MLB Grade the Trade: The St. Louis Cardinals trade closer Al Hrabosky to the Kansas City Royals for reliever Mark Littell and catcher Buck Martinez

December 8, 1977

Reason for trade: In my research, I can’t find any reason out of the ordinary why this trade was made. As a young teen, I do recall reading a 1978 MLB pre-season book saying that the trade “should be beneficial to both relievers”, but the book never went into any more details than that. So, if anybody close to the players (including Mr. Hrabosky himself) can share anything, it would be much appreciated. I don’t recall any issues the Cardinals had with Hrabosky at the time, nor the Royals with Littell, except that he struggled a bit in 1977.

Grade for the Royals: B+. Hrabosky had two solid seasons in the AL, helping the Royals to their third-straight ALCS appearance in 1978 with a 2.88 ERA, 20 saves, and a 6-5 WL record. He followed that with a 9-4 record, 11 saves, and a 3.74 ERA in 1979 before returning to the NL as a free agent for the Braves.

Grade for the Cardinals: B. The change of scenery seemed to do Littell some good, as he posted two stellar seasons ERA wise, 2.79 in 1978 and 2.19 in 1979. He posted 24 saves in two seasons and a 13-12 WL record before contracting bone chips in his right elbow, which resulted in his being used sparingly by the Cardinals for three more seasons before retiring. He did get a World Series ring in 1982.

Martinez left the Cardinals about as quickly as he came, being traded to the Brewers on the same day.

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