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Indians Indians Archive Cleveland Sports Vault: Test Your Indians Trade Knowledge
Written by Greg Popelka

Greg Popelka

rick sutcliffeAn ex-big league general manager recently joked about a trade he’d made. He’d given up a lot for an aging star- but hey, he had not originally given up that much for those players. So, he rationalized that through the combination of the two trades, he’d made a nice deal. Sure, the entire ‘transaction’ played out over several years, but so what?

Fans occasionally play these kinds of games with trades. For example, consider Tribe starting pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco. You probably are familiar with the 2009 deadline trade that brought CarCar to Cleveland: he, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald and Lou Marson were acquired for Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.

How did Lee join the Indians in the first place? You’ll likely also recall the June, 2002 trade that sent front-of-the-rotation starter Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos. The sports talk shows exploded with reaction: the Tribe just quit! Colon was necessary for a playoff run, and they traded him for “Lee Stevens and three minor leaguers”! Of course, the haul included Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Cliff Lee.

So, spanning 2002 to 2009, an oversimplified – but fun – generalization is that the Cleveland Indians traded “Bart” (as manager Mike Hargrove referred to him) for Carrasco.

Trades that can be linked in such a manner typically feature good players. Players who don’t amount to much get released. They typically don’t get acquired by other teams via trades.

So it seems fair to test our memories of similarly linked trades from the past. In full disclosure, I would not have remembered many of these deals. But you might, and they are fun to consider.

Let’s try this. I will only go back a couple generations. I’ll name a player as a starting point, and another player as an ending point. You’ll be familiar with many of the trades they were a part of.  I’ll also note when the linked trades were made (these can be clues) . See if you can recall the trades.

corey kluber1)     Catcher Eddie Taubensee; Pitcher Corey Kluber.


-          December, 1991 (so, you know Taubensee was a part of this trade)

-          Spring training, 1997 (at least one player in the 1991 trade was dealt here)

-          Late June, 2000 (at least one player acquired in the 1997 trade was dealt here)

-          Late July, 2010 (so, you know Kluber was a part of this trade)

2)     Pitcher Sam McDowell; Outfielder Andre ThorntonAndre Thornton card copy.


-          November, 1971

-          June, 1975

-          December, 1976

3)     First Baseman Russell Branyan; Pitcher Trevor Bauer.


-          June, 2002

-          July, 2006

-          December, 2012

jack brohamer4)     Second Baseman Jack Brohamer (right); Third Baseman Brook Jacoby.


-          December, 1975

-          October, 1978

-          August, 1983

5)     Second Baseman/DH/Outfielder Jorge Orta; Third Baseman Travis Fryman.

I am showing one of the trades, since this one is pretty awesomely stretched out over time. If you think about the dates of the deals before and after, you may be able to connect the dots pretty well.


-          December, 1981

-          June, 1984

-          December, 1989 OF Joe Carter was traded by the Tribe to the San Diego Padres, for top C prospect Sandy Alomar, Jr, fellow 2B prospect Carlos Baerga, and OF Chris James (SMU star RB and Eric Dickerson teammate Craig James’ brother).

-          July, 1996

-          November, 1996

-          December, 1997

6)     Outfielder/DH/Third Baseman Von Hayes; Outfielder Dion James


-          1983

milton bradley wedge-          December, 1988

-          July, 1989

7)     Outfielder Milton Bradley; Relief Pitcher Joe Smith


-          April, 2004

-          December, 2008

8)     Catcher Max Alvis; Pitcher Pat Dobson

(Here is a clue: it will help a lot if you are familiar with how the Indians acquired and dealt away Oscar Gamble.)


-          1970

-          December, 1971

-          November, 1972

-          November, 1975bud black signing

9)     Shortstop Jerry Dybzynski; Pitcher Buddy Black


-          April, 1983

-          June, 1988

10)    Pitcher Chuck Finley; Catcher Kelly Shoppach


-          July, 2002

-          January, 2006

11)    This also works:

Closer Jose Mesa; Catcher Kelly Shoppach


-          July, 1998

Bert Blyleven card 84-          June, 2001

-          January, 2006

12)    Pitcher Bert Blyleven; Shortstop Omar Vizquel


-          August, 1985

-          March, 1989

-          December, 1993


Ready for the answers?

