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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 1986

This was kind of a nothing year for the Cubs, on and off the field.

Ed Lynch on the mound for the Cubs in 1987
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Dallas Green made just two trades involving major league players during the 1986 season. The biggest move he made was letting go the manager of the 1984 N.L. East champions, Jim Frey, in June with the Cubs mired 10 games under .500.

I’m including a couple of minor trades here because... otherwise, there wasn’t much.

January 11: Acquired Phil Stephenson and Bob Bathe from the Athletics for John Cox and Gary Jones

I’m only including this one because Jones, an infielder signed by the Cubs as an undrafted free agent in 1982, eventually returned to the team as third-base coach in 2014, and stayed through 2017. Thus he got a Cubs World Series ring.

Stephenson played in 17 games for the Cubs in 1989 and then was sent to the Padres in a deal we’ll cover later. He’s the only one of the four players in this deal who played in the majors at all.

June 30: Acquired Ed Lynch from the Mets for Dave Liddell and Dave Lenderman

Lynch, who famously got into a brawl with Keith Moreland at a Cubs/Mets game in Wrigley in August 1984, was now a Cub — and Moreland’s teammate. This 1987 Tribune article says the two players were all good:

‘’Keith and I laugh about it now,’’ said Lynch, who was traded to the Cubs last year. ‘’I just felt it was something that had to be done. We were getting annihilated. And, of course, I`m not a headhunter. I never have been. So I just hit him in the butt and let him know that I`m not going to go out there and get annihilated and not do anything.’’

Lynch`s purpose pitch infuriated Moreland, and the burly former Texas football player raced to the mound and tackled Lynch, setting off a bench-clearing brawl.

‘’That was a good, clean, hard professional baseball series,’’ said Lynch. ‘’There were no hard feelings. There was a lot of respect for each other.’’

Lynch had a decent half-season with the Cubs, posting a 3.79 ERA and 1.8 bWAR in 23 games (13 starts). He wasn’t as good in ‘87 and retired, eventually getting a law degree and becoming director of player development for the Padres. He became an assistant GM for the Mets in 1994 and was named Cubs GM October 10, 1994. Lynch’s tenure as GM was controversial and way too long for this sort of article. He served in that capacity until he resigned in 2000, then spent 16 years scouting for the Cubs.

Neither Liddell nor Lenderman ever played in the majors.

July 21: Acquired Frank DiPino from the Astros for Davey Lopes

Lopes actually had good numbers for the Cubs as a part-time player in ‘86: .299/.419/.490 in 59 games, with 17 stolen bases. But the Cubs were out of contention and the Astros wanted him on their bench as they went for the N.L. West title. He only played briefly in the NLCS, though, then a few games in ‘87 and retired.

DiPino pitched three middling years for the Cubs for a total of 0.7 bWAR and then departed as a free agent.

August 13: Acquired Ron Davis and Dewayne Coleman from the Twins for George Frazier, Ray Fontenot and Julius McDougal

Attempting to reclaim some value from Davis, who had been sent to the Yankees for Ken Holtzman eight years earlier, Green got him back from the Twins. Davis had four good years in Minnesota from 1982-85 but by the time the Cubs got him back he was done. He posted a 6.54 ERA in 38 games for the Cubs in ‘86 and ‘87 and they released him in August.

Frazier got a World Series ring with the Twins in ‘87, though in general he didn’t do too well for them (4.83 ERA, 0.3 bWAR in 69 games). Fontenot pitched in 15 games for Minnesota with a 9.92 ERA (-1.0 bWAR) and was released.

Coleman and McDougal never played in the majors.

So that’s 0.7 bWAR for the Twins from the deal and -0.9 bWAR for the Cubs from Davis. They might as well have not bothered. Overall these are a C-.

The next installment in this series will bring some major deals.


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