On this day in 2005, Kevin Towers finally traded Phil Nevin. Well, he had already traded him three times, but this time it stuck. Nevin vetoed two of those trades -- most famously one after the 2002 season that would have netted Ken Griffey, Jr -- but his no-trade clause didn't cover the greater Dallas- Fort Worth metro area, so he found himself headed to the Rangers in exchange for Chan Ho Park.
Both Nevin and Park were slogging through ugly seasons at the time of the trade. Nevin's was his worst since he came to San Diego from Anaheim before the 1999 season, while Park's was what Rangers fans had come to expect since he signed as a free agent in early 2002. Each had thoroughly disillusioned fans of their respective teams; Nevin's new-found offensive troubles coupled with his longstanding awful attitude, and Park never pitched well in the American League when he managed to stay off the disabled list. The fact that the new guy might fill a need for the acquiring club seemed almost secondary to getting the other guy out of town. jbox voiced this sentiment in his brilliantly titled post about the trade the day it happened.
The good news for the Pads is that Phil is gone. No more temper tantrums. No more booing... hopefully. No more watching Phil pop up the catcher every other at bat. Chan Ho Park won't be the distraction that Ponson might have been. I'm also glad that Phil didn't leave the Padres showing off his temper. He seems genuine with his love for the Pads, but there is no doubt that it was time for him to go.
The Ponson who Mr. Box referred to is starting pitcher Sidney Ponson, who Towers was lined up to acquire from Baltimore in exchange for Nevin just six days earlier before Phil once again invoked his no-trade clause, presumably while holding a copy of his contract in one hand and pointing to it with the other one like Roger Dorn.
The day Nevin vetoed the Ponson trade was also the same day he lost his starting job. While that seems punitive on the surface, it makes sense given what else was going on at the time. In a move meant to coincide with sending Nevin to Baltimore, the Padres acquired Joe Randa from the Reds to play third base in place of the demoted Sean Burroughs, and then moved ahead with their plan to hand first base to Xavier Nady and Mark Sweeney.
Nevin's eight-figure salary both that season and the next might have been an impediment to some teams, but not to the Rangers, who not only took on that commitment but also sent along the difference between Nevin and Park's paydays, as reported by Tom Krasovic of the Union-Tribune the day of the trade.
The Rangers were so eager to move Park, they agreed to pay about $7 million to cover the gap in guaranteed money. Park, who is 8-5 this season, has spent many months on the trade block since Texas signed him to a four-year, $65 million pact three years ago.
That $7 million broke down to $2 million to offset the difference between the $3 million and $5 million due to Nevin and Park respectively for the remaining third of a season, with the leftover $5 to sew up the gap between the $10 million Nevin had coming in 2006 and Park's $15 million. The magnitude of the money moving in the deal, which was agreed to a day earlier, is why the approval of the commissioner's office was required.
In the sense that "all's well that ends well" the Padres walked away from this trade a winner. They got an underperforming malingerer out of town on a rail and, while Park was basically the same guy he was in Texas, they won the division with an 82-80 record. And winning a weak division and getting beat in the first round by the Cardinals is as well as well has been the past sixteen seasons.
While Park was going 4-3 with a 5.91 ERA (over a run-and-a-half higher than his FIP of 4.40) down the stretch, Nevin hit a blink-and-you'd-miss-it .182 in 99 at-bats over 29 games for the third-place Rangers. He took eight walks and got plunked once to boost his OBP to a paltry .250, while his five doubles and four homers added up to a SLG of just .323. These marks were markedly worse than the already-disappointing slash line of .256/ .301/ .399 he posted in his 73 games before the trade.
The 2006 season brought more of the same for both players. Nevin hit poorly for the Rangers and was traded to the Cubs for Jerry Hairston on May 31. He seemed rejuvenated, slashing .274/ .335/ .497 with 12 home runs for Chicago, and was sent to Minnesota at the waiver trade deadline. He batted .190 with a double and a homer in 16 games for his third team of the season and fourth of the past two, and decided after the season to trade his spikes in for a microphone.
Unlike Nevin, Park wasn't traded at all the next season. In fact, the Nevin swap was the only time Park was traded in his illustrious 17-year, seven-team career. Park stuck with San Diego for the entirety of the 2006 season as the club successfully defended its division title. He went 7-7 with a 4.81 ERA (this time nearly identical to his 4.83 FIP) in 24 games, 21 of which were starts. After leaving as a free agent, Park went on to catch a second wind as a moderately successful reliever for a handful of teams through 2010 before finishing his career with seven games in Japan in 2011.
While it wasn't the most glamorous trade, it was one that had to be made and didn't blow up in the franchise's collective face. For those reasons, I think it's safe to finally judge this trade fresh.