#3 Joe Carter (1990)
The Padres had a very nice problem in the late ’80s. They had Benito Santiago as their young catcher, and they also had Sandy Alomar Jr. in the minor leagues as the team’s best prospect. He was a catcher as well and came with a very high ceiling. The team had a tough decision to make. Should they deal the established Santiago or deal the young, unproven Alomar Jr?
They chose to move Alomar Jr. as he was packaged in December of 1989 with Carlos Baerga and Chris James and shipped to the Cleveland Indians for slugging outfielder Joe Carter. The Padres were in the market for a middle of the order type hitter, and Carter came with a great track record for run-producing. He was coming off a 1989 season with the Indians where he hit .243 with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs he also stole 11 bases.
Carter played in every game for the Padres in 1990. He was out there despite nagging injuries and produced for the club in the clutch. He had a batting line of .232/.290/.391 with 24 home runs and 115 RBI. He also stole 22 bases and hit 27 doubles in his 634 at-bats. Incredibly despite those numbers, Carter amassed a fantastic -1.8 WAR rating in 1990.
He was well below average, according to sabermetrics. Looking into his numbers, you will see that Carter was horrible defensively for the Padres that year. That alone plummeted his WAR rating. He was incredibly a -3.1 WAR player on defense for the 1990 season. Perhaps Carter did need a day off after all. His defensive WAR ratings are negative almost every year (-16.5 total for his career), but the -3.1 is easily his worst defensive performance in terms of a WAR rating. The Padres even tried moving Carter to first base to limit his defensive problems, but he committed six errors there in 11 games. Ouch.
Carter spent 364 days as a Padres player before being packaged with Roberto Alomar and sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. This was one of the biggest trades in team history as far as the quality of players. All four players were all-stars in their careers. The Jays landed what they needed to win back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993. Carter and Alomar were both huge for the team. The Padres needed a shortstop very badly, and McGriff was a terrific left-handed first baseman. Joe Carter’s 1990 season as a Padres player goes down in history as another example of the production the Padres got in the outfield in one-year intervals.
#2 Reggie Sanders (1999)
After the 1998 season, the Padres were disassembling their National League Championship team. Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, and Kevin Brown were all allowed to leave via free agency, and slugger Greg Vaughn was traded to the Cincinnati Reds with Mark Sweeney for Damian Jackson and Reggie Sanders.
Losing Vaughn was rough, but most Padres fans were already punch drunk at losing the trio of free agents. The Padres did, however, get a nice return in Reggie Sanders and Damian Jackson. Sanders was 31 and coming off a season where he had a batting line of .268/.346/.418 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 135 games. The life long Red has some very productive years for them.
As a Padres’ outfielder, Sanders played in 133 games and hit 26 home runs with 72 RBIs. He had a batting line of .285/.376/.527 in 478 at-bats. He totaled a 4.1 WAR rating for that season as well. A very successful season for Sanders indeed. He was dealt in the offseason to the Braves with Quilvio Veras and Wally Joyner for Ryan Klesko and Bret Boone. Sanders had some decent years after his season with the Padres. He played for the D’Backs, Giants, Pirates, Cardinals, and Royals before retiring in 2007 after a 17-year career. Until this past season, he had the best production for a Padres outfielder in one year as a member of the team.
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