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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 1992

One VERY important deal was made in this calendar year.

Sammy Sosa bats for the Cubs in 1993
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Larry Himes spent his first offseason as Cubs GM signing a bunch of free agents, only one of whom (Mike Morgan) had any real impact on the Cubs in ‘92.

And then he made one very important trade.

March 30: Acquired Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson from the White Sox for George Bell

Bell actually had a decent year for the Cubs in ‘91 (25 HR, an All-Star nod) but seemed very unhappy and wanted to be traded, and Himes granted Bell’s wish by sending him to the South Side (and more than $7 million of salary, which the Sox paid).

You know most of this story already. Himes had been Sox GM and had traded Harold Baines to Texas for Sosa, and really wanted him on the North Side as well. Sosa became popular, though his first year was marred by injury. He hit 33 home runs in 1993 and never looked back.

Whether you think Sammy should or shouldn’t return to the North Side without apologizing, there is no doubt about his impact on the Cubs for 13 years, 545 home runs and 58.8 bWAR.

Bell played two mediocre years for the Sox, then retired. This was a big win for the Cubs in several different ways.

Patterson pitched one year for the Cubs, was pretty mediocre, and left as a free agent. His only start for the Cubs, among 32 total appearances, was in quite the memorable game, though.

June 27: Acquired Kal Daniels from the Dodgers for a PTBNL

Daniels was a real interesting player. He was a walk machine — led the NL in OBP (.397) in 1988 and had some mid-range power.

Knee injuries ruined a lot of what he could have been. Why he didn’t try to find his way to an AL team after the Cubs let him go after ‘92 is a mystery. He hit .250/.328/.417 with four home runs in 28 games for the Cubs and was released after the season. He never played professional baseball again.

The PTBNL was Mike Sodders, who never played in the majors.

Fun fact: Daniels’ actual given name was Kalvoski.

July 7: Acquired Jeff Kunkel from the Brewers for Ced Landrum

Landrum stole 27 bases in only 56 games for the Cubs in 1991, but could not hit (.592 OPS).

Kunkel, who was the third overall pick in the 1983 Draft, couldn’t really hit either (.623 OPS and 232 strikeouts in 838 at-bats for Texas from 1984-90). Then he missed the entire 1991 season with serious knee injuries.

Kunkel went 4-for-29 with eight strikeouts in 20 games for the Cubs and was released in September. Landrum never played for Milwaukee, but appeared in a few games for the Mets in ‘93.

Call this a lose-lose trade.

Fun fact: Kunkel’s father Bill pitched briefly for the A’s and Yankees from 1961-63 and then became an American League umpire from 1968-84. The elder Kunkel umpired one game in which his son played, a spring training game in Florida in ‘84. Jeff brought out the Rangers’ lineup card.

July 11: Acquired Steve Buechele from the Pirates for Danny Jackson

Jackson had been signed to an expensive free-agent deal by Jim Frey that never panned out on the North Side. He went 5-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 36 games (33 starts) for the Cubs.

Magically, it seemed, he was rejuvenated in Pittsburgh, posting a 3.36 ERA in 15 starts. That got him signed to a two-year deal by the Phillies, where he posted good years in both 1993 and 1994 and pitched for Philadelphia in the ‘93 World Series.

Jackson made a lot of money and was only modestly good, based on one huge year he’d had in Cincinnati in 1988.

Oh, yes, Buechele. He hit reasonably well for the Cubs, posting a 3.5 bWAR season with 27 doubles and 15 home runs in 1993. By ‘95, though, he was just about done and the Cubs released him.

There was value on both sides of this deal, but the Cubs got more than the Pirates did, so I’ll call it a win.

November 17: Acquired Greg Hibbard from the Marlins for Alex Arias and Gary Scott

Hibbard had been selected by the Marlins in the expansion draft that day and then swapped to the Cubs. But before we discuss him, let’s talk about Gary Scott.

Scott had a spectacular Spring Training in 1991 and, at age 22, was given the Cubs’ starting third base job. At age 22. Without having played more than 35 games above A ball.

Well, that was a mistake. Scott was overmatched and sent to Triple-A after batting .165/.305/.241 with one home run in 31 games. He didn’t hit well at Iowa, either — .593 OPS with just three home runs in 63 games. His confidence appeared totally gone, the mid-range power he’d shown in the lower minors gone.

The Cubs tried him again for a while in ‘92 and the results were even worse: .156/.198/.240 with two home runs in 36 games. The Marlins didn’t even give him a chance, trading him to the Reds, who then swapped him to the Twins. He never played in the majors again after 1992.

I still think that Scott, if he’d had a normal minor league progression, might have become a decent MLB player. But the way he was handled completely messed him up. It’s really a shame.

Arias had a long career as a good-field, no-hit backup infielder, mostly with the Marlins, with whom he got a World Series ring in 1997.

Hibbard had four good-to-decent years as a White Sox starter, but he was all sinkerball and ground ball — he averaged only 3.6 strikeouts per nine innings for the Sox, which was low even for that era. He had a perfectly fine fifth starter type year with the Cubs — 15-11, 3.96 ERA, 0.6 bWAR. The Cubs allowed him to leave via free agency and he signed with the Mariners, for whom he posted frighteningly bad numbers, a 6.69 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). He’d had a shoulder injury and despite a couple of attempts to come back, never pitched in the majors again. He wound up coaching for many years in the Cleveland organization.

Fun fact: Hibbard’s last start for the Cubs was September 29, 1993, in which he allowed one run in seven innings in a 6-1 win over the Dodgers. It would be 422 games until the Cubs would have another lefthander start a game — Terry Mulholland on April 1, 1997 against the Marlins in Miami.

I’ll give these trades a B, mostly because of Sosa and Buechele. The rest of them were pretty useless.


Give the Cubs a grade for their 1992 trades.

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