Yankees: The worst trades in franchise history

Yankees gear sitting in the dugout. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Yankees gear sitting in the dugout. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Yankees trades
Jay Buhner was involved in a Yankees trade that didn’t pan out for New York. (Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport) /

4. February 1, 1999. New York trades Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Mark Johnson, and Todd Noel.

Before the 1998 season, the Yankees signed Scott Brosius to a free-agent deal. He responded quickly, posting a .300/.371/.472 line in his first season in New York. The acquisition left just 15 September plate appearances for the team’s top third base prospect. That offseason they’d trade Mike Lowell to the Marlins.

Lowell spent the next twelve years between the Marlins and the Red Sox, batting a combined .279/.342/.464 with 223 home runs. He made multiple All-Star games, won a Gold Glove, was considered a clubhouse leader, and helped the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2007 World Series.

None of the three players New York received produced much in their careers. Noel never played above High-A ball. Johnson had only a brief cup of coffee with the Tigers.

Ed Yarnall at least suited up in pinstripes, but his MLB career lasted just 20 innings.

3. July 21, 1988. New York trades Jay Buhner, Rick Balabon, and a PTBNL (Troy Evers) to the Seattle Mariners for Ken Phelps.

Jay Buhner is widely remembered for three things: his bald head, his power-hitting abilities, and for his inclusion in a trade that seemed so bad it found its way into an episode of Seinfeld a few years after the move (Frank Costanza loses it and yells at George Steinbrenner).

Frank was right.

Buhner logged all of 99 plate appearances for New York before the trade. He didn’t hit much in that stretch, batting .198/.253/.319 with just three home runs, but he most definitely turned things around after the move.

Buhner became a fixture in the Mariners lineup over the next 14 seasons. He hit in the heart of their lineup, was a leader in their clubhouse, and became a fan-favorite. The trade is often characterized as one of the best in Mariners history. Buhner hit .255/.360/.494 during his tenure in Seattle, adding another 304 home runs (including hitting 40+ in three straight years from ’95 to ’97) to his resume.

Neither Balabon nor Evers would reach the majors.

Phelps, meanwhile, hit just .240/.339/.442 during his time in New York. He’d get just 342 plate appearances before being traded to Oakland midway through the 1989 season for a minor leaguer (Scott Holcomb).