The New York Yankees traded for David Justice on June 29, 2000 and won the World Series that season.
Twenty years ago, the Yankees felt they needed an upgrade in the outfield with the trade deadline approaching. Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa was a rumored target (and so was Tigers slugger Juan Gonzalez), but general manager Brian Cashman wasn’t paying such a high price for the former MVP.
So he went for the more cost-effective option and called up the Cleveland Indians to work out a deal for David Justice. At the end of the day, the Bombers needed some sort of a spark. They were hovering around .500 in late June and didn’t seem to have that same energy from ’99.
The Yanks acquired the three-time All-Star in exchange for pitchers Jake Westbrook and Zach Day as well as outfielder Ricky Ledee.
After the trade was finalized, the Yankees went 49-38 to finish the year 87-74 and win the AL East. Justice flourished in the Bronx and didn’t miss a beat, slashing .305/.391/.585 with 43 runs scored, 20 home runs and 60 RBI in 78 games. Think that helped put the Bombers back on track?
But Justice was far from finished. While his ALDS and World Series performances weren’t exactly impressive, the former Braves first-round pick won the ALCS MVP to help oust Alex Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners. He scored four runs, hit two homers, registered eight RBI, and recorded an .824 OPS.
While he would only remain in New York through the 2001 season (and would be out of the league after the 2002 campaign), this is arguably the greatest deadline deal in Yankees history. There’s no question the Bombers probably don’t win it all without the contributions of Justice, which culminated with a Subway Series triumph in the Fall Classic.
Just imagine if the Yankees had lost that OR if the Mets had won the WS against someone else. Derek Jeter knew the stakes — he said he’d have to move out of NYC if they didn’t come out on top.
Yankee fans know Cashman is a trade wizard, but few realize his best deal (at the moment) came two decades ago.