On this date in 1983, Chicago’s baseball teams pulled off their biggest deal with each other.
This was more than a routine trade, though.
There was strategy, bluffing, saving face, blaring headlines, scrutiny , drama … Good stuff.
In the middle of a contentious rebuild, blustery Cubs general manager Dallas Green was faced With the prospect of being embarrassed or being swindled by his crosstown rival.
Green chose the latter but some would say both happened.
On this day 33 years ago, the White Sox and general manager Roland Hemond acquired infielders Scott Fletcher and Pat Tabler and pitchers Dick Tidrow and Randy Martz from the Cubs for starting pitcher Steve Trout and reliever Warren Brusstar.
The biggest swap between Chicago’s Major League teams came after the White Sox flirted with selecting future Hall of Famer Jenkins, who was the Cubs’ best pitcher in 1982 and one of the most popular players in franchise history, as compensation for losing free agent outfielder Steve Kemp.
The compensation for free agent loss was born out of the 1981 players strike and would net the Sox Tom Seaver a year later and got them Joel Skinner after the 1981 campaign.
Under the rules of the day, teams that lost a free agent were allowed to pick a from a pool of unprotected players as compensation.
The Cubs left Jenkins unprotected figuring teams would not waste their time on 39-year old pitcher with a big ($500,000) contract. It is for those reasons the Mets left Seaver unprotected a year later.
The Cubs got to keep Jenkins (the Sox chose pitcher Steve Mura from the Cardinals instead) but had to surrender three promising players and established setup man in exchange for the enigmatic Trout and adequate Brusstar.
When the whole matter was settled Green said he was “relieved.”
Man, did the Chicago Tribune have a field day with this one, too.
“Sox feast on hostage Cubs,” blared one headline. “Tiny Roland puts big hit on Dallas,” read another.
The deal was more sizzle than steak with none of the principles having a long term impact on their new teams.
Fletcher and Tidrow were contributors to the Sox A.L. West title team in 1983 and Trout was a member of the Cubs’ 1984 N.L. East Division title team but none of the members of this trade ever blossomed into star.