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Dodgers: The Mike Piazza Trade Revisited 22 Years Later

It has been exactly 22 years to the day since the Dodgers shipped out Mike Piazza to the Florida Marlins. At this point in his career, Piazza had already been a five-time All-Star, winning a Rookie of the Year award and five Silver Slugger awards in the process. 

For most Dodgers fans, this trade represents a memory as painful as the Pedro Martinez trade or letting Adrian Beltre get away. Coincidentally, all three of these things happened fairly close together, making the nineties and early 2000’s very difficult. But Piazza was unhappy with the way contract negotiations were going, and ownership saw a chance to get whatever they could before free agency. That’s about the nicest way you can say it.

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So instead of keeping their perennial All-Star backstop, the Dodgers instead sent Piazza and Todd Zeile to the Marlins. Their return certainly wasn’t anything to scoff at, getting Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, and Jim Eisenreich. Sheffield played for the Dodgers through 2001 and became the only real contributor in the deal. 

Sheffield would slash .312/.424/.573 with 129 homeruns over the next four seasons in Los Angeles, garnering MVP votes and two All-Star nods. So while losing Piazza hurt, it wasn’t a total loss. The Marlins traded Piazza to the Mets a week later, and he ended up playing there for seven more years. 

The Dodgers would go on to flounder in the middle of ownership changes and turmoil, while the Mets would make a few good playoff runs with Piazza. The Marlins might have ended up as the true winners though, as they won a World Series in 2003 with an entirely revamped team that included Miguel Cabrera, who was signed in 1999.

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  1. Why drudge up this terrible memory at all, especially now?

    The criminals who perpetrated this crime against Dodger fans should rot in Hell.

  2. The guys that ran the Dodgers in those days had no clue how to put a roster together. Their moves either kept them in the same place but with new names, or made them worse. The Pedro deal was so stupid because they felt like they had to have someone who could hit at second base. Why was that so important? So what if you’re weak offensively at 2nd if you’re getting offense at the other positions. Pitching is far more important anyway, by the mid 90’s they could’ve had a playoff rotation of Pedro and Ramon Martinez, Nomo and Valdez with a solid offense. With Piazza they just replaced one power hitting righty with another, if they felt like they really had to trade him how about trading him somewhere where they could get a return that makes them better all around

    1. I agree about the organization but Lasorda was part of that decision making. Hopefully not with the Pedro deal as that was Claire, but maybe part of the Piazza deal. That said, the Piazza deal was a lateral move as it rid the Dodgers of a catcher who could hit but not defend well. He was part of the 90s teams that didn’t win one playoff game. He was into a contract negotiation that was pitiful from his end demanding over $90 mil and a penthouse suite on road games, or he just couldn’t concentrate on the field anymore. Joke. Glad they got rid of Piazza as that pushed me over the edge big time. But as far as Pedro was concerned, totally different scenario trading good pitching for good hitting even if DeShields became an all star. Claire was out of his mind.

  3. Piazza could hit, but was a below average receiver. Name the last team to win a WS with a subpar defensive catcher….The Martinez deal was just dumb.

  4. I remember at the time of the trade I was really upset. I was only like 9 or 10 and Piazza was the heart of the Dodgers. Objectively looking back on the deal though, I actually think the Dodgers made a great trade. Gary Sheffield was one of the better hitters of that era and he effectively filled in the power gap left by Piazza’s departure. I also remember Charles Johnson being one of the best defensive catchers of that era. Bobby Bonilla also had a few solid seasons left him in. In hindsight, I don’t think keeping Piazza would have been enough for the Dodgers to have made it to the postseason. The Dodgers were just a poorly managed baseball organization during the 1990s-mid 2000s.

    1. I expected you to be atleast 45 or older with those ridiculous political opinions

  5. That would be like Cardinals trading Molina in his prime, the Dodgers chooses in 90,s made very little sense?

  6. Lasorda didn’t like Pedro because he was only 5’10”, he thought his size wouldn’t hold up. Ramon was like 6’3″. But Lasorda for all his glory rode pitchers arms into the ground. Piazza was pretty hard to deal with as a kid, as he was the face of the franchise. I think Beltre was the one that probably was the worst decision. He played 20 years as a an elite defender and great bat, 1st ballot HOFer, and they scouted him and maybe signed him illegally as a minor. You dont let that everyday player walk away (Seagar before Seagar?).

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