Publish Date: 03/08/2022
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
Let’s play “Grade the Trade”. My first one is from December 16, 1976. The Reds trade first baseman Tony Perez and reliever Will McEnaney to the Montreal Expos for pitchers Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray.
I’m just spitballing here. Perez was 34 years old and the Reds had a rising young player in Dan Driessen who had just proved his worth as a DH in the 1976 World Series and could play either first or third. The Reds apparently felt they had to make a decision on Driessen and they certainly weren’t going to supplant Pete Rose at third.
Fryman would provide another LH starter with Norman to replace departed Don Gullett. Murray, who came in with a reputation of not giving up HRs (more on that later), would join reigning Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Eastwick and bolster the bullpen.
Perez would provide veteran leadership and offense for an up-and-coming Expos team.
As Perez’s replacement, Driessen provided the Reds with some decent, steady production (the best season was 1977 with 17 HR, 91 RBI, .300 BA) for the next seven and a half seasons, but he was no Perez when it came to leadership.
Fryman was actually a 1976 All-Star coming in and went 5-5 with a 5.38 ERA before abruptly retiring from the game in July after bickering with Sparky Anderson over being sent to the bullpen after winning his last three decisions as a starter.
Murray had a decent W-L record in 1977 (7-2 with 4 saves), but also gave up 13 HRs, a staggering amount for a reliever, much less one who came in with a reputation for not giving up any. He pitched 15 games in 1978 before being traded to the Mets for Ken Henderson.
Perez was far from finished as he gave the Expos three solid seasons (46 HR, 242 RBI) and helped steady the team while such talents as Gary Carter and Andre Dawson developed.
McEnaney lasted one season (W-L 3-5, 3.95 ERA, 3 saves) with the Expos and was out of baseball by 1979.
Grade for the Expos: B. Good production and leadership from Perez at a time when they needed it. Not much from McEnaney.
Grade for the Reds: C. This trade definitely hurt the Reds in the leadership department, but it’s hard to say they would have gotten back to the postseason if this trade hadn’t been made. The Dodgers’ talent all just came together and came into its own, plus Tommy John returned. Driessen was okay, but Fryman and Murray definitely didn’t give anything long-term.