An Exploration Of Trade Histories

ST. PETERSBURG: Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with outfielder Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers during batting practice before Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Which two teams have traded with each other the most often? Which two teams have gone the longest without swinging a trade with each other? Which two teams have never traded with each other at all?

Last week, I got it in my head to examine the trade history between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Baseball-Reference made this a lot easier than it probably should have been and, as expected, it turns out the Red Sox and Yankees have not been frequent trade partners. The end result was this feature. The last trade between the two parties came in 1997, when Mike Stanley went to New York and Tony Armas Jr. went to Boston. There were a couple other players involved, but anyway. You could say that the Yankees trading for Mike Stanley helped facilitate the Red Sox's trade for Pedro Martinez. The teams haven't gotten back together since.

That was satisfying enough on its own, but it left me wanting to look at more. Have any two teams gone longer without swinging a trade than the Red Sox and Yankees? Have any two teams never swung a trade at all? Which two teams have traded the most? Once again, Baseball-Reference made these questions entirely too easy to answer.

The Most Trades

This isn't going to come as much of a surprise, or it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but the two teams who have made the most trades with one another are the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. In all, Baseball-Reference has them down for 96 trades, and I'm going to take the website's word for it rather than fact-check every one of them. No other pair of teams comes even close to this total.

I say it shouldn't be surprising because both the Reds and the Cardinals are fantastically old. The first listed trade between them came in November 1886, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings sent Jack Boyle and $350 to the St. Louis Browns for Hugh Nicol. For our purposes, these count as the same teams. Boyle was known as "Honest Jack" and he was born in Cincinnati. After his playing career was over, he ran a saloon and managed a team named the Terre Haute Hottentots. Nicol was born in Scotland, and he was listed at 5-foot-4. After his playing career was over, he managed a team named the Des Moines Prohibitionists, and 11 years later he managed a team named the Peoria Distillers.

The most recent trade between the Reds and Cardinals came in April 2006, when the Cardinals acquired Timo Perez for cash. Being division rivals and all, I don't think the Reds and Cardinals feel much like trading with each other anymore.

The Most Time Since A Trade

In the beginning, I mentioned that the Red Sox and Yankees haven't traded since 1997. Other teams have gone longer. Quite a bit longer, it turns out. The Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins haven't made a deal since April 1978, when the Royals bought Randy Bass. An accomplished triple-A first baseman, Bass was blocked in Minnesota by Rod Carew. Bass batted two times for the Royals. He drifted around before finally finding his place in Japan. Now he's an Oklahoma state senator.

If you're dissatisfied by trades for cash, the Royals dealt Tom Burgmeier to the Twins for Ken Gill in October 1973. It is the only other trade the two teams have made. Gill never got out of the minors. Burgmeier was a fairly effective reliever. He was born in St. Paul, so if ever there were a good guy for the Royals to send to Minnesota, Burgmeier was him.

No Trades Ever

There is but one pair of teams that has never before swung a deal. You'd assume that at least one of the teams is the Tampa Bay Rays or the Arizona Diamondbacks, and, indeed, the Rays are one. The other is the Texas Rangers. The Rays and the Rangers have never traded, while the Rays have traded with the Astros and Mariners six times, and the Rangers have traded with the Indians 41 times.

This actually got a little attention last October, when the Rays and Rangers met in the playoffs for the second year in a row. Said Jon Daniels:

"There have been a couple of things we've talked about," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We have a good relationship with their group, it just hasn't happened."

I don't know how many times I've read suggestions or rumors linking the Rangers to Wade Davis. The Rangers haven't traded for Wade Davis, as the Rangers haven't traded with Wade Davis' team. Eventually something will go down, involving players we know now or perhaps players we don't, but for the time being ... well I'm uncomfortable making sexual metaphors, but you see where this was going to go.

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