Padres history: The team did well in that crazy 12-player trade

Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, San Diego Padres Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, San Diego Padres Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport /

The San Diego Padres and Houston Astros pulled off a 12-player deal in 1994.

Back on December 28, 1994, the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros were involved in a 12-player trade. The Padres were coming off a strike-shortened season in which they went 47-70, in last place in the four-team NL West, while the Astros were 66-49, 1/2 game out of first place behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.

Here’s the full list of players who were involved:

Padres get: Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Andujar Cedeno, Roberto Petagine, Brian Williams, Sean Fesh (was a player to be named later)

Astros get: Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez (not the Hall of Fame pitcher), Phil Plantier, Craig Shipley

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the Padres actually did well in this deal. We’ll start with Caminiti, the biggest piece of the deal, as he was coming off an All-Star campaign in 1994 in Houston. He went off in San Diego; in four years there, he batted .295 with a .924 OPS, including 121 home runs and 396 RBIs. He won the league MVP in 1996 by hitting .326 with 40 home runs and 130 RBIs. He also won three straight Gold Gloves at third base from 1995 to 1997. Caminiti was a big part of the 1996 and 1998 playoff teams.

Finley was also pretty good with the Padres as well, though he later did some of his best work in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. He, too, was in San Diego for four years, winning two Gold Gloves in the outfield while batting .276 with 82 home runs and 298 RBIs. Finley somewhat quietly had a nice career overall in which he gained 2,548 hits and posted a 44.2 WAR.

As for the rest of the players in the deal, Cedeno hit .217 in parts of two seasons in San Diego; Williams had a 6.00 ERA in 44 games for the Padres in 1995; Petagine batted .234 for the team in 1995; and Fesh never reached the majors.

As for what the Padres gave up, the biggest piece was Bell, who batted .284 with 74 home runs and 444 RBIs in five seasons in Houston. Bell was coming off a season in which he batted .311 with 14 home runs for the Padres in 1994.

Gutierrez spent parts of 12 seasons in the majors and actually posted a -1.2 WAR for his career. He was a light-hitting shortstop in Houston, batting .266 with just seven home runs in five seasons in Houston, though he later had a couple of decent seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Brocail actually had a long career as a reliever in the majors, though he only spent two seasons in Houston (he would later have second stints with both the Padres and Astros).

Meanwhile, Martinez had a 7.40 ERA in one season in Houston; Plantier played briefly in Houston before two more brief stints in 1995 and 1997; and Shipley batted .263 in one season in Houston before also coming back to the Padres in 1996 and 1997.

So, while the majority of the players in the trade were relatively inconsequential, the trade basically came down to Caminiti and Finley for Bell, Gutierrez, and Brocail. Both teams had success in the late 1990s, so in that regard, it was a good trade. Yet considering what Caminiti and Finley contributed to the Padres back then, it looks like we can say that the Padres won this trade.

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