Best Trades - Rick Sutcliffe for Joe Carter
One of the better trades ever made in professional baseball occurred in 1984, when the Cleveland Indians sent Rick Sutcliffe to the Chicago Cubs just before the trade deadline in exchange for outfielders Mel Hall and Joe Carter.
Originally the trade wasn't deemed to be that important. Sutcliffe was only 4-5 with a high 5.15 ERA at the time of the trade and was beginning to lose his reputation that was built behind a 20-win season and two 17-win seasons. The Cubs even got Ron Hassey and George Frazier in the trade, too.
Once he landed in Wrigley Field, it became obvious that this was going to be one of the better trades in Cubs history. Sutcliffe was reborn in Chicago. He found his form and was better than ever. In 20 starts with the Cubs, he went 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA. Despite playing only half the season with Chicago, Sutcliffe won the National League Cy Young Award.
Sutcliffe's performance inspired the Cubs to win 62 of their last 100 games. Their big finish pushed the Cubs to the NL East championship, but they lost a heartbreaking NLCS to the San Diego Padres. Sutcliffe earned the nickname "The Red Baron" because of his size (6-foot-7) and his red beard.
Unbeknownst to many people is a contributing reason for Sutcliffe's bad start and the ability of Chicago to make the better trade. Sutcliffe had been tormented by an infected tooth in early May, lost 17 pounds, his equilibrium and temporarily the hearing in his right ear. Sutcliffe was also approaching contract year; there was no guarantee the Cubs would be able to sign him.
Things changed again for Sutcliffe in 1985. He was injured while running the bases in a game against Atlanta. He was 5-4 with a 2.32 ERA and the team was in contention. He tried to come back in June, but got hurt again. He was 5-14 in 1986, but recovered to win 18 in 1987 and probably should have won a second Cy Young Award. Sutcliffe was solid again the next year seasons, but got hurt in 1990 and hung around a few more years. He retired with 171 career wins.