Before Correa, 12 movements of impact that did not materialize
In one of the most unlikely free agency sagas we’ve ever seen, star shortstop Carlos Correa nearly signed contracts worth more than $300 million with the Giants and Mets before sign for six years with the Twins.
Correa’s contract marathon got us thinking: What other impact trades, whether through free agency or the trade, were nearly complete? We are talking about movements that would have changed the history of the Major Leagues.
Here’s a look at the impact moves that almost happened:
Roberto Clemente almost signed with the Giants, 1954
Before becoming a legend with the Pirates, Clemente signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. He was then selected by Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 Draft. The rest is history.
But before the Dodgers signed him, the Giants were after his services. Brooklyn, surely terrified to imagine Clemente next to Willie Mays in the Giants’ outfield, made the Puerto Rican a better offer.
It seems likely that Clemente would have signed with the Giants if the Dodgers hadn’t gotten in the way. Supposedly the future Hall of Famer wanted to play in New York because he had family there.
The Yankees almost sent Don Mattingly to the Giants for Will Clark, 1988
Mattingly was the top first baseman in the majors in the mid-1980s, and Clark surpassed him as such in the second half of the decade, 3,000 miles away. Although both the Yankees and Giants denied rumors that this trade almost happened, Peter Gammons — writing at the time for Sports Illustrated magazine — reported that it did, indeed, come close to happening in 1988.
“Mattingly was informed during the World Series by sources outside the Yankees that (owner George) Steinbrenner had reached a deal with the Giants that would have sent Mattingly and pitcher Rick Rhoden to San Francisco in exchange for first baseman Will. Clark and pitchers Atlee Hammaker and Craig Lefferts,” Gammons wrote. “But the Giants decided not to trade left-handers when they learned that another left-hander on the team, Dave Dravecky, had a tumor on his throwing arm.”
The Yankees almost sent Rickey Henderson to the Giants, 1989
Another huge trade between the Yankees and Giants that almost happened? That’s how it is. On June 21, 1989, Henderson was traded to the A’s, whom he helped win the World Series against their cross-Bay rivals, the Giants. But two days before that trade, Henderson was almost sent to the Giants.
According to various reports at the time, Henderson had vetoed a deal between the Yankees and Giants that would have sent the career stolen-base leader to San Francisco in exchange for Candy Maldonado and Scott Garrelts.
The Pirates almost sent Barry Bonds to the Braves, 1992
Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz and the Pirates agreed in principle to a trade that would have sent reliever Alejandro Peña and outfield prospect Keith Mitchell to Pittsburgh for Bonds, who had been named NL MVP. in 1990 and that a few months later he would win the award for the second time.
Imagine if that change had become a reality. Would the Braves have had a better record than their 1-4 record in the five World Series they participated in during the ’90s?
Peña had a very good season in 1991 at age 32, posting a 2.40 ERA in 59 appearances between the Mets and Braves. But in the last five years of his major league career, his ERA was 4.57. On his side, Mitchell made his Major League debut in 1991 for Atlanta and hit .318/.392/.409 in 74 plate appearances. But after that, he played in just 80 major league games.
All Bonds did from then until the end of his career was be MVP six other times and set the single-season and all-time records for home runs.
Barry Bonds almost signed with the Yankees, 1992
In the same year that Bonds was nearly traded to the Braves, and just after his Pirates fell short of their third straight NLCS with heart-wrenching pain against Atlanta, it looked like Bonds would be leaving as free agent this winter. What was not known, obviously, was where the gunboat would sign.
Now we know the answer, but it was almost something else entirely. Bonds told Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez during his “KayRod” simulcast on ESPN during a Sunday game in September that he was “very close” to signing with the Yankees.
“It was very close for 15 or 20 minutes,” Bonds said. “…The Yankees offered me the same contract, I think, that Ryne Sandberg had at the time (with the Cubs) or a little bit more than that.”
Bonds said his agent informed the Yankees that he would be in touch again, and Bonds went to lunch. By the time he arrived at the restaurant, the Giants had made him a better offer than New York’s — six years and $43.75 million. The rest, as they say, is history.
Greg Maddux almost signed with the Yankees, 1992
The winter of 1992 was full of changes that almost happened, but not the end. Maddux said on David Cone’s podcast last year that he was ready to sign with the Yankees before the 1992 season, when he won the first of his four National League Cy Young Awards in the final season of his first tenure with the Yankees. puppies. But apparently someone in the New York front office suffered a heart attack while Maddux was headed to the Big Apple to sign with the Yankees, and the pitcher never received an offer.
Meanwhile, the Braves were preparing their own offer for the right-hander, and since Atlanta was Maddux’s first choice, he stopped there with a five-year, $28 million deal. Maddux in the Bronx would have been amazing. Imagine him joining New York’s rotation just before the Yankees won four World Series titles in the space of five years.
