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 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 2nd best trade-in Mariners’ history.
Mariners trade Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati for Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez, and Jake Meyers
It seems impossible for this to be the case, but once again we have a trade involving one of the greatest players in the history of baseball leaving the Seattle Mariners and the team getting better as a result. When it happened, it was undoubtedly a shock to the system. The most important Mariner ever was traded, per his request, to the Reds on February 10th, 2000, for a foursome of players.
While Mike Cameron ended up being the best player in this deal by a mile, both Brett Tomko and Antonio Perez were highly touted prospects, making this an impressive haul for a team with no leverage (Seattle).
Yes, seeing Griffey in a Reds uniform was hard, but Mike Cameron almost immediately eased the stomach of fans, turning in a highlight reel catch in his fourth game at Safeco Field, robbing Derek Jeter of a home run.
This catch became a launching pad for Cameron, who was already one of the most underrated players in baseball prior to 2000. Cameron would spend 4 seasons with the Mariners where he would win 2 Gold Gloves, make an All-Star team, go 20/30 twice, and rack up an incredible 18.4 bWAR in 610 games.
Cammy, as he would become, slashed .256/.350/.448 while averaging 22 home runs and 26 stolen bases on top of his elite defense. His 18.4 bWAR in 4 seasons was 50% better than Griffey’s 12.8 bWAR in 9 seasons with the Reds. Nobody could and ever will replace Junior, but Cameron did a hell of a job filling in the biggest shoes in franchise history.
On top of the stellar production, Seattle got from Cameron, Seattle would eventually turn Antonio Perez (and allowing Lou Piniella out of his contract) into All-Star player Randy Winn, a trade that by itself almost cracked out Top 10.
Winn would add 8.8 bWAR, including 7.7 bWAR in his first two seasons with the club. As it turns out, Cameron for Griffey Jr. was a net-win for the Mariners and a pretty significant one. But when you factor in the connected trade of Perez for Winn, the deal is an even bigger blowout.
Sometimes, you get lucky and maybe Seattle did here. But other times, you see value where others overlook it and take advantage of it and the Mariners deserve some credit for getting Cameron and eventually Winn for their franchise icon.