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Cubs history: A 1960s trade that worked out well... even into the 1970s

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The Cubs made a lot of bad trades in this era. This one paid dividends many years later.

Larry Jackson in spring training 1965
Sporting News via Getty Images

The Cubs were famous, or infamous, for their poor trades in the 1950s and 1960s, among them the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio deal that likely was the worst in franchise history, perhaps even in all of baseball history.

I’m here to tell you about a Cubs trade made in 1962 that not only was good for the team, but paid dividends down the road when they traded away the players they acquired in the ‘62 deal.

I like looking at deals like this and following where players go after the initial swap and how that benefitted the team or teams involved.

On October 17, 1962, the Cubs traded George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker to the Cardinals for Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel and Jimmie Schaffer.

Altman had just completed two outstanding hitting seasons with the Cubs. In 1961 he hit .303/.353/.560 with 27 home runs and in ‘62 hit .318/.393/.511 with 22 home runs. He was an All-Star both years.

Cardwell had famously thrown a no-hitter in his first Cubs start after being acquired from the Phillies in May 1960, but by 1962 his numbers had fallen off considerably. He was just 26, but the Cubs wanted to move on.

Jackson, meanwhile, had been a mainstay in the Cardinals rotation for eight years. McDaniel, too, had been eight years in a Cardinals uniform and they apparently felt the need to shake things up.

Thacker and Schaffer were throw-ins.

The deal paid immediate dividends for the Cubs. Jackson posted a 5.1 bWAR season for the Cubs in 1963 (not that anyone knew what bWAR was back then) and was an All-Star. McDaniel was a star in the Cubs bullpen, leading the National League with 22 saves (even though the save would not become an official stat until 1969). In 1964, Jackson led the major leagues with 24 wins — back when individual pitcher wins still meant something — and finished second in Cy Young voting. At the time, there was only one Cy Young Award for both leagues and the winner was Dean Chance of the Angels, so Jackson might have won the N.L. Cy Young if there had been separate voting, although his 6.0 bWAR was tied for fifth in the league.

What’s more important about this trade is that the players acquired provided value long after their careers ended.

By 1966 Jackson was seen as being near the end of the road. He and Bob Buhl were traded to the Phillies for Fergie Jenkins and Adolfo Phillips. That one worked out pretty well for the Cubs, I’d say. (It might have been better if Leo Durocher hadn’t ruined Phillips.) Jenkins had eight outstanding years for the Cubs and then was traded for Bill Madlock and Vic Harris. That would have worked out better if the Cubs had just kept Madlock, but that made this trade chain give the team solid value from 1963 through 1976, and a bit more when Madlock was traded for Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros.

Total bWAR produced for the Cubs by players acquired for Jackson and Buhl: 73.5, broken down this way: 52.9 (Jenkins, including the two years after he came back to the Cubs), 14.6 (Madlock), Ontiveros (4.8), Murcer (4.0) and Harris (-2.8).

McDaniel and Don Landrum were traded to the Giants after the 1965 season for Bill Hands and Randy Hundley. So the original 1962 trade wound up bringing the Cubs three key players for their 1967-73 contending teams. McDaniel did play through 1975 and produced 11.6 bWAR for three teams, but the Cubs got much more in return.

Hands produced 27 bWAR for the Cubs and Hundley 11.8, so the Cubs got several seasons and 38.8 bWAR for McDaniel and Landrum.

The return on that deal pretty much ended there, unfortunately.

Hands was eventually traded to the Twins for Dave LaRoche, who was terrible for the Cubs but pitched well after he was traded for Milt Wilcox, who was also terrible for the Cubs but pitched well for other teams later. (That seemed to be the trading style of the latter part of GM John Holland’s era.)

The Cubs acquired George Mitterwald from the Twins for Hundley, and he produced pretty much nothing bWAR-wise (0.1) in blue pinstripes.

So tracing the original Altman/Cardwell/Thacker for Jackson/McDaniel/Schaffer deal in 1962, the Cubs were still getting value down the road until 1979, 17 years later, when Murcer was traded to the Yankees for a minor leaguer who never made it.

I’m probably going to do some more of these “trade trackers” over the offseason. If you’ve got any deals you’d like me to track, let me know in the comments.