As the trade deadline approaches, let’s look back at the biggest stars the Chicago Cubs have sent packing over the years.
As Willson Contreras familiarizes himself with the real estate market in San Diego, it might be a good time to look at other great Cubs the team has traded away over the years. These aren’t the worst trades the Cubs have made, but rather trades involving players who established themselves as stars with the Cubs. In this post, the numbers in parentheses are WAR totals are from Fangraphs, and reflect each player’s WAR with the Cubs.
#5: 1981 – RHP Rick Reuschel (47.0) to the New York Yankees for RHP Doug Bird (1.1) and RHP Mike Griffin (0.7)
Even by the Cubs’ historical standards, the 1981 squad was a bad one. They wouldn’t get their tenth win until May 30. Rick Reuschel would pitch his last game for this ill-chosen assortment of players on June 10. Two days later, on the same day the players decided to strike, the Cubs sent Reuschel east for $400,000 of George Steinbrenner’s cash and two guys. The team tried to make this sound like smart roster development, but it was mainly a salary dump.
Cubs fans were outraged, and not without reason; a franchise icon had just been sent to a team powered by the fires of hell. But spare a thought for Doug Bird, who through no fault of his own wound up at the business end of the fans’ ire. He actually had a decent season for the Cubs in the second half of 1981’s ridiculous split schedule, though he cratered the following year.
After missing the 1982 season because of rotator cuff surgery, Reuschel would return to the Cubs and pitch in limited duty for the next two seasons. He would rejuvenate his career in Pittsburgh, before moving on to San Francisco and pitching well enough to earn Cy Young consideration at age 40. He’s a remarkable and too often overlooked pitcher.