This Day in Transaction History: Phillies trade Ferguson Jenkins to Cubs

Ferguson Jenkins
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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Astros trading pitcher Curt Schilling to the Phillies back in 1992. The deal became a windfall for the Phillies as Schilling blossomed into a star while their end of the deal, pitcher Jason Grimsley, didn’t match up when all was said and done.

The Phillies have also been on the other end of some really lopsided trades. On this day in 1966, the Phillies acquired pitchers Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for 1B/OF John Herrnstein, outfielder Adolfo Phillips, and pitcher Ferguson Jenkins.

Buhl, near the end of his career, would post a 4.93 ERA across 135 innings in 1966-67 for the Phillies. Jackson was also near the end of his career but finished stronger, compiling a 2.95 ERA over 752 1/3 innings for the Phillies between 1966-68.

Phillips was productive in his brief time with the Cubs, batting .256/.355/.432 across 1,577 plate appearances from 1966-69. The Cubs dealt him to the Astros in June 1969. Herrnstein came to the plate just 20 times for the Cubs, mustering just three singles and drawing three walks for a .476 OPS.

Jenkins turned the trade into a lopsided win for the Cubs. From 1967-72, Jenkins won a Cy Young Award (1971), finished in the top-three three other times, made the NL All-Star team three times, won at least 20 games in each of those seasons, and led the league in strikeouts with 273 in 1969. Jenkins made close to 40 starts in each of those seasons as well and led the league in complete games three times over his initial eight years with the Cubs.

Despite his incredible personal success, Jenkins never pitched in the postseason for the Cubs (nor, as it would turn out, with any other team). In 1973, Jenkins was feeling disillusioned with baseball. The Cubs traded him to the Rangers after he went 14-16 with a 3.89 ERA, both career-worsts. He bounced back in his first year with the Rangers, though, going 25-12 with a 2.82 ERA, finishing second in AL Cy Young balloting and fifth in MVP balloting.

Jenkins would be traded twice more. The Rangres dealt him to the Red Sox in November 1975 and the Red Sox sent him back to the Rangers in December 1977. Jenkins finished out the final two years of his career, 1982-83, back with the Cubs.

Jenkins retired with 284 wins and 3,192 strikeouts over 4,500 2/3 innings. He completed 267 games and authored 49 shutouts. Along with the hardware, Jenkins’ career numbers are quite impressive. Baseball Reference credits him with 82.2 Wins Above Replacement, in fact, which ranks 23rd among pitchers in the Hall of Fame, ahead of Bob Gibson (81.7) and slightly behind Steve Carlton (84.1). Jenkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 in his third year on the ballot.

Amusingly, the Fergie Jenkins trade isn’t even the only trade with the Cubs that went horribly wrong for the Phillies. In January 1982, the Phillies famously sent Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Cubs in exchange for Iván de Jesus. Sandberg, of course, was a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner and frequently an MVP candidate. He would earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in 2005. de Jesus spent three forgettable years in Philly, posting a total of 2.9 WAR. By comparison, Sandberg put up 68 WAR over 15 seasons with the Cubs.