Baseball Meat Market: The Stories Behind the Best and Worst Trades in History by Shawn Krest (2017)
When I think of the best and worst trades in history, I’ll admit I’m biased. The Reds unloading Frank Robinson at “an old thirty” ranks among the worst in my mind, while the acquisition of Joe Morgan (along with Cesar Geronimo and Jack Billingham) is one of the best. Lopsided deals like these are not the focus of Shawn Krest’s information Baseball Meat Market; rather, the author focuses on deals that generally helped both sides, some immediately (such as Doyle Alexander to the Tigers), and some over the long haul (like John Smoltz to the Braves in the same deal). There are a few bad trades among Krest’s twenty chapters, generally dealing with prospects that were dealt for next-to-nothing and later developed into major talents, such as Jay Buhner and Ryne Sandberg.
I truly enjoyed reading about Pat Gillick’s dealings with Joe McIlvane in the 1990 Winter Meetings, in which the two general managers shook things up by trading four All-Stars —Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez going to San Diego in exchange for Joe Carter and future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. Krest masterfully describes the back-and-forth in this and many other deals, and includes several incarnations of trades that never occurred. For instance, before the Tigers traded David Wells to the Reds in 1995, the Yankees offered them a minor league starter by the name of Mariano Rivera. Later in the year, before Boomer was dealt to Baltimore, the Yanks attempted to get the hefty lefty from Cincinnati for Rivera and Jorge Posada. As a Reds fan, I’m in tears at this revelation.
Krest examines a number of trades, most in the past few decades, including both 1998 trades involving Mike Piazza, Florida’s deal sending Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit (and some of the other “what-if” situations that were involved), the Alex Rodriguez debacle, Rick Sutcliffe, Von Hayes, Sammy Sosa, and more. The author does reach back into history a little further a few times, discussing the seventeen-player trade between the Yankees and Orioles in 1954 and the 1969 deal that sent Curt Flood to Philadelphia…where he refused to play, eventually ushering in free agency.
A well-researched and well-written book, baseball fans will love Krest’s Baseball Meat Market and the many hypotheticals trades that could have affected their favorite teams.