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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Today in Baseball History: The White Sox trade Sammy Sosa to the Cubs

In July of 1985 the Texas Rangers signed Sammy Sosa out of the Dominican Republic. He was just one of many rising young talents that rebuilding Rangers team would develop in the mid-to-late 80s. By the dawn of the 1989 season he, along with an about-to-truly-break-out Ruben Sierra, the recently-acquired Rafael Palmerio, and young pitchers Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, and Wilson Alvarez were all poised to be a part of the next good Rangers club.

And that 1989 club — which also featured veteran pitchers Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough, veteran hitter Julio Franco and a powerful young slugger named Pete Incaviglia — was good, at least for a little while. The powerful Oakland A’s owned the AL West at the time, but Texas broke out pretty quickly, fell back a bit, but by late June had climbed to within two games of the Bash Brothers. That inspired General Manager Tom Grieve to add a bat. He found a trading partner in Larry Himes, GM for the Chicago White Sox.

The bat he added: Harold Baines, who had been raking for the White Sox in the first 96 games of the season. The price for Baines: young Sammy Sosa, who had gotten his first taste of the big leagues in June and early July. He wasn’t ready for it and was a liability in 88 plate appearances. Years later, President George W. Bush, who was the owner of the Rangers at the time of the trade, would cite his approval of the Baines-Sosa deal as his biggest regret, but it made a good deal of short-term sense at the time. Unfortunately for the Rangers Baines was pretty average in the season’s final couple of months. The Rangers faded badly in the dog days of August and finished the season 16 games back of the eventual World Series champ Athletics.

The White Sox were quite high on their new young, toolsy prospect at first. After the trade in 1989 Sosa put up a decent .273/.351/.414 (118 OPS+), which was certainly promising. In 1990, however, he’d falter, batting .233/.282/.404 with 15 homers in 579 plate appearances in his first full year in the bigs. He flashed some of the speed he had shown in the Rangers’ system — he stole 32 bases — but he was also caught stealing 16 times which was less-than-ideal. The next year he declined sharply, hitting only .203/.240/.335 with 10 homers. That July he’d earn a demotion to Triple-A. It was pretty clear he had played his way out of the White Sox’ future plans, even if he was only 22.

 

 

QLE Posted: March 31, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, history, sammy sosa, trades, white sox

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