. A character. The inspiration to one of the best promotions in franchise history, Buhner Buzz Cut Night, and had one of the best nicknames in team history, “The Bone”. He was in the middle of so many magical moments, and in a way, is the historian of the greatest stretch in baseball history.
He celebrates with us and he cries with us. He left it all on the field and gave his city and his franchise everything he had. And he was a damn fine baseball player. For this, Jay Buhner’s acquisition finds itself in the Top 4 of the best trades in Mariners’ history.