Indians were “two minutes” from acquiring Randy Johnson in 1998

John Hart and Carlos Baerga were in Cleveland this weekend getting inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. Hart, the Tribe’s GM during the mid-90s run, reminisced about some of the deals that got away. He told the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto that while he doesn’t regret not trading Jaret Wright (along with Bartolo Colon and others) to the Expos for Pedro Martinez, he really wishes his 1998 deal for Randy Johnson would’ve gone through.

But Hart still regrets coming within a few minutes of adding Randy Johnson in 1998 in a deal with Seattle. He had an offer of at least five players on the table, including Dave Burba, Brian Giles and Richie Sexson. “I thought we had a deal,” said Hart. “But two minutes left before the trade deadline, [Seattle General Manager] Woody Woodward called back and said they were trading him to Houston.”

Brian Giles, Richie Sexson and Dave Burba?!??! Oh. My. God. After the trade deadline, Johnson was an absolute beast for the Houston Astros, going 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in eleven starts. He notched 116 strikeouts in just 84.1 innings pitched. That is insane. The trade (or moving to the NL) seemed to energize the Big Unit, as pre-deadline he was rather pedestrian, going 9-10 with a with a 4.33 ERA in 23 starts for the Mariners.

The Indians went up 2-1 on the Yankees in the 1998 ACLS before eventually falling 4-2. Tribe starters Dwight Gooden, Chad Ogea and Charles Nagy took the loss in each of the final three games.

The Big Unit in an Indians uniform. For Brian Giles, Dave Burba and Richie Sexson. Wow. In no way is this depressing.

[Related: Four For Friday – LeBron, Gordon, Kazmir, and Marion]

  • H_Pac

    In no way is that depressing. Except that it never happened. In that way, it’s a little depressing.

  • The_Real_Shamrock


  • saggy


  • Matt underwood

    Nice post, love stories like this – as depressing as they are…

  • mgbode

    “The Big Unit in an Indians uniform. For Brian Giles, Dave Burba and Richie Sexson.”

    except that the M`s were likely just playing us to make sure they got the deal they wanted from Houston. were they really willing to take that haul? the deal they got was 1000x better:

    ‘on July 31, the Mariners traded Johnson to the Houston Astros for three minor leaguers, Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama’

  • Mike P

    In hindsight, was Garica, Halama, and Guillen that much better?
    I don’t really think so. They would have got hosed on both deals.

  • maxfnmloans

    would have rather had Pedro after ’97

  • mgbode

    you give up Randy, and yes you are in a losing proposition. but, those 3 guys were all minor leaguers at the time and they each ended up having extended MLB careers. Garcia and Guillen are still playing 16 seasons later. that’s pretty impressive.

    best seasons w/ Seattle:
    Garcia finished 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting in 2001 for Seattle

    Guillen – finally started becoming a hitter his last year in Seattle, unfortunately for them, he then went to Detroit and started making the allstar game

    Halama – best record was 14-9, but his best year he was 11-10 w/ a 4.22 ERA. nothing great (obviously), but he did end up having a 8yr MLB career and finished with a winning record all 4 years he pitched for Seattle (pitcher wins!!!!).