Minnesota Twins: Ranking the 1970s Top Trades in each Year
By Otto Johnson
We continue our list of the Minnesota Twins top trades in each year, moving into the toughest decade the Twins have experienced in Minnesota: the 1970s.
After going over the Minnesota Twins top trades of the 1960s yesterday, we continue taking a look at the Minnesota Twins top trades of each season, continuing with the 1970s. The team struggled in the 1970s, but the this led to some pretty interesting trades.
For a trade to make this list, the Twins need to come out ahead in terms of WAR. Once we’ve gone over the top deal for every year, we will rank them to find out the top trade the Twins ever made. With that in mind, let’s get these rankings started.
1970 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade SS Bob Wissler and CF Herman Hill to the St. Louis Cardinals for P Sal Campisi and IF Jim Kennedy.
In 1970, the Twins made two trades, and neither trade is really worth taking about. Each trade didn’t really benefit either team, with prospects that wouldn’t have an impact at the major league level.
In this deal, the Twins gave up two minor leaguers who would never play an inning for the Cardinals while receiving one player who pitched in just six games. The Twins win this one because of those six games.
Result: +0.0 WAR after the Trade.
1971 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade C/OF Paul Powell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Bobby Darwin.
The Twins made several trades throughout the year to try and improve their squad. Acquiring Phil Roof, who was a good backup catcher was a good move, but bringing in Bobby Darwin for a struggling former first-round pick was a better deal.
Paul Powell only got twelve plate appearances for the Dodgers, while Darwin turned into a slugger who homered 70 times in under four seasons. Darwin was a really solid player for the team, and giving up a disappointing draft pick was a great deal.
Result: +5.4 WAR after the trade, added a talented slugger.
1972 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade P Wayne Granger to the St. Louis Cardinals for P John Cumberland and OF Larry Hisle.
This is one of the best trades the Twins made this decade, giving up an okay pitcher that they didn’t really need for a player that wouldn’t play a game for them (Cumberland) and one of the most underrated players in team history (Hisle).
Hisle ended up becoming one of the Twins most valuable players and an All-Star during the ’70s, and all the Twins gave up was Granger. Hisle ended up with a WAR of 17.2 over five seasons, while Granger ended up with a WAR of -0.7 over just half a season with the Cardinals.
Result: +17.9 WAR after the trade, added an All-Star outfielder to a team that sorely needed one.
1973 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade P Ken Gill to the Kansas City Royals for P Tom Burgmeier.
This is another trade where the Twins gave up a prospect in return for a very reliable player. Ken Gill never pitched an inning for the Royals or any other franchise, while the Twins added a player who finished 104 games over four seasons with the Twins.
Burgmeier also saved 23 games over a short period of time, helping the Twins get through a rough period in the 1970s. The best part of this trade was that the Twins gave up virtually nothing to bring an excellent reliever.
Result: +3.5 WAR after the trade, added a strong reliever.
1974 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade 1B Pat Bourque to the Oakland Athletics for P Dennis Myers and OF Dan Ford.
Pat Borque played for the Minnesota Twins for a little under two months after being traded to the Twins in August before being traded again in October to the Athletics. This was another trade, where a below average player brought back a really solid player.
Borque never played an inning in the MLB again after the 1974 season, while Dan Ford became a reliable contributor with 57 homers and 287 RBI over four years as a good starting outfielder for the Twins. The Twins ran away with one here.
Result: +6.8 WAR after the trades, added another really good player.
1975 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade OF Danny Walton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Bob Randall.
Yet again, the theme of the 1970s trades is: Twins trade away a player that ends up being worth very little while getting a decent player in return. This trade is another extremely good example of that.
Danny Walton only played 18 games for the Dodgers while Bob Randall became the Twins primary second baseman for the next four seasons, helping take over as Rod Carew moved over to first base. Randall was another decent player, for the decent Twins.
Result: +3.9 WAR after the trade, added a solid second baseman.
1976 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade P Bert Blyleven and SS Danny Thompson to the Texas Rangers. for 3B Mike Cubbage, P Jim Gideon, P Bill Singer, SS Roy Smalley, and $250,000.
