I’ve thought for a long time about doing a series here on Cubs trades, both good and bad.
It’s a daunting task. Sure, there are deals like the Brock-for-Broglio trade which is very likely the worst in MLB history, and others that were good for the Cubs, such as acquiring Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg by trade.
But ranking them is, to me, a difficult thing. I guess I could rank them by WAR traded and acquired, but in the end I decided simply to look at trades made by the Cubs over the last 60 years, the “Expansion Era” as it’s called by many, and do it by year.
So this will be an occasional series through the offseason, and should serve as an interesting discussion starting point. Note: For the purposes of this series, I am not going to look at free agent signings, waiver claims or deals for “cash considerations” (what used to be called “player sold”) — just trades where at least one player was included on both sides of the deal. It’s not limited to only MLB players either; if minor leaguers were included, or the primary focus, that qualifies. Certainly the Sandberg deal was most important for Sandberg, who had played in just 13 MLB games before he became a Cub.
If there are too many trades in any one season, I’ll probably focus only on what seem to be the most important. Also, these are trades made in the calendar year indicated, some before the season, some during, some after.
Got all that? All right, here are the trades the Cubs made during 1962, the first year of National League expansion.
April 30: Acquired Bob Buhl from the Braves for Jack Curtis
This was a very good deal for the Cubs. Curtis had been in the Cubs rotation for much of 1961, and actually finished third in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. Buhl had been a pretty good starter for the Braves for several seasons and was a part of both their World Series teams in the 1950s. But by 1962 he was 33 and appeared on the downside.
The deal worked. Curtis didn’t pitch much for the Braves and they traded him to Cleveland after the 1962 season. He pitched in only four games for them, not well, and eventually was sent on a minor league odyssey through the Yankees and Twins organizations that ended after 1967.
Meanwhile, Buhl put up seasons of 2.9, 2.6 and 3.0 bWAR for the Cubs in 1962, 1963 and 1964, all decent enough, and though he declined a bit in 1965, at age 37 the Phillies still thought he had something left, so the Cubs were able to trade him and Larry Jackson for Fergie Jenkins. That worked out all right.
One thing Buhl accomplished in his first year with the Cubs: He went 0-for-69 as a hitter. With an 0-for-1 for the Braves that year, that 0-for-70 is still the most at-bats by anyone without a hit in a season.
October 17: Acquired Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel and Jimmie Schaffer from the Cardinals for George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker
The Cubs had lost 103 games, a franchise record, in 1962 and finished behind the expansion team from Houston. So, something had to be done, thought general manager John Holland.
This was not a popular deal at the time it was made. 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.
The deal paid immediate dividends for the Cubs. Jackson posted a 5.1 bWAR season for the Cubs in 1963 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.
Jackson was eventually included with Buhl in the Jenkins deal and McDaniel, after one really good year and two okay seasons, was traded (with Don Landrum) to the Giants for Bill Hands and Randy Hundley.
These are the only significant trades the Cubs made in 1962, and the grade on them is a solid A-.
Give the Cubs a grade for their 1962 trades.
This poll is closed