1)     Catcher Eddie Taubensee; Pitcher Corey Kluber.


-              December, 1991 The famous trade of Taubensee and P Willie Blair to the Houston Astros for OF Kenny Lofton. One of the best trades in Cleveland Indians history.

-              Spring training, 1997 Kenny was unsigned long-term, and GM John Hart had just lost OF Albert Belle to free agency, with nothing to show for it. Just before Opening Day, he traded Lofton to the Atlanta Braves for OFs David Justice and Marquis Grissom.

-              Late June, 2000 Justice was sent to the New York Yankees for OF Ricky Ledee, P Zach Day, and P Jake Westbrook. Westbrook broke in with the Indians as an impressive, strike-throwing middle reliever.

-              Late July, 2010 Jake Westbrook was traded by the Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals sent OF Ryan Ludwick to the San Diego Padres, and the Padres sent a minor leaguer to St. Louis, and Kluber (another minor leaguer) to the Tribe.


sam mcdowell topps gray border2)     Pitcher Sam McDowell; Outfielder Andre Thornton.


-              November, 1971 Sudden Sam had a ton of talent, but was a conflicted soul who never really liked baseball much- his father pushed him away from football, in search of a payday. Sam struggled with alcohol and drugs, and he reached the end of the line with the Tribe as he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for P Gaylord Perry and SS Frank Duffy. Perry won the American League Cy Young Award in 1972, and Duffy was a starter who played great defense.

-              June, 1975 Perry and new manager Frank Robinson did not get along. Some feel they had a chance to lead the team together, but they had shared a stormy past. The Indians were also split along racial lines. Perry was insubordinate, and ineffective. He was traded to the Texas Rangers for Ps Jim Bibby, Rick Waits and Jackie Brown. The Indians failed to meet a pay deadline for Bibby and lost him as a free agent. Waits was eventually released.

-              December, 1976 Jackie Brown was traded to the Montreal Expos, for Andre Thornton. A tremendous deal, as Thunder seemed pretty much the only quality player on the roster in the late 1970s.


3)     First Baseman Russell Branyan; Pitcher Trevor Bauer.

trevor bauerDeals:

-              June, 2002 The early 2000s Indians system had a lot of quality 1B prospects. Behind Jim Thome taking infield practice at 1st in spring training were Richie Sexson, Sean Casey and Russell Branyan. They traded Branyan to the Cincinnati Reds for 1B/OF Ben Broussard.

-              July, 2006 Broussard was traded to Seattle for OF Shin-Soo Choo. Great deal for the Indians, who have gotten the best of Seattle in a few trades in recent years.

-              December, 2012 As we know, Big League Choo was traded to the Reds. The Reds sent P prospect Didi Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks and OF Drew Stubbs to Cleveland. Arizona sent P prospect Trevor Bauer, along with Ps Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw, to the Indians.


4)     Second Baseman Jack Brohamer; Third Baseman Brook Jacoby.

brook jacoby fleer ultraDeals:

-              December, 1975 This one is a little more obscure. Brohamer was a scrappy member of the Buddy Bell/Frank Duffy infield. He was hurt in 1975- and soon felt well enough to play but was kept on the DL. Unfortunately for him, the Indians were going with a youth movement, and manager Frank Robinson admired rookie Duane Kuiper’s play at second. Brohamer was traded to the Chicago White Sox for infielder Larvell Blanks.

-              October, 1978 “Sugar Bear” (Blanks) was traded with P Jim Kern to the Texas Rangers. In return, the Tribe received P Len Barker and OF Bobby Bonds. A very good trade for Cleveland. Barker will always be celebrated for his 1981 perfect game. He enjoyed a few very nice seasons around that time.

-              August, 1983 Barker was traded to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves sent back P Rick Behenna, CF Brett Butler, and 3B Brook Jacoby. Butler was a premier CF and base stealer who unfortunately defected as a free agent. Jacoby held down the Indians’ starting 3B position for a decade.

