Twenty-one years ago, the San Diego Padres made a significant trade.
At the time, Padres fans were fresh off the dismantling of the 1998 National League Champion team.
Losing both Veras and Joyner was undoubtedly the final straw in saying goodbye to that magical season. Ken Caminiti, Kevin Brown, Greg Vaughn, and Steve Finley were all with other teams by now. At this point, losing these two, along with Sanders (whom the Padres acquired for Vaughn), was nothing but a flesh wound.
The return, however, wasn’t a fire sale move at all. It was a good old-fashioned baseball trade as the Padres acquired two very useful players. Both Bret Boone and Ryan Klesko had great ability, but each had failed to put it all together yet. Perhaps moving out West to the Padres would help them blossom into MLB All-Stars.
Ryan Klesko recorded some very productive years with the Padres. For a few years, he and Phil Nevin provided a lethal punch in the middle of the Padres’ batting order.
Klesko responded to the trade by hitting .283 with 26 home runs and 92 RBI’s and 23 stolen bases in 2000 for the Friars. The stolen bases were a pleasant surprise, as Klesko benefited from getting a chance to play first base every day.
In his seven years as a Padres’ player, Klesko hit 133 home runs and recorded a batting line of .279/.381/.491 in 828 games and 2,800 at-bats. He was an All-Star in 2001 for the Padres as he hit .286 on the season with 30 homers and 113 RBI’s.
Bret Boone enjoyed only one season (2000) as a Padre and put up very respectable numbers for a second baseman. He hit .251 with 19 homers and 74 RBI’s in 127 games. He became a free agent at the end of the year and signed with the Seattle Mariners, who originally drafted him in 1990. His numbers exploded in Seattle, as Boone hit 37 homers and drove in 141 runs while hitting a cool .331 for the M’s in 2001. The Padres’ fans immediately began to shake their heads. How could Boone blossom so much one year after leaving?
Boone only had one year, but Klesko had seven decent seasons for San Diego. Losing Joyner was tough, but he was clearly on the way out. He only played in 119 games for the Braves in 2000 and retired after the next season. Quilvio Veras was a big part of the deal for the Braves as they needed a leadoff hitter. Veras was still 28 at the time of the trade but had constant leg injuries and only played in 84 games for the Braves in 2000. He played just one more season and then was out of the game at the age of 30.
Reggie Sanders was the best player the Padres dealt in this trade. He had one great year in San Diego in 1999, where he hit .285 with 26 homers and 76 RBI’s. He also recorded an on-base percentage of .376 while stealing 36 bases. He had an injury-riddled year in Atlanta, only playing in 103 games and batting .232 on the season. The outfielder became a free agent after the year and signed with the Diamondbacks.
The Braves got fleeced in this deal. Veras, Joyner, and Sanders gave them little to no production, while Klesko went on to have seven decent years in San Diego, and Boone blossomed into an MLB All-Star. The trade helped shape the Padres of the early 2000s. Klesko was a vital member in those days. The team wasn’t anything special, but at least he provided an offensive spark for the franchise.