The Yankees almost traded Mariano Rivera to the Mariners for Félix Fermín, 1996
What did they say? Now remember, at the time it almost happened, the Panamanian in his career had a 5.51 ERA in 67 innings in the majors. The Yankees were also looking for a short-term solution at shortstop until a rookie named Derek Jeter was ready to start at shortstop — Jeter was expected to be the Opening Day starting shortstop, but he wasn’t doing well. in Spring Training.
Here come the Mariners, who were willing to send Fermín to New York in exchange for Rivera. The Dominican wasn’t a star, but he was talented enough and could fill the void until Jeter was ready. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had this to say about the possible move: “I think we were a little on the fence.”
You can imagine how different things would have been if the transfer had gone through. Rivera to the Mariners, Fermin enters the 1996 season at shortstop for the Bombers, and Jeter returns to Triple-A or — would he even have been… traded?
In the end, things worked out for the Yankees — Rivera and Jeter helped the Bronx team win its first World Series in 18 years that same fall, and then helped win four more titles en route to a Hall of Famer berth. Fame for everyone.
The Expos almost sent Pedro Martínez to Cleveland for Bartolo Colón, Jaret Wright and prospects, 1997
Pedro could have won a pair of Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000 in Cleveland instead of Boston. But Cleveland reportedly backed down because it wanted to keep Wright, who was just 21 years old and had just pitched very well in the World Series against the Marlins.
Colon eventually moved from Cleveland to Montreal in the trade that sent the Dominican to Canada along with right-hander Tim Drew for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens in June 2002.
Two years later, the Hall of Famer helped the Red Sox win their first title since 1918. For its part, Cleveland hasn’t won since 1948.
The Mariners almost traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Mets, 1999
In December 1999, the Mariners were in a tough spot — they wanted to extend the greatest player in franchise history, but he wasn’t ready to sign a new contract because he wanted to be closer to his family in Florida. . The Reds were the prime choice for a possible trade, because Griffey’s hometown was Cincinnati, his father — who played with the Big Red Machine in the mid-1970s — was a coach for the team, and he remained Closer to Orlando than Seattle.
But the deal with the Reds hit a snag, and an opportunity presented itself for the Mets during the Winter Meetings in Southern California. In fact, Seattle and New York reached an initial agreement, needing only Griffey to give it the go-ahead. The trade would have sent Roger Cedeño, Octavio Dotel and Armando Benítez to the Mariners for Griffey.
The Mets were so confident that the trade would go through that officials informed veteran Todd Zeile, who wanted to sign with New York, that Griffey would be joining the team and that signing Zeile would be difficult. The infielder was even ready to adjust his contract to make it all come true.
But in the end, it fell through because Griffey rejected the trade. He eventually moved to the Reds before the 2000 season.
The Rangers almost sent Alex Rodríguez to the Red Sox for Manny Ramírez and Jon Lester, 2004
This transaction came pretty close to being made official, and if it had, who knows how different baseball history would have been.
Texas signed A-Rod to what was then a record 10-year, $252 million contract before the 2001 season. But the Rangers finished last in each of the next three seasons and included the superstar in the exchange market. The move with Boston would have gone for slugger Ramirez and a lefty prospect named Jon Lester.
However, he did not see the green light, because the Players Union opposed it because for it to happen, Rodríguez would have had to accept a reduction in his salary (something he was willing to do).
The Marlins almost sent Miguel Cabrera to the Angels, 2007
Picture this: Venezuelan slugger and Dominican Vlad Sr. in the same lineup. It almost came true when the Fish almost sent the future MVP and Triple Crown winner to Anaheim, where he would have been a teammate of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr.
It would have come to fruition if the Angels had been willing to part with some pitching prospects. According to an ESPN report back then, that was the roadblock. The Marlins apparently asked for more pitching in return.
According to Jayson Stark, if the Angels had included Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders or Nick Adenhart with the already agreed players — Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis — Cabrera would have ended up in Anaheim instead of Detroit, where he has honed his worthy record. of the Hall of Fame.
The Royals almost traded Zack Greinke to the Nationals, 2010
Before they finally won the World Series in 2019, the Nationals had failed to get past the NL Division Series in four of the past seven years. Would they have won their first World Series much sooner if they had enlisted Greinke’s services before the 2011 season?
It was close. Greinke himself put an end to the possibility by rejecting the trade because he didn’t think Washington was shaping up to be a contender. Instead, Kansas City sent the Cy Young Award winner to the Brewers, where he made just 49 starts before being dealt to the Angels.
After finishing the 2012 season with the Angels, Greinke signed with the Dodgers, where he posted a 2.30 ERA over the next three years. The right-hander has kept his good side ever since, pitching for the D-backs and Astros before returning to the Monarchs last year.