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Traded together twice: Ron Villone and Marc Newfield's year in San Diego

On this day in 1995, Ron Villone and Marc Newfield were traded to the Padres.

On this day in 1996, Ron Villone and Marc Newfield were traded by the Padres.

They came to town together from the Mariners in a deadline deal for starting pitcher Andy Benes and a player to be named later who ended up being pitcher Greg Keagle a month and a half later. Keagel never saw the field for the Mariners organization as he was left unprotected and selected by the Tigers in that year's rule 5 draft. Benes posted a 5.86 ERA fueled by a 1.667 WHIP in his 12 starts after the trade, but Seattle's high-octane offense turned that into a 7-2 record for him. Those 12 games and three brutal postseason starts proved to be the extent of Benes's time in the Pacific Northwest as he headed to St. Louis as a free agent that winter.

In addition to shaking off a little more than $1 million dollars of salary due to Benes, the Padres got solid performance from Newfield and Villone for a full year, not to mention the performance they got from who they went on to flip them for. I'm getting ahead of myself; that's at least two paragraphs away.

Newfield, an outfielder by trade, raked in limited duty after the trade, slashing .309/ .333/ .491 in 55 at-bats over 21 games. While he fell off in 1996, he still put up a borderline-tolerable .251/ .311/ .387 line. During his year in navy and orange, Newfield got into 105 games, starting 53 of them. He went to the plate 269 times and left town with 16 doubles, a triple, and a half-dozen homers for a final line of .264/ .316/ .411.

Villone's tale of two seasons is not especially unlike Newfield's. The lefty was decent to the tune of a 4.21 ERA in 25.2 innings in 19 appearances, putting up a 2-1 record in the last two months of the 1995 season. His 2.95 ERA in 21 games as a Padre in '96 looks much better, but a closer perusal reveals he benefited from luck and gloves more than any personal growth. His FIP and WHIP held steady and his strikeout rate even fell by a full 28% from 13 per nine innings to "just" 9.3. By the time his 366 days were up, Villone moved along with a 3-2 record and a respectable 3.68 ERA in 40 appearances.

By the time July 31, 1996 rolled around, general manager Randy Smith was filling the same position in Detroit and had been replaced in San Diego by young gunslinger Kevin Towers, who had served as the club's couting director under Smith. Like Smith, Towers could plainly see that Newfield and Villone were meant to be together. He sent them on an anniversary trip to Milwaukee along with overachieving middle reliever Bryce Florie in exchange for slugger Greg Vaughn and a player to be named later. That player was named Jerry Parent, and he never made it to the majors. The outfielder topped out at A-ball, ending his career in 1998 following an unsuccessful attempt to reinvent himself as a pitcher.

Florie and Villone both pitched for the Brewers through the 1997 season, with Villone flourishing and Florie falling back to earth. Newfield stuck around in a platoon role through 1998, his final year in the majors. The Padres also retained the big league outfielder they got in return through the 1998 season, but he made a considerably larger impression.

Vaughn was amidst his best season to date when San Diego acquired him. His 31 home runs at the time of the trade were already a career-high, surpassing the 30 he hit in 1993. He cooled down the stretch, batting .206/ .329/ .454, although he did add 10 homers to his total as the Padres fought successfully for the divisional crown. Nobody was boasting that San Diego won the trade after the 1997 season, in which Vaughn slashed .216/ .322/ .393 with just 10 doubles and 18 homers in 120 games. His next season was a full 180; Vaughn stayed healthy and in turn set career highs in games (158), doubles (28), homers (50), RBI (119) and batting average (.272). He finished fourth in league MVP voting as the Friars stormed their way to the pennant. After that season he became the first and, to date, only player to be traded immediately following a 50-homer season. But that didn't happen on July 31, so I'll save the details for another day.