Ranking the 5 biggest stars the Cubs traded away over the years
#4: 1973 – RHP Fergie Jenkins (53.6) to the Texas Rangers for 3B Bill Madlock (11.1) and UT Vic Harris (-2.6)
For all their star power and the fond memories they generate for those of us of a certain age, the Leo Durocher-led Cubs never finished closer to a pennant than five games out. Durocher was sent packing in 1972 and The Great Dismantlement began not long thereafter. After the 1973 season, when Jenkins put up by far the worst ERA of his career to that point (a still very respectable 3.89) the Cubs shipped him across the border to the Republic of Texas in exchange for dynamic young infielder Bill Madlock.
Easily the best trade piece the team received in any of the deals you will read about in this post, Madlock would go on to have three very good years before his salary demands and fractious relationship with the Cubs’ antiquated ownership and front office would see him dispatched to San Francisco. Jenkins would return to the Windy City in 1981 and pitch for two more seasons. Like Reuschel he put in a pretty full shift at age 40, though the results weren’t quite as impressive.
#3: 1974 – LF Billy Williams (58.9) to the Oakland A’s for LHP Darold Knowles (2.1), RHP Bob Locker (1.0), and 2B Manny Trillo (0.8)
As The Great Dismantlement continued the Cubs did Williams a solid, trading him to the pennant contending A’s at the end of the 1974 season. Williams had 10-5 rights, meaning he had to approve the trade (and did); we’ll discuss these more in connection with the Ron Santo trade that’s coming up.
Williams would never make it to a World Series. The A’s went quietly to the Red Sox in the 1975 ALCS, scoring just seven runs over the three game sweep. Williams himself was 0-for-7 with a walk, but at least he got a taste of the postseason before he hung up his spikes. And he had a very productive regular season, with an OPS of .760 and OPS+ of 116 over a durable 602 plate appearances.