The Old Five-For-One Deal

The Phillies are talking about sending multiple players to Toronto to acquire Roy Halladay. If that deal goes down, it will bring back memories of another deal that sent multiple players to Cleveland more than 26 years ago.

Following the 1982 season, the Phillies were looking for a way to return to the post-season after falling short and finishing at 89-73, three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals - yes, the Cardinals were in the East back then - for the division title. They looked toward Cleveland and saw young Von Hayes, a 24 year old left-handed hitter with tons of potential. He had yet to breakout in the majors, but did hit 14 home runs with 82 RBI in his first full season in the majors. The Phillies knew that getting Hayes wouldn't be easy, but they gave it their best shot.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Indians finished six games under .500 in 1982 and were sixth in the seven team AL East. They were looking to fill a number of holes and matched up well with the Phillies, who were capable of offering a variety of young players.

So, in December of 1982, the Phillies acquired Von Hayes for the cost of five players - Jay Baller, Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich and Jerry Willard - immediately prompting Phillies fans to refer to their new player as "Five For One" Hayes.

Among the players that the Phillies gave up, Manny Trillo was the best known. Trillo had come over from the Chicago Cubs in a February 1979 deal that also brought Greg Gross to the Phillies. In all, eight players changed teams in that deal and Trillo would become the Phillies starting second baseman until being shipped to Cleveland. Trillo was coming off a season that saw him win a spot in the All-Star Game and pick up his third Gold Glove Award in the last four seasons. He was just days shy of his 32nd birthday, but seemed to have plenty of game left in him, although his stint with Cleveland would be short-lived and he would finish the season with Montreal. Trillo would go from the Expos to the Giants, Cubs and Reds, where he would play his final major league game in 1989.

Like Trillo, George Vukovich - who was 26 at the time of the trade - had some major league experience under his belt and played in 123 games for the Phillies in 1982, hitting .272. In parts of three seasons with the Phillies, he had hit a combined .272 and figured to give Cleveland a solid, but not spectacular outfielder for years to come. Unfortunately, Vukovich would play three seasons in Cleveland, giving them basically the type of production that they thought they would get from him, but Cleveland opted to sell him to the Seibu Lions of the Japanese League following the 1985 season and he never did return to the majors.

Julio Franco made his major league debut with the Phillies in 1982 and would go on to play 25 seasons in the majors before calling it quits after the 2007 season. Few recall that Franco really made a name for himself while with the Indians, finishing second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1983 and finishing his eight year stint with the Indians as a career .297 hitter. For Cleveland, Franco was a key piece of the trade and they weren't going to do the deal without Franco being included, even though the Phillies had hoped to keep him in town. In the end, the Phillies included Franco, getting the deal to acquire Hayes done.

Jay Baller had also made his major league debut in 1982 with the Phillies and was a decent prospect, who had been drafted by the Phillies in the 1979 Draft. He would never actually pitch in the majors for Cleveland, but would spend parts of three seasons with the Cubs in the mid-80s. While he never really made it in the majors, he pitched well enough at the minor league level to hang around for ten years and finished his career with the Phillies, pitching in eight games in 1992. Catcher Jerry Willard wouldn't make his major league debut until 1984 with the Indians, but like Baller, would bounce around the minors for ten years and wound up spending a decent chunk of time in the majors with Cleveland, Oakland, the White Sox, Atlanta, Montreal and Seattle before he called it a career following the '94 season.

The Von Hayes deal was unlike a potential deal for Roy Halladay, because Hayes wasn't a truly established player and he certainly wasn't a star quality player. He was a guy with a lot of potential and was considered a five-tool prospect, who had a small major league sample size for the Phillies to judge him on. Hayes went on to become a major player with the Phillies, where he spent nine seasons before being traded to the California Angels for Kyle Abbott and Ruben Amaro Jr., who, of course, went on to be the current GM of the Phillies.

The Phillies went on to have decent success with Hayes, but were at the end of their run of true success after their World Series championship in 1980. Von Hayes was supposed to be the next great star in Philadelphia and he was, but was sort of a big fish in a small pond, since his star was somewhat dulled by the inability of the Phillies to reach the post-season. As for Cleveland, the deal never really did for them what they hoped it would either. They filled some holes, but Baller and Willard never became the players that they were projected to be.

That's what makes a deal like the one for Von Hayes or the one being discussed for Roy Halladay, so difficult to gauge at the time they're done. As much of a prospect that players like Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and others are, there is no telling how they're going to turn out. Some of the brightest prospects have stumbled at high levels of the minors and while it's certainly easier to judge a player at Double-A or Triple-A, there are no guarantees. Injuries can also play a part in a player's development. Just as nobody saw Drabek's Tommy John surgery coming, nobody could say for certain that he would rebound the way that he has. Keep in mind the story of Scott Mathieson, who recovered from one Tommy John surgery only to need another. That can happen at any time with any player.

It's easy to say that the Phillies can't give up four or five prospects for one pitcher, even if he's the top pitcher in the game, but it's possible that those prospects won't become the players that we all think they'll be as we watch them now. There are also no guarantees that Halladay would stay healthy in Philadelphia or that he would actually stay in Philadelphia following the end of his contract in 2010. He could also demand a trade following this season since he is in the middle of a multi-year contract when the trade was made.

The Von Hayes five-for-one deal was more than 26 years ago and can now be judged for how it turned out. At the time, the Phillies took a public relations hit and thankfully for them, Hayes was able to develop into a solid player, but the five-for-one tag followed him throughout his career with the Phillies. If the Roy Halladay deal eventually goes down and if it does cost the Phillies a bunch of prospects - which it obviously will - Halladay will also have to deal with the tag of that deal in his tenure with the Phillies. Fans will constantly continue to track the merits of what Halladay gives the Phillies compared to what the prospects who would head to Toronto would be giving the Blue Jays. And somewhere down the line, maybe 26 years after the Halladay trade, someone will  again ask whether giving up multiples of players for one piece of the puzzle is wise and they'll use the Halladay trade as a benchmark for that deal.



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