CREDIT: MSNBC Sports
With a new ballpark halfway built across the street, the Seattle Mariners decided to remodel their lineup as well. On July 31, 1998, the foundation was laid. That was the day they got rid of pitching ace Randy Johnson. Two more future Hall of Famers, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, soon would follow Johnson out the door. Victories, more than the Mariners could imagine, would be the return.
Randy Johnson deal - 1998
The best pitcher in the game at the time was shipped to the Houston Astros for three prospects — pitcher Freddie Garcia, pitcher John Halama and shortstop Carlos Guillen. Groans were heard throughout Seattle.
Garcia was damaged goods at first. He pitched five games for Class AAA Tacoma before going on the disabled list with sore shoulder. Halama started in Tacoma, but pitched in 38 games with Mariners. Guillen reported to the Mariners the next year.
Almost three years later, the trade arguably is the best in Seattle club history. The Mariners got three starters out of the deal.
Johnson hasn't lost any of his luster, earning two Cy Young Awards, appearing in two postseasons and going 55-21 on the mound since he left.
Garcia, eventually replacing Johnson as the No. 1 pitcher in the rotation, is 33-14, not counting two victories over the New York Yankees in last year's postseason.
Halama is the fourth pitcher in the rotation and has provided a 33-23 record.
Guillen is the starting shortstop, a solid fielder and a clutch hitter.
The Mariners are making off like bandits this season.
Johnson earned $6 million in his final Seattle season, and gets $13.3 million annually from the Arizona Diamondbacks now.
Garcia - $425,000
Halama - $425,000
Guillen - $285,000
Ken Griffey Jr. deal - 1999
The particulars: Griffey, Seattle's eight-time All-Star center fielder, asked to be traded to his hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds, and got his wish. In return, the Mariners received center fielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Brett Tomko, pitcher Jake Meyer and shortstop Antonio Perez.
Griffey supplied his normal power burst last year, 40 homers and 118 RBIs, but his batting average dipped to .271 -- nearly 30 points below his career average.
Cameron was just four points back, at .267, and produced 19 homers and 78 RBIs.
Griffey committed five errors in center, Cameron six.
Cameron provided more offensive speed, 24 stolen bases to Griffey's six.
Tomko went 7-5 on the mound, splitting time between the bullpen and rotation.
Griffey missed most of the first half of this season with a groin injury.
Cameron has won two games with late-inning home runs and has more than 200 at-bats.
Tomko is back in the minors, but the right-hander and Perez are mentioned in nearly every trade possibility for Seattle.
Griffey made $8.2 million in his final Seattle season, gets $9.7 million this year from the Reds.
The Mariners are on the hook for less than half of that, paying Cameron $3.4 million and Tomko $1.1 million this season. The savings here helped remake the bullpen.
In two seasons, Cameron has been on the field more, at a lot less the cost. But wait, there's more!
Alex Rodriguez’s departure - 2000
The particulars: Rodriguez, maybe the best shortstop to play the game, pulled out of Seattle after the Texas Rangers gave him pro sports’ richest contract -- $252 million over 10 years. The Mariners' last reported offer to A-Rod was $120 million for eight years. He made just $3.75 in his final season.
The Mariners lost a .316 hitter, 41 home runs and 118 RBIs at short, as well as their last marquee name. Top-heavy Texas found itself with Seattle's earlier dilemma, unable to purchase any viable pitching, particularly bullpen help.
Making $22 million this season, A-Rod is hitting .100 points higher than his successor, has nearly doubled his RBI total and has 21 homers to Guillen's two. However, Guillen, at the bargain rate of $285,000, has made just six errors to A-Rod's nine.
At short, Rodriguez's exit was a one-sided loss. Yet his available salary made it possible for the Mariners to invest wisely elsewhere.