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Padres and Blue Jays swapped outfielders 25 years ago

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The infamous Fire Sale of 1993 was already well underway.

Derek Bell

On this day in 1993, the Padres trimmed nearly $2,000,000 off their books and, almost as an afterthought, got a couple of live bodies from Toronto. As the L.A. Times noted the next day, the San Diego front office had been shopping Darrin Jackson since he was awarded $2,100,000 in arbitration, and they finally found a taker right as Spring Training was winding down. In return, the Blue Jays sent 24-year-old outfielder Derek Bell, who had spent parts of the past two seasons with the big club, and 20-year-old A-ball outfielder Stoney Briggs, who would never reach the majors.

Going into the 1993 season, the Padres were set on one thing, and that was whittling the payroll down to the smallest number possible. Starting catcher Benito Santiago and closer Randy Myers helped the cause merely by the timing of their free agency, and shortstop Tony Fernandez and reliever Mike Maddux were traded before the new year. The trade of Jackson hammered home the team’s intentions, but the process wouldn’t become infamous until that summer, when Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff were sent out in separate deals to teams with which they’d each win a ring.

As for the players involved in this particular deal, Jackson was a flop in Toronto, and was traded to the Mets in June for the aforementioned Tony Fernandez. He was even worse in Queens, but did bounce back in 1994 with a solid season for the White Sox.

Bell stepped in as San Diego’s starting center fielder, also starting 19 games at third base after Sheffield was traded, and had a decent offensive season. He was better in 1994, then headed to Houston in the famed 12-player trade. Interestingly, the Blue Jays had been eager to replace him due to him dogging it in Spring Training games, a telling precursor to the “Operation Shutdown” of 2002 which ended his career.