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Cleveland Indians: November transactions throughout franchise history

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

A look through the past November transactions for the Cleveland Indians. Free agents came, free agents left, we got taken on one trade, but won another.

With December nearly upon us, we take a look back at some notable November transactions in Cleveland Indians history.

A bad 10-year deal

On November 19, 1976 the Indians signed Wayne Garland to a 10-year, $2.3 million contract. Garland was fresh off a 20-win season for the Baltimore Orioles.

I know that was over 40 years ago – but that’s one-tenth the money Josh Donaldson got from the Braves, and ten times the number of years.

And Garland was coming off a good year.

That said, Garland won 28 games over the life of the contract. He threw 282.2 innings in 1977, and was never healthy again.

A bad five-year deal

Twenty years to the day later (November 19, 1996) Albert Belle signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the White Sox.

That wasn’t the bad five-year deal.

In fact, it worked out well for the White Sox and the Indians. The White Sox got three good years out of Belle. The Indians learned that it generally made sense to get something out of a player before they left. A year later Kenny Lofton was sent to Atlanta for David Justice and Marquis Grissom. And then we got Lofton back. More on that story next month.

The bad five-year deal happened three years later. Belle opted out of his White Sox contract and signed a $65 million contract with the Orioles. He was good for one year, then hurt his hip and retired.

Hot dog! A new pitcher!

On November 21, 2007, (after checking the usual suspects) the Indians announced the signing of Japanese relief pitcher Masahide Kobayashi.

In 2008, Kobayashi records a 4.53 ERA, then almost doubles that ERA in 2009 (8.38).

I apologize for the two terrible Kobayashi jokes above. (Hot dog eating contest, and the reference to “The Usual Suspects”). I also apologize if the jokes were so lame and old that you never realized they were jokes.

Oh, and speaking of “The Usual Suspects” – you’ll never guess who Keyser Soze really was…

There goes my favorite player in a terrible trade

On November 27, 1972 the Indians traded third baseman Graig Nettles and backup catcher Jerry Moses to the Yankees for a big ‘ol box of nothing.

Okay, that isn’t technically correct. But it was how I felt as a kid who just saw his favorite player go to the dark side.

In reality the Indians got outfielder Charlie Spikes (23 home runs in 1973, 22 home runs in 1974, not much after that), catcher/first baseman John Ellis (a few home runs in 1973 and 1974), second baseman Jerry Kenney (played five games in Cleveland) and outfielder Rusty Torres (.199 career batting average in two seasons in Cleveland).

Meanwhile the Yankees got Graig Nettles. Five All-Star Games. 250 home runs. Two Gold Gloves.

Or we could look at the trade this way – wins above replacement. How many wins did the player generate vs. bringing up a minor leaguer who is just average. (Note: This assumes the Indians had those kind of players in the minors in the 1970s, which is a leap of faith).

  • Nettles: 49 WAR while a Yankee.
  • Spikes: -1 WAR. Any offense was offset by terrible defense.
  • Ellis: 3.8 WAR.
  • Torres: -2.1 WAR.
  • Kenney: 0 WAR.

Looks like my childhood assessment of this trade was spot on.

But you have to take the bad with the good…

Speaking of good trades…

On November 29, 1971 the Indians traded Sam McDowell to the Giants for Gaylord Perry and Frank Duffy.

Three years, one Cy Young Award and one book later, the Indians won this trade easily.

McDowell was worth -0.7 wins above replacement. Perry was 28.8 wins above replacement in three years. Duffy was 16.1 (mostly defense) in an Indians uniform.

Next. Indians Rumors: More talk involving the Los Angeles Dodgers. dark

Perry then begat Jim Bibby, Jackie Brown and Rick Waits in a trade with Texas. Waits (and Rick Manning) begat Gorman Thomas, Jamie Easterly and Ernie Camacho from Milwaukee. And most importantly, Brown begat Andre Thunder Thornton in a trade with Montreal.