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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / MLB Grade the Trade 1977: 4-Team Trade, Rangers, Pirates, Braves, and Mets (Blyleven to the Pirates)

MLB Grade the Trade 1977: 4-Team Trade, Rangers, Pirates, Braves, and Mets (Blyleven to the Pirates)

December 8th, 1977
Publish Date: 04/07/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

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WARNING: this trade involved four teams and eleven players, so get ready for a long post!

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Here are the Details

Rangers – Sent Bert Blyleven to the Pirates, Adrian Devine, Tommy Boggs, and Eddie Miller to the Braves, and Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve to the Mets.

Pirates – Sent Al Oliver and Nelson Norman to the Rangers.

Braves – Sent Willie Montanez to the Mets

Mets – Sent John Milner to the Pirates and Jon Matlack to the Rangers.

Reason trades were made: The only outside factor I was able to come up with here was Blyleven giving the middle finger on national TV as a Ranger late in 1977 (according to Wikipedia). If anybody has any other details, feel free to provide them.

How it worked out for the Pirates: Blyleven gave them three pretty solid seasons as a starter and was a key part of the 1979 World Series Championship. After 1980, he became disgruntled with the Pirates and threatened to retire if he wasn’t traded. The Pirates obliged and sent him to Cleveland. Milner became a solid backup outfielder and first baseman and a reliable pinch hitter for the next three seasons. His peak was the 1979 championship season with 16 HR. After 1980, he was dealt to the Expos.

How it worked out for the Mets: Grieve only played 54 games in 1978. Henderson only played seven before being traded. The mercurial Montanez had a solid 1978 (17 HR, 96 RBI) and a good start in 1979 before being dealt mid-season to the Rangers. Check out the top sports betting sites!

How it worked out for the Braves: Boggs appeared to have potential as a solid starter, but couldn’t stay healthy. He somehow hung on for six injury-prone seasons. In two healthy seasons, he had a pretty good 1980 (12-9, 3.42 ERA, 3 ShO), followed by a not-so-good 1981 (3-13, 4.10 ERA). Devine had two nondescript seasons, one as a spot starter and reliever (1978, 5-4, 3 saves). Miller was mainly a backup OF and decent pinch runner (15 SB in 27 games in 1978, 23 in 50 in 1980).

How it worked out for the Rangers: Oliver was productive all his career no matter where he played, and that certainly was the case with Texas. Four MVP-caliber seasons over .300, two All-Star appearances, career-high 117 RBI in 1980. Norman mainly was a utility infielder for four seasons with the Rangers. Matlack had a hard-luck 1978 (15-13, but a stellar 2.27 ERA) followed by an injury-plagued 1979, a bounce-back 1980 (10-10, 3.68) and then three more bullpen seasons before retiring.

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Grades: Pirates – A. Can’t argue with a WS Championship, two key cogs in the machine. Blyleven’s attitude keeps it from A+.

Mets – D minus. Didn’t improve them at all and Montanez got another sticker for his suitcase.

Braves – D. The only real contribution was from Boggs, and he was always hurt.

Rangers – A. For Oliver and Matlack (when healthy).

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