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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 1994

It was a quiet trade year, largely because of the labor dispute.

Scott Bullett
Getty Images

Despite losing Greg Maddux and making some other bad moves, GM Larry Himes somehow got the Cubs to an 84-78 record in 1993. That was the first time any Cubs team had finished with a winning record and NOT made the postseason since 1946.

Regardless, Himes fired manager Jim Lefebvre and replaced him with Tom Trebelhorn. Two pitchers who had been contributors in ‘93, Greg Hibbard and Mike Harkey, left and to replace them, Himes signed... Chuck Crim as a free agent.

Between all that and the strike which cancelled the last third of the season and the World Series, very little trade action happened anywhere in baseball after midseason. The Cubs made only three player-for-player trades during the calendar year of 1994.

The Cubs fired Larry Himes October 11, 1994 and replaced him with Ed Lynch.

March 29: Acquired Scott Bullett from the Pirates for Travis Willis

Bullett had stolen a lot of bases in the low minors — 63 in A ball in ‘91 — and the Cubs hoped he’d continue to do that. They never gave him much playing time, though. After he spent ‘94 at Triple-A Iowa, in 104 games in ‘95 he had only 164 MLB plate appearances. He hit reasonably well that year, .273/.331/.460, but with just eight steals. The following year: .212/.256/.297, not as good, and was released.

He went on to a long career playing in Taiwan, Japan and the Mexican League, still active as recently as 2006. After his career he settled in Welland, Ontario, where he runs the Bullettproof Baseball Academy.

Willis never played in the majors, so this one’s a win for the Cubs.

March 30: Acquired Anthony Young and Ottis Smith from the Mets for Jose Vizcaino

Young had famously broken the longest pitching losing streak, 18, while pitching for the Mets at Wrigley Field in 1993. The mark eventually reached 27, but truth be told, this record should never have been set. Young started against the Cubs at Wrigley Field June 1, 1993 and pitched one of the better games of his career: six shutout innings, allowing only three hits. At the time, his loss streak was at 19.

Dallas Green, who was the Mets manager at the time, lifted Young after just 84 pitches with the Mets leading 1-0. He must have figured that the Mets would win the game and end Young’s streak. The Cubs scored eight runs off the Mets’ bullpen, so Young wound up with a no-decision that day.

Young wasn’t a bad pitcher and had two decent years and 1.3 bWAR for the Cubs in 1994 and 1995. He died of a brain tumor in 2017, far too young at just 51.

Vizcaino played 13 years after the trade, playing in 1,446 games for the Mets, Indians, Giants, Yankees, Astros and Cardinals. He appeared in six postseasons and got a ring with the 2000 Yankees. With the Mets, he posted 2.3 bWAR, so the deal was a small win for the Mets.

Overall, though, the Cubs should probably have just kept Vizcaino, who was a useful backup infielder for a long time.

Smith never played in the major leagues.

April 12: Acquired Kevin Foster from the Phillies for Shawn Boskie

Boskie pitched five seasons after the deal for the Phillies, Mariners, Angels, Orioles and Expos, and wasn’t very good for any of them. He had -0.2 bWAR in his one year in Philadelphia and in 1996 with the Angels, led MLB with 40 home runs allowed (in 189x innings).

Foster, a Chicago-area native (Evanston Township High School) was happy to return home to pitch. He’d been a 29th-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1987 and was traded to the Mariners before a swap to the Phillies had him making his MLB debut for them in ‘93.

He had 13 good starts (2.89 ERA, 1.8 bWAR) for the Cubs in ‘94 but was not as good in ‘95, like his trade-mate Boskie, leading MLB in HR allowed (32 in 167x innings). Rough years in ‘96 and ‘97 led to an injury that had him miss most of ‘98 and all of ‘99. He then went through several organizations (Brewers, Red Sox, Rangers and Reds), making nine relief appearances for the Rangers in 2001.

Foster died of renal cancer in 2008, way too young at 37.

The Cubs did get some value from these trades, but overall probably should have kept Vizcaino. C+ for ‘94.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This series will go on hiatus until after the Winter Meetings next week, during which we hope to hear of some current Cubs trades. It will resume Monday, December 11.


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