The Overall Verdict
This one seems fairly one-sided with the benefit of hindsight. The Astros did get four solid seasons from Bell (plus one not-so-solid season) so it wasn’t a total loss. But what they got from everyone else they received was replacement level or below.
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The Padres got four prime seasons from each of Caminiti and Finley, who were both better in San Diego than they had been in Houston. The rest of the players the Astros gave up didn’t do much, so really this swap boils down to Bell in exchange for Caminiti and Finley. Not exactly an even trade.
What it also did was help break up the nucleus of talent the Astros had accumulated. Caminiti was one of the franchise faces next to Craig Biggio, Bagwell and Darryl Kile. He made his first All-Star team as a member of the Astros and was close to his teammates, especially Biggio.
But then again, who knows how things would have turned out if the trade hadn’t been made. There’s no guarantee Caminiti would have won the MVP in ’96 or that the Astros would have been any better off.
But Caminiti probably would’ve had his name in the Astros Hall of Fame if he’d had his best years here. Finley might have even managed that, too, if he’d stayed long enough. The what-ifs are endless.
What we do know is the Padres made out much better in this deal than the Astros did.