The San Diego Padres‘ history is very deep, and on this day in that history, the team pulled off three separate trades and also made one of the biggest signings they ever had.
17 different players changed hands on this day in Padres history (December 8th) and each trade was unique.
The first two trades are for the very old school fans out there, and the last trade was slightly controversial at the time. Any time a fan favorite is traded, the team is under immediate scrutiny.
December 8, 1976
The Padres acquired a very good outfielder in this deal at the expense of young Johnny Grub and veterans’ Kendall and Torres. Grub went on to have a decent career. He played a total of 16 years and had a .278 career batting average. Kendall was a fan favorite and actually returned to the ball club two years later as a free agent. Hector Torres was a utility infielder from Mexico who never played for the Indians and was traded to the Blue Jays in spring training.
The key acquisition was Hendricks, who was just beginning to come into his own. He put up a .311/.381/.492 season in his first season as a Padres’ outfielder. Those numbers are fantastic for that time. Hendrick put up a 5.8 WAR rating that year, in fact, which is fantastic. He was dealt the next season, after a slow start, for young pitcher Eric Rasmussen. That deal turned out to be horrible for the Padres, as Hendrick played 11 more seasons, including two all-star appearances. Rasmussen pitched in and out of the rotation and was released in 1980.
December 8, 1980
The San Diego Padres trade pitcher Rollie Fingers, catchers Gene Tenace and Bob Geren, and pitcher Bob Shirley to the St. Louis Cardinals for catchers Terry Kennedy and Steve Swisher, shortstop Mike Phillips, and pitchers John Littlefield, John Urrea, Kim Seaman, and Al Olmstead
Wow, what a huge trade, as 11 players were exchanged and each team swapped two catchers each. The big loss for the Padres was all-star closer Rollie Fingers. He was 34-40 as a Padres pitcher, saving 108 games in his 265 appearances. He recorded a 3.12 Padres ERA while leading the National League in saves twice in his four years in San Diego. Ironically, he was dealt four days later by the Cardinals to the Milwaukee Brewers in a seven-player deal.
The Padres made the trade to obtain a valuable young catcher. Terry Kennedy was a left-handed hitting catcher with a very nice swing. Kennedy produced quite well for the Padres in his six-year career. He hit .274 with 76 home runs and 424 RBI and made three all-star games in his six years as a Padres backstop. The Padres got one decent year out of Urrea and that was it. The rest of the package produced little to no return for the Frairs. Swisher proved to be a decent backup catcher, but the other prospects were a complete failure.
December 8, 1991
The ultimate fan favorite, Roberts was dealt after having an injury-riddled season in 1991 where he only managed to play in 117 games. Bip put it all out there every night and the Padres fans recognized that and enjoyed watching him play the game. Roberts responded to the trade in 1992 by having his best year in the major leagues. He hit .323 with an on base percentage of .393 and stole 44 bases in 147 games. He made his first and only all-star game and walked 62 times on the season while only striking out 54 times. He rejoined the Padres in 1994, after being granted free agency, only to be dealt again in 1995 to the Royals for first baseman Wally Joyner.
Randy Myers had an up-and-down career as a San Diego Padres player. The Reds had an excess of closers, as the team had Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton at the back end of the bullpen. Myers was the oldest and was deemed expendable. The Padres needed a closer and the deal made sense for them. Myers went 3-6 with a 4.29 ERA and had 38 saves in his contract year. He left via free agency at the end of the year. In 1998, the Padres made one of the worst moves in franchise history as the team claimed Randy Myers, who was put on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. The 35-year-old Myers was on the downside of his career and ended up being hurt. The Padres were stuck with his salary for the next two seasons at over $13.5 million dollars. Myers never pitched again after the 1998 season and the Padres let Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley walk away as free agents.
Free Agent Signing
December 8, 1988
Pitcher Bruce Hurst, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, signs a $5.25 million, three-year contract with the San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres never really spent too much in the free agent market before Hurst. Sure, the team signed Steve Garvey away from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1982, but that was not typically their style. The team rolled the dice in December of 1988, and decided to go after veteran left-handed pitcher Bruce Hurst. I can remember vividly how excited fans were and how the local media went out of their way to recruit Hurst to come to San Diego. It was a true testament to how special this fan base can be when it wants to awaken from its slumber.
The big left-hander provided immediate dividends as he went 15-11 his first season in San Diego with a league leading 10 complete games. Hurst had a 2.69 ERA and a 1.144 WHIP. In his four-year Padres career he went 55-38 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.181 WHIP. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies in 1993 for Andy Ashby.
Truly an amazing day in Padres’ history as the club attempted to improve themselves. Each transaction helped shape the history of the San Diego Padres, and that is something we all should learn more about.