Astros: Revisiting 1996 Brad Ausmus trade with Tigers

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The Houston Astros swung a big trade with the Tigers in 1996 to acquire Brad Ausmus and others, and its impact is impressive.

Following the 1996 season, the Houston Astros were looking to make some changes. They were coming off an 82-80 season in the final year under manager Terry Collins and had replaced him with franchise legend Larry Dierker. They also swung a big trade in December to acquire Brad Ausmus and others from Detroit.

On December 10, GM Gerry Hunsicker sent Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones and Orlando Miller to the Tigers in exchange for Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski and Daryle Ward. There aren’t many nine-player trades, and even fewer have all nine players play in the major leagues at one time or another.

This trade sent some key contributors to the 1996 team away, but it also brought in a few guys who would be instrumental in the team’s future success. The following season, the Astros won the NL Central title for the first time, the first of four division titles in a five-year span.

Interestingly, two of the players the Astros gave up in this trade eventually returned to Houston later in their careers. Two of the players the Astros received would end up being traded away and then also returning again.

If nothing else, the trade shook things up a little bit, bringing some new faces to town as the team was ready to move forward with a new manager. It’s tough to call this trade a big win for either side in hindsight, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

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