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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 1993

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes bats for the Cubs
Getty Images

Larry Himes, still Cubs general manager in ‘93, made just one trade in the 1992-93 offseason, which we covered in the last installment. The rest of his offseason was signing a number of free agents. The biggest names were Randy Myers, Candy Maldonado and Dave Smith. Only one of those worked out. (More on Maldonado below.)

The biggest move was a non-move, the failure to re-sign Greg Maddux as a free agent. Instead, that money was spent on Myers and Jose Guzman. I think you know how that worked out.

Himes didn’t make a player-for-player trade until June.

June 1: Acquired Jose Hernandez from the Indians for Heathcliff Slocumb

The charmingly-named Slocumb had some moments for the Cubs, but overall posted a 4.45 ERA in 92 games for the North Siders. He didn’t do much in Cleveland, either, and they traded him to the Phillies. He went on to have some pretty good years as a closer there and in Boston, making the AL All-Star team in ‘95. Cleveland, though, got just 0.2 bWAR from him.

Meanwhile, Hernandez had some good seasons for the Cubs, beginning in 1994, as a sort of proto-Ben Zobrist — he played shortstop and third base mostly, but also had time at second base and in the outfield. In 1998 he batted .254/.311/.471 with 23 home runs, a 2.2 bWAR season for that year’s wild card Cubs team. They eventually traded him to the Braves in a lopsided bad deal, got him back in 2003 and then sent him away as part of one of the best deals in recent Cubs history, which we’ll cover later in this series.

From 1994-99 Hernandez posted 6.1 bWAR for the Cubs, so this deal was a pretty big win.

July 30: As part of a three-team trade, acquired Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes from the Royals and traded Paul Assenmacher to the Yankees. In addition, the Yankees sent John Habyan to the Royals

This was a deadline deal by a Cubs team that was well out of contention (remember, no wild card back then). Assenmacher pitched all right (3.12 ERA, 0.4 bWAR in 26 games) for the Yankees, then they traded him after the season.

Rhodes didn’t do much for the Cubs, a total of 0.7 bWAR, but he did have one big game, his three-homer game on Opening Day 1994, all off Mets ace Dwight Gooden. Those homers didn’t help as the Cubs lost the game 12-8.

Rhodes went on to play 13 years in Japan, where he hit 464 home runs and became one of the most popular Americans ever to play in NPB. In 2001 he hit 55 home runs, tying the NPB record held by the legendary Sadaharu Oh. He was the first non-Japanese player to hold the single season NPB home run record. The record was broken in 2013 by Wladimir Balentien, a former MLB outfielder, who hit 60 in NPB that year.

Habyan posted 0.0 bWAR in Kansas City in ‘93 and played three more years for the Cardinals, Angels and Rockies.

This deal was a win for the Cubs.

August 19: Acquired Glenallen Hill from the Indians for Candy Maldonado

Maldonado — I just can’t figure this out. He had hit .272/.357/.462 with 20 home runs in 137 games for the Blue Jays in ‘92. He’d had other similar years. He was just 31. The Cubs signed him to a two-year, $3.3 million deal, not that much even in those days.

And then, clunk. Maldonado hit .208/.287/.348 with eight home runs in 98 games for the Cubs and seemed miserable. He didn’t hit much better in Cleveland in ‘93 or ‘94 and split 1995 with Toronto and Texas, then retired.

Hill, meanwhile, smashed 10 home runs in just 31 games for the Cubs in ‘93, batting .345/.387/.770, and hit 10 more in 89 games in ‘94 with a .297/.365/.461 slash. So what did the Cubs do? They let him walk as a free agent. He had three decent years with the Giants, then signed with the Mariners. The Cubs got him back in ‘98 on waivers and again he did nothing but hit: .351/.414/.573 with eight home runs in 48 games. He stayed with the Cubs until mid-2000 when they shipped him to the Yankees.

But not before he did this:

Chip Caray said, “I have never seen that!” and no one has since — it is, to my knowledge, the only ball ever hit onto a Wrigley rooftop during a game.

If the NL had had the DH in that era, Hill would have been perfect for the role. He wasn’t a very good outfielder — negative defensive bWAR during his career — but man, that guy could hit.

In 331 games in two stints with the Cubs, Hill hit .304/.360/.546 with 59 home runs and 4.7 bWAR, and one rooftop homer. Another win for the Cubs.

November 24: Acquired Willie Banks from the Twins for Matt Walbeck and Dave Stevens

Stevens and Walbeck were both Cubs minor leaguers at the time of the trade (Walbeck had played 11 games for the Cubs as a September callup in ‘93), and both had some MLB time in Minnesota. Neither had positive bWAR for the Twins, though. The Cubs actually reacquired Stevens on waivers in ‘97, but his 5.70 ERA in 41 Cubs games in ‘97 and ‘98 was pretty bad.

Meanwhile, many of us dubbed Banks “the second-best Banks ever to play for the Cubs,” and that was undeniably true. Banks made 33 appearances (23 starts) for the Cubs in ‘94 and ‘95 with a 6.18 ERA and -1.8 bWAR before they sent him to the Dodgers for a minor leaguer named Dax Winslett, who never played in the majors.

Negative bWAR for both teams in this deal? I’ll declare this a losing trade for both sides.

December 10: Acquired Larry Luebbers, Darron Cox and Mike Anderson from the Reds for Chuck McElroy

None of the players acquired in this deal played a single MLB game for the Cubs. Luebbers posted a 6.04 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) for Triple-A Iowa in ‘94, then the Reds claimed him back on waivers at the end of the season. Cox, a catcher, played two years at Iowa without a callup, then he signed with the Braves as a free agent after ‘95. (Didn’t play in the majors for them, either.) Anderson pitched two years at Iowa without distinction, then in the Rangers and Dodgers minor leagues before finishing with two years in Korea.

McElroy had one good year and two bad ones in Cincinnati (total 1.2 bWAR), then went on a six-year odyssey in which he pitched for the Angels, White Sox, Rockies, Mets, Orioles and Padres.

The Reds got a bit of positive bWAR from McElroy and the Cubs got nothing, so the Reds “win” this trade.

December 19: Acquired Rafael Novoa and Mike Carter from the Brewers for Bob Scanlan

Scanlan’s best MLB seasons were with the Cubs: 179 games from ‘91 to ‘93 with a 3.75 ERA and 15 saves. He wasn’t very good in Milwaukee... or Kansas City, or Montreal, or Houston, or Detroit, his next stops in his MLB career.

Since 2012 Scanlan has been an analyst on Padres radio and TV broadcasts.

Novoa never pitched in the majors for the Cubs, or anyone else after 1993. He posted a 5.24 ERA in 27 games (23 starts) at Iowa, and later in the White Sox, Mets and Angels organizations.

Again, a deal with little value for either team.

Himes made a couple of decent trades early in ‘93, but got pretty much nothing later, so I’ll give these a B-.


Give the Cubs a grade for their 1993 trades.

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