In 1998, the Chicago Cubs were enjoying a breakout seasons from Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood. They were in the playoff hunt, but could not settle a couple of their positions. Third base had been a revolving door for much of the season. Kevin Orie, Jose Hernandez, and Tyler Houston all spent time at the hot corner, each not quite able to lock the position down.
When the St. Louis Cardinals released aging slugger Gary Gaetti, the Cubs front office saw little to lose in offering the former All-Star a contract. He signed with the Cubs for $170,000.
What did the Cubs get? First, they got a veteran presence for their run towards the playoffs. Second, they got an experienced third baseman–they’re best options up to that point had been utility players.
Third, they got a guy who slashed his way to a .991 OPS and gave them stability at the hot corner. Gaetti was a huge part of a Cubs team that ended up winning the National League Wild Card (before falling to the Atlanta Braves in the Divisional Series).
Next: Another midseason steal