(With some of these nice late 70s/early 80s trades, it makes you reflect on how truly horrible other decisions were, in light of how awful those teams were.)


5)     Second Baseman/DH/Outfielder Jorge Orta; Third Baseman Travis Fryman.


travis fryman-              December, 1981 Orta (whom I liked as a White Sox player when I was a young kid) was traded by the Indians to the Dodgers, in a 5 player deal that brought P Rick Sutcliffe to Cleveland. Getting young pitching from that LA franchise, in those days especially, was a promising proposition. And Sutcliffe did not disappoint.

-              June, 1984 Sutcliffe was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. C Ron Hassey was included in the deal, and the Indians received OFs Joe Carter and Mel Hall in the, uh, haul.

-              December, 1989 OF Joe Carter was traded by the Tribe to the San Diego Padres, for top C prospect Sandy Alomar, Jr, fellow 2B prospect Carlos Baerga, and OF Chris James (SMU star RB and Eric Dickerson teammate Craig James’ brother).

-              July, 1996 In a move I still don’t really fully understand, John Hart traded Carlos Baerga to the New York Mets- midseason, smack dab in the middle of a 5-6 year window of pennant contention. You hear things like Carlos liked to party too much, but how does that make him so different from a lot of other players? As it turned out, they sold high- Baerga was never again really as good as he’d been. But the reasons for trading him were murky to me. Kind of like Wayne Embry dealing Ron Harper several years earlier. In return for Baerga, the Tribe received Jose Vizcaino and 2B Jeff Kent.

-              November, 1996 Kent was only in town for the proverbial cup of coffee. He was sent to San Francisco, with Vizcaino and P Julian Tavarez. This was the deal that brought 3B Matt Williams to Cleveland. Some call this a bad trade, since Kent had a really productive career. But Williams and his successor were strong component of the Indians’ lineups in the 90s.

-              December, 1997 The Tribe picked up 3B Travis Fryman in a deal that sent Matt Williams to Arizona. It always looked to my untrained eye that Fryman swung a slow bat (Oriole Cal Ripken always appeared that way to me, as well). But he was a solid hitter, who came through in many clutch situations.


6)     Outfielder/DH/Third Baseman Von Hayes; Outfielder Dion James


-              1983 Hayes was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for IF Manny Trillo and 4 other players. One of those happened to be IF Julio Franco. HOOOOO leooooo. A Philly fan told me that they thought the Phils got over on the Indians. They liked Hayes, and called him “five for one”. I guess. But although Franco fielded ground balls with an iron skillet, he was a very good hitter.

-              December, 1988 This was the deal that should have been ridiculed- trading Franco away. The Tribe was tired of his high-maintenance personality (they should have been better at working with him, and his rough edges softened as he played into the 2000s with other teams- including the Indians again, for a short time). Franco was traded to Texas for 2B Jerry Browne, IF Oddibe McDowell, and 1b Pete O’Brien. Some quality there, although O’Brien was near the end of the line.

-              July, 1989 McDowell was traded for OF Dion James.


7)     Outfielder Milton Bradley; Relief Pitcher Joe Smith

joe smithDeals:

-              April, 2004 “Game Boy” had been acquired in a deal with Montreal in 2001. The talented minor leaguer had the look of  a future star. However, his volatile personality clashed with Tribe management. They had enough, and he was dealt.  ESPN talking heads (I used to watch that network; not so much these days) found it hilarious that Cleveland was giving up on another budding superstar. The beneficiary was the LA Dodgers. LA swapped OF Franklin Gutierrez in the deal.

-              December, 2008 Gutierrez was traded to the Mariners. Seattle sent 3 players to the Mets, including P J.J. Putz. NY sent several players to Seattle, including Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, and Aaron Heilman. Seattle sent IF/OF Luis Valbuena to Cleveland, and NY sent us P Joe Smith.


max alvis8)     Catcher Max Alvis (right); Pitcher Pat Dobson


-              1970 Alvis was a regular 3B with the Indians in the 1960s. He hit for power and for average in his rookie year of 1963, only to suffer from spinal meningitis shortly after. He perhaps returned to play prematurely, and wasn’t quite the same player. He was an All-Star on some bad Indians teams, and was a fan favorite. Alvis was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers; the Indians received OF Roy Foster in the deal.

