The Royals have made some brilliant trades in club history, particularly in the early days of the franchise. Lou Piniella, John Mayberry, Fred Patek, Amos Otis, Charlie Leibrandt, Bud Black, and Jeff Montgomery are some of the players obtained in shrewd trades that paid off handsomely for the Royals.
But there are also those trades that backfired. Either the Royals misjudged talent, or they were boxed in a corner over finances, in any case these trades are the ones you would like to have back. Which trade still grinds your gears to this day? Here are a few candidates.
March 27, 1987: David Cone and Chris Jelic to the Mets for Ed Hearn, Mauro Gozzo, and Rick Anderson
For a long time, this was the most infamous trade in Royals history. The Royals took a hometown kid in David Cone, and shipped him out of town for an oft-injured catcher named Ed Hearn. Eventually, Hearn’s name became a curse word in Kansas City as Cone blossomed into an All-Star. However, Cone was just a reliever with poor command in the minors when he was traded, certainly not a surefire future 20-game winner. Hearn seemed like a Major League-ready catcher, to stabilize a position that had been uncertain since the team let Darrell Porter leave. Perhaps we were too unfair to Ed Hearn?
April 6, 1995: David Cone to the Blue Jays for Chris Stynes, Tony Medrano, and David Sinnes
Not only did the Royals give up David Cone once, they did it again over a decade later. Cone returned to Kansas City as a big time free agent and won a Cy Young Award in 1994. However, owner Muriel Kauffman died in the spring of 1995, and when the work stoppage was over and the owners had gotten few concessions to reign in salaries, the Royals felt they had no choice but to drastically cut payroll. That meant shipping Cone out immediately, and they sent him to the Blue Jays for a handful of prospects that never panned out.
January 8, 2001: Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to the Athletics in a three-team trade for Roberto Hernandez, Angel Berroa, and A.J. Hinch
The Royals had been shopping Damon for over a year after he rejected a low contract extension offer. The Dodgers and Mariners had both been after him, but L.A. balked at giving up Eric Gagne, and the Mariners proposed a complicated three-team deal that fell apart. Instead, the Royals turned to Billy Beane to help land them a prospect (Berroa) and a proven closer in Hernandez to save their mess of a bullpen. The bullpen continued to be a mess, and Damon enjoyed a playoff run in Oakland.
July 25, 2001: Jermaine Dye to the Athletics in a three-team trade for Neifi Perez
When I learned of this trade, I threw things. Dye was a pretty popular player, an All-Star, and a Gold Glover. The team had high expectations with their terrific offense and the addition of Hernandez to solidify the bullpen, but by the summer they were struggling again. They pressed the Yankees to get Alfonso Soriano in a deal, but were rebuffed. They shocked everyone by dumping him to the A’s in a three-team trade that sent prospects to the Colorado Rockies, but gave the Royals shortstop Neifi Perez. Perez was a malcontent former Gold Glover whose offensive numbers were obviously inflated by playing at Coors. The deal didn’t even save them much money, it just gave them a declining player who eventually became one of the most unpopular players in franchise history.
June 24, 2004: Carlos Beltran to the Astros in a three-team trade for Mark Teahen, John Buck, and Mike Wood
With the Damon and Dye experiences behind them, Royals fans just counted the days until Carlos Beltran was dealt. The team had their surprising run in 2003, but when they stumbled in 2004, the writing was on the wall. The Royals were dead set on getting a third baseman and catcher in return for Beltran. The Red Sox showed great interest, dangling Kevin Youkilis, while the Yankees showcased an infielder named Robinson Cano at third to entice the Royals. Eventually, the Royals again engineered a three-team deal, sending Beltran to Houston and landing the third baseman (Teahen) and catcher (Buck) they coveted.
July 10, 2009: Dan Cortes and Derrick Saito to the Mariners for Yuniesky Betancourt
In the fourth season of the Dayton Moore administration, the franchise had made little progress at the Major League level. The trade for Yuniesky Betancourt was a sign that perhaps things wouldn’t work out under the new GM. The Royals had not had a solid shortstop in over a decade, but in Betancourt, they were taking a chance on a player with no plate discipline, questionable work ethic, and shaky defense. Luckily, Moore was able to include Betancourt in a trade to Milwaukee the following year, but not before he earned a nickname among some Royals fans “Batter Nine, You Sucky!”
November 7, 2011: Melky Cabrera to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo
The Royals offered contract extensions to two young outfielder they had picked up - Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy was open to staying, Melky was not. So the Royals shipped Cabrera with one year until free agency to San Francisco to bolster their pitching staff. It seemed like a reasonable deal at the time - Sanchez had upside, could miss bats, and once tossed a no-hitter. But he was an abject disaster in Kansas City, while Cabrera went on to become All-Star Game MVP in a game played in Kansas City, no less.
December 9, 2012: Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis
This may be a puzzling candidate for many fans, but for some fans it may be a trade they’d like to have back. The addition of Shields solidified the rotation, gave the Royals the veteran presence they desired, and the throw-in of Wade Davis eventually turned into the most dominant reliever in the game. But some fans felt the Royals should have kept big time prospects Myers and Odorizzi and signed a free agent pitcher instead. Would they still have won two pennants and a championship that way?
December 7, 2016: Wade Davis to the Cubs for Jorge Soler
The Royals were at a crossroads in the winter of 2016, with two paths ahead of them. Either push all their chips in and try their hardest to win a championship in 2017, or being the rebuild process by tearing it all down. The picked a third option - try to do both. Complicating matters was a forearm injury suffered by Davis in 2016 that may have given some teams pause. But by trading him for a young Major Leaguer, the Royals may have hurt the rebuild AND hurt their chances of competing at the same time. Soler could still make this trade pan out, but it seemed puzzling at the time.
Which trade still grinds your gears?
This poll is closed
David Cone for Ed Hearn
David Cone to the Blue Jays
Johnny Damon to the A’s
Jermaine Dye to the A’s
Carlos Beltran to the Astros
Acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt
Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez
Acquiring James Shields
Wade Davis for Jorge Soler