10 best trades in Seattle Mariners history: Number 3

SEATTLE - APRIL 12: Former Mariners star Randy Johnson waves to the crowd prior to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners' home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on April 12, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - APRIL 12: Former Mariners star Randy Johnson waves to the crowd prior to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners' home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on April 12, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /
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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 trading a franchise icon can actually work out in your favor.

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 3rd best trade-in Mariners’ history.

Mariners trade Randy Johnson to Houston for RHP Freddy Garcia, SS Carlos Guillen, LHP John Halama

ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 14: Pitcher Freddy Garcia #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during the game against the Anaheim Angels on April 14, 2004, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 6-5. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 14: Pitcher Freddy Garcia #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during the game against the Anaheim Angels on April 14, 2004, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 6-5. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

It really is incredible how Seattle has been able to trade their best player and actually come out ahead. Each trade in our Top 3 will reflect just that but today we start with the infamous Randy Johnson trade. Well, the second one.

On July 31, 1998, the Seattle Mariners traded disgruntled ace and future hall of famer Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros for 3 prospects who would play major roles in the upcoming era of Mariners baseball.

Houston did well in this deal, as Johnson led them to the playoffs and was nothing short of dominant for the 2 months they controlled him. Ultimately, Seattle’s failures to manage Johnson off-the-field were a disaster, but that is a different story for another day.

What the Mariners got that day in return for The Big Unit would eventually become the staff ace and starting shortstop during the best 4-year stretch in franchise history, as well as a solid swing-arm to fill in some cracks.

Freddy Garcia would lead the Mariners staff from 1999 to June of 2004 and rack up countless value. In his 5.5 years in Seattle, Garcia would make 2 All-Star teams, finish in the Top 10 of Cy Young award voting, and was runner-up in the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year race.

He also ran up an impressive 18.6 bWAR in that time, covering 1096 innings in 169 starts. In 2001, he led the AL with a 3.05 ERA and 238.2 innings pitched and were the best pitcher for 2 playoff teams and 4 consecutive 90 win seasons.

Carlos Guillen also carved out a nice role with the Mariners. Unlike Garcia, it took a few years for Guillen to stick with the big club, but when he did, he posted a solid .264/.335/.383 and 9.1 bWAR in 1893 PAs. Unfortunately, Guillen didn’t blossom until he left Seattle, but he was a key part of 4 90+ win teams and laid down the second biggest bunt in Mariners’ history.

As for Halama, he wasn’t necessarily a key figure in this trade but still managed to amass 5.4 bWAR in his 4 seasons in Seattle. Like Guillen and Garcia, Halama played a role in the most successful 4 season stretch in franchise history and his versatility on the team’s pitching staff gave manager Lou Piniella‘s job a little easier.

All in all, the Mariners acquired 33.1 bWAR for 2 months of Johnson, who was certainly leaving after the ’98 season. It would have been great if the franchise could have mended fences with its franchise’s best pitcher. But once that ship had sailed, it seems unlikely that the team could possibly replace him.

Next. 10 best trades in Mariners history #4. dark

While nobody can replace “The Big Unit” the combination of Garcia, Guillen, and Halama provided fantastic value in his place. Rarely does a team trade one of it’s best players and come out ahead. But in this case, they did just that. And as a result, this trade earns its spot inside the Top 3 trades in franchise history.

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