-              December, 1971 Foster, C Ken Suarez, P Mike Paul, and P Rich Hand were traded to Texas that brought OF Del Unser and P Denny Riddleberger. Unser became the rare Indian who could hit.  

-              November, 1972 Unser was traded to Philadelphia in a 3-for-1 deal- for OF Oscar Gamble, his huge afro, and Roger Freed.

-              November, 1975 Gamble was dealt to the Yankees for P Pat Dobson. The veteran Dobson and the brash youngster Dennis Eckersley were peas in a pod, coming up with nicknames and their own original baseball terms. Some referred to it as “Dial-Eckt.” We still use some of those terms today- some credit Eckersley with the term, “walk-off”, as in a walk-off win. As a baseball writer in the 70s, Peter Gammons reported on Dial-Eckt: Cheese was the fastball; a yakker was the curve. The kitchen was high and tight; a kudo was a 'bow' the batter takes on a breaking ball when he thinks the ball will come inside. “Pitching is simple,” Eckersley said. “It’s cheese for the kitchen, and a yakker for the kudo.”


9)     Shortstop Jerry Dybzynski; Pitcher Buddy Black


-              April, 1983 “The Dibber” was a local boy out of Collinwood High School. Good field/no hit but fun to watch. He was traded to the White Sox for 1B Pat Tabler, a guy who would hit so well with men in scoring position that he would be known as “Mr. Clutch.”

chuck finley copy-              June, 1988 Tabler was swapped for Black, in a trade with the Kansas City Royals.


10)    Pitcher Chuck Finley; Catcher Kelly Shoppach


-              July, 2002 Finley had been a nice free agent pickup for the 2000 season, in the latter stages of the “Era of Champions”. He was moved in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Kind of stunk that the Indians were no longer buyers; they were now sellers (first Colon, and now Finley). The Tribe received minor league OF Coco Crisp.

-              January, 2006 The Indians traded Coco to the Red Sox, along with C Josh Bard and David Riske. The Red Sox sent back Guillermo Mota, and Shoppach. But the prize was Andy Marte, a top propect who’d been groomed in the Atlanta Braves’ system. The Red Sox were aware of the Indians’ interest in Marte, and it appeared they acquired him with the intent to flip him to Cleveland. As we know, the Marte era ended with a whimper.


11)    This also works:

Closer Jose Mesa; Catcher Kelly Shoppach


-              July, 1998 Jose Mesa was a starting pitcher whom the Tribe picked up from the Baltimore Orioles in 1992, for a minor leaguer. After several volatile seasons as a dominant closer-turned-melted down World Series goat, he was packaged with SS Shawon Dunston and P Alvin Morman and sent to the Giants in midseason. In return, the Indians received OF/1B Jacob Cruz and P Steve Reed.

-              June, 2001 Jacob Cruz was sent by the Indians to the Colorado Rockies for C Josh Bard and OF Jody Gerut.

-              January, 2006 Kelly Shoppach was acquired in the Bard deal with Boston.


Omar Vizquel12)    Pitcher Bert Blyleven; Shortstop Omar Vizquel


-              August, 1985 Back in 1980, the Tribe had made a nice deal to pick up the future Hall of Famer Blyleven. He came from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and it cost the Indians Gary Alexander, Victor Cruz, Rafael Vazquez, and Bob Owchinko. By 1985, Blyleven had given Cleveland some really strong seasons. But he was weary of rebuilding rosters, and wished to play on a contending team. Cleveland traded him to the Minnesota Twins; the deal saw SS Jay Bell come to the Indians.

-              March, 1989 Jay Bell had promise at short, but the Indians traded him to Pittsburgh for another shortstop, Felix Fermin.

-              December, 1993 Fermin and Reggie Jefferson were sent to Seattle for slick-fielding SS Omar Vizquel. Omar was a light hitter who really improved that part of his game over the years (along with Lofton, here were two raw talents acquired by John Hart who really blossomed as part of the incredible offense of the 1990s).


Whew! Hope that was as fun for you as it was for me.

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