Only one trade happened in 1976, and it was a big one. In the middle of the season, the Twins traded away ace Bert Blyleven (and Thompson) to the Texas Rangers for a package including Mike Cubbage, prospect Jim Gideon, former All-Star Bill Singer, and young shortstop Roy Smalley.
While losing Bert Blyleven hurt Twins fans and the team, the Twins actually got better with this trade. Smalley ended up becoming an All-Star and key piece of the Twins in the late seventies and early eighties actually outproducing for the Twins vs. what Blyleven did for Texas (18.7 WAR vs. 11.1 WAR).
In addition, while Gideon never made the big leagues for the Twins and Singer only played a half season in Minnesota, Cubbage was a decent third baseman for four and a half years with the Twins securing the left side of the infield with Smalley.
Trading away a franchise legend and future Hall of Famer is hard, but the Twins actually got the better end of the deal here. The Frying Dutchman shouldn’t really have been traded away, but this was a better deal than the Rod Carew trade, which is a topic for another time.
Result: +15.5 WAR after the trade, helped build a decent core
1977 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade P Bill Butler to the Los Angeles Dodgers for P Rex Hudson.
Only one Twins trade happened in 1977, when Bill Butler was sent to the Dodgers for Rex Hudson. Neither pitcher threw an inning for their new team, so this trade officially goes down as a draw, making this an unexciting year.
Result: +0.0 WAR after the trade, a simple minor league swap.
1978 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade a player to be named later (P Jesse Orosco) and P Greg Field (minors) to the New York Mets for P Jerry Koosman.
The Minnesota Twins actually come out with a negative WAR here, as Orosco put a 12.3 WAR with the Mets on his way to becoming the leader in all-time games pitched. Koosman only put up an 11.1 WAR for this trade (Orosco played eight years for the Mets, Koosman played in two and a half for the Twins).
Regardless, bringing home a Minnesota legend in Koosman who would win 36 games in two seasons for the Twins is a worthwhile move. It was nice to watch Koosman play in his hometown state for once, and starting pitchers have a lot of value. Plus, the other trades the Twins made were worse than this, so it easily takes the cake.
Result: -1.3 WAR after the trade, addition of an excellent starter.
1979 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade P Jeff Holly to the Detroit Tigers for P Fernando Arroyo.
In early 1979, the Twins made one of the worst deals in team history, trading away franchise icon, MVP, and future Hall of Famer Rod Carew because he wanted more money. Because that deal went so horribly wrong for the Twins, we instead talk about a deal that fits the 1970s Twins theme.
Jeff Holly was an okay reliever who was traded away to the Tigers and never played a game for Detroit. The deal brought back Arroyo, a decent innings eater who put up a positive 1.4 WAR over two and a half years with the team.
Result: +1.4 WAR after the trade, added an okay back end swingman/starter.
Top 5 Minnesota Twins Trades of the Decade
- Minnesota Twins trade P Wayne Granger to the St. Louis Cardinals for P John Cumberland and OF Larry Hisle. Giving up virtually nothing to get an All-Star player resulted in a +17.9 WAR advantage, easily the best deal of the ’70s for a team that struggled.
- Minnesota Twins trade P Bert Blyleven and SS Danny Thompson to the Texas Rangers. for 3B Mike Cubbage, P Jim Gideon, P Bill Singer, SS Roy Smalley, and $250,000. Giving up Blyleven was tough, but the Twins got a really good return on a star player they felt like they needed to move. If the team had done this with Rod Carew, the early ’80s would’ve gone better.
- Minnesota Twins trade P Dave LaRoche to the Chicago Cubs for P Bob Maneely (minors), P Joe Decker and P Bill Hands. Another trade from 1972, trading away an young player for a couple of swingman pitchers resulted in the Twins ending up +7.2 WAR over the Cubs, as the Cubs couldn’t get LaRoche to reach his potential (he would do it after he left Chicago)
- Minnesota Twins trade 1B Pat Bourque to the Oakland Athletics for P Dennis Myers and OF Dan Ford. The Twins managed to turn two months of Borque into four years of Ford, a masterful deal that helped the Twins to a +6.8 WAR boost.
- Minnesota Twins trade C/OF Paul Powell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Bobby Darwin. Another steal for the Twins resulted in the Twins turning a player who would never play in the Majors again (Powell) for a decent starter who played 490 games for the Twins.