2. October 21, 1981: Yankees Trade Willie McGee to Cardinals, Nab Absolute Mega-Star Bob Sykes
Willie McGee could've been an '80s Yankee star, directly coming off a 1981 World Series loss that led to George Steinbrenner wreaking havoc.
Imagine the ripple effects if New York keeps him? McGee debuted with the Cardinals in 1982, instantly becoming a star and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year chase. It's not clear what was obscuring George Steinbrenner's vision here. Let's take McGee off the Cards -- do they still go all in on speed in the '80s, leading to a 1982 World Series win and two other NL Championships? Do the Yankees still add Rickey Henderson and get to the Cardinals' blueprint first, putting some elite burners around Mattingly and Dave Winfield?
McGee was one of the preeminent stars of the decade, winning MVP in 1985 and hitting .353 with 10 bombs, 18 triples, and a 147 OPS+. He played until 1999 at the age of 40, still showing out in a part-time role after returning to the Cards. And who'd the Yankees get in return? Bob Sykes, who is technically a living, breathing guy, but never made an MLB appearance again after pitching for the Cards in 1981. Ghastly.