Today in Blue Jays History: Jays trade for Cliff Johnson

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38 Years Ago On August 29, 1985, the Blue Jays sent three minor leaguers, Matt Williams (no, not that Matt Williams), Jeff Mays and Greg Ferlanda, to the Texas Rangers for Cliff Johnson. At the...

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At the time of the trade, the Blue Jays were in 1st place, 4.5 games up on the second-place Yankees, but we were running a platoon of Al Oliver and Jeff Burroughs at DH. They could have done a better job at the position, though Burroughs was hitting.261/.375/.422 at the time, which doesn’t seem that bad to me. On the other hand, Oliver was hitting just .257/.298/.376, but the Jays, for whatever reason decided to replace Burroughs, not Oliver.

Even though Johnson didn’t hit much for them, over that last month, just .274/.343/.315, with just one extra-base hit, a home run, in 24 games, we did make it to the playoffs, losing out to the Royals in 7 games. Cliff hit .368/.400/.474 in those seven games.Third base with Rance Mulliniks and Garth Iorg.The Jays won 3 of the first 5 games of the series, then, starting with game 6, the Royals devised a plan to neutralize the Jays platoons.

As mentioned, Johnson had been a Jay in 1984 but signed with the Rangers as a free agent in the off-season. Back in the 1980s, there was a much different way to compensate teams for losing free agents than there is today. In the early 80’s, the MLB owners wanted some way to compensate teams that lost star players to free agency. More to the point, they wanted a way to slow the pace of salary inflation that free agency caused.


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