On this day in 1990, the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays made a trade that would change both franchises forever (but honestly, it was mostly the Blue Jays).
Fred McGriff was coming off of a stellar season in 1990, with 35 home runs and a .300 batting average for Toronto. That was his third consecutive year with at least 34 home runs. Shortstop Tony Fernandez had been an All-Star for three of the previous four seasons with the Blue Jays. In 1990, he hit a Major League-leading 17 triples and stole 26 bases.
These two All-Star-caliber hitters were traded to the West Coast, to the San Diego Padres. This was big news for a Padres team that was losing their star first baseman, Jack Clark, and had an aging shortstop in Garry Templeton. The Padres sent center fielder Joe Carter and future Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar to Toronto in exchange for McGriff’s and Fernandez’ services.
Perhaps this was a more historic move for the Blue Jays.
That first season in Toronto in 1991, Carter and Alomar both were All-Stars. Then they were a key part in the Toronto Blue Jays winning an incredible back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. Carter, of course, hit one of the most famous World Series home runs ever, in 1993. To clinch the repeat championship, Carter launched a walk-off home run off of Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies to win the title. That was only the second time in history the World Series has ended on a home run.
Padres fans are so used to watching former Friars winning rings, kissing babies, and making millions after they leave. But let’s focus on what the Padres got in return for giving Toronto two straight championships (you’re welcome!). The cupboard was not bare. The Padres had two winning seasons those next two years with McGriff and Fernandez. McGriff smacked 31 home runs his first year as a Friar. He was an All-Star the next year with a National League-high 35 homers and a .286 average with a whopping 165 OPS+. He would be traded again during the 1993 season to the Braves (where, of course, he won a ring in 1995).
Fernandez was also an All-Star for the Padres in 1992 when he hit .275 with 32 doubles and 20 stolen bases. In his two seasons with San Diego, he consistently was around .275 and 30 doubles. He also played a great shortstop (he won four straight Gold Gloves during his Toronto days). Oddly enough, Fernandez went back to Toronto for that 1993 World Series run with Alomar and Carter.
In closing, all four players involved in this trade won World Series rings within five years of this trade, and three with the Blue Jays two seasons later. This is not meant to depress. One cannot deny the impact this trade had on the landscape of Major League Baseball in the early and mid-’90s.