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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 1989

The Cubs were busy winning a division title this year, but the trade market was slow.

Paul Assenmacher
Getty Images

The Cubs, for the second time in five years, won an N.L. East title the year after a 90-loss season.

Much of the groundwork for the 1989 team had been laid in the offseason and so the team didn’t make any player-for-player transactions until very close to the deadline for qualifying for the postseason roster, which in those days was August 31.

August 24: Acquired Paul Assenmacher from the Braves for Kelly Mann and Pat Gomez

Assenmacher had been a useful middle reliever in Atlanta and continued to do that in Chicago through 1992, though the 14 games he played in late ‘89 for the Cubs weren’t very good (5.21 ERA in 19 innings).

Overall Assenmacher pitched in 243 games for the Cubs and posted a 3.42 ERA and averaged 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings. That was a pretty good rate in that era.

The Cubs traded him away after ‘92 and we’ll cover that later. He posted 5.1 bWAR for the Cubs in three seasons and part of a fourth. Neither of the players the Cubs sent to Atlanta ever played in the major leagues, so this was a win for the Cubs.

August 30: Acquired Luis Salazar and Marvell Wynne from the Padres for Calvin Schiraldi, Darrin Jackson and Phil Stephenson

Salazar hit very well in his month with the Cubs in ‘89, batting .325/.357/.425 with five doubles and a home run in 26 games. Then he hit even better in the NLCS, going 7-for-19 (.368) with a triple and a home run. Alas, it didn’t help the Cubs beat the Giants.

He remained with the Cubs through 1992, overall posting a .670 OPS in 342 games which was pretty close to his .673 career OPS. Overall it was worth only 0.9 bWAR, though.

Wynne, who had been decent in San Diego, did not do much at all for the Cubs (.588 OPS in 112 games in 1989 and 1990), his -1.3 bWAR completely negating Salazar’s.

Schiraldi gave the Padres 0.7 bWAR before he was released in early 1991. Jackson, who never really got a chance in Chicago, had four pretty good years in San Diego which were worth 9.0 bWAR, and he was still in the majors a decade later with the White Sox, for whom he still works as a radio analyst.

This was a bad deal for the Cubs.

November 20: Acquired Dave Clark from the Indians for Mitch Webster

Webster, as noted in the last installment in this series, never did much for the Cubs. He managed to post a 3.4 bWAR season in Cleveland in 1990, then was traded to the Pirates. Eventually he wound up his career with four seasons as a Dodger, playing with them in the postseason in 1995.

Clark was again a guy who would have been useful to the Cubs if the N.L. had the DH. He batted .275/.304/.409 with five home runs in 84 games and had negative bWAR (-0.4) and was released just before the ‘91 season began. The Cubs got him back in ‘97 but still didn’t have the DH (though he did DH in four interleague games that year), and he left as a free agent after the season.

Another loss for the Cubs on this one.

December 7: Acquired Jose Nunez from the Blue Jays for Paul Kilgus

Nunez made 21 appearances (10 starts) with a 6.53 ERA. Truth be told, I don’t have much of a recollection of him at all in blue pinstripes. He went on to have three really good years in Korea and two in Japan and was still pitching in the Mexican League as recently as 2005.

Kilgus made just 11 appearances for the Blue Jays in ‘90 and, like Nunez (-0.4), had negative bWAR (-0.2). He also pitched for the Orioles (1991) and Cardinals (1993). Per this article, he coached Little League teams for 18 years, finally making it to the Little League World Series in 2015.

I’ll have to give these a “D” because apart from Assenmacher, the Cubs got negative value in all these trades.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This series will resume Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.


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