Astros: Revisiting 1994 Ken Caminiti trade with Padres

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The Houston Astros traded away a franchise star in Ken Caminiti in what turned out to be a lopsided trade.

As we continue looking to the past while the present is on hold, we come to one of the biggest trades in Houston Astros history. A late Christmas lump of coal in fans’ stockings, so to speak, came on Dec. 28, 1994, when the club included third baseman Ken Caminiti in a massive 12-player trade with San Diego.

The full trade sent Caminiti, outfielder Steve Finley, shortstop Andujar Cedeno, first baseman/outfielder Roberto Pentagine and pitcher Brian Williams to the Padres. In return, the Astros got outfielder Derek Bell, pitcher Doug Brocail, shortstop Ricky Gutierrez, pitcher Pedro Martinez (no, not THAT Pedro Martinez), outfielder Phil Plantier and infielder Craig Shipley.

The Astros also sent a player to be named later to San Diego, which turned out to be pitcher Sean Fesh, who never reached the major leagues. The remaining 11 players did play in the majors, however, so we can judge this trade with the benefit of hindsight to see just which team made out better.

The result is pretty clear when you look at it, and it’s a wonder that GM Bob Watson even made this trade. For one, the 1994 Astros only had three players reach double-digit home runs. Jeff Bagwell was the runaway leader with 39, but Caminiti and Finley were the other two. Power was already something of a weakness and they traded away two of their better hitters.

Caminiti was an All-Star that year as well. He was beloved by his teammates and many fans, though he struggled with addiction for many years which ultimately resulted in his tragic death at age 41 in 2004. It’s fair to wonder how both he and the Astros would have fared if he’d spent his best years in Houston.

With that, here’s the analysis of this mega-trade.

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