A Familiar Sounding Trade Negotiation

February 3, 1979

After Calvin Griffith’s infamous speech at the Waseca Lion’s Club, many players on the Twins were unhappy. Among them was star hitter Rod Carew, who had made it clear that he was not interested in playing for Griffith anymore (and Griffith was likely not interested in paying Carew what he was worth). Calvin Griffith had been working on a deal to send Carew to the Yankees, and appeared close to completing it when George Steinbrenner called the deal off due to some remarks Carew had made about the Yankee organization. The fact was, Carew had already negotiated a contract with the California Angels, and was not about to approve a deal with the Yankees, so the talks with the Yankees were purely for trade leverage.

What Griffith really wanted was Carney Lansford, the 21-year-old Angels third baseman who had just had a fine rookie season and looked to have a great career ahead of him. California was smart, however, and knowing they had the leverage, were not about to offer the young star. That, combined with Carew’s imposed trade deadline of February 20, meant that Griffith’s back was against the wall. If he did not trade Carew by that date, Rod would simply play the year out and leave as a free agent at the end of the season. Knowing that he needed to get compensation for the star, Griffith struck a deal with California on February 3. In exchange for Carew, the Twins received outfielder Ken Landreaux, catcher Dave Engle, and pitchers Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens.

Landreaux and Hartzell were the two major league portions of the trade. Both figured to get regular playing time immediately for the Twins. Engle and Havens were both prospects, neither having played at the major league level prior to the trade.

While Carew went on to finish his career in California with seven mostly productive seasons, the Twins end of the bargain was a mixed bag. Landreaux lasted just two seasons with the Twins before he was traded to the Dodgers for a package that included Mickey Hatcher. Before he left, Landreaux put in two solid season in center field. Paul Hartzell lasted just one year, and it was a very medicore one, going 6-10 with a 5.36 ERA for the Twins in 1979 before he was released outright by the club after spring training in 1980.

Neither Engle nor Havens saw any time with the major league club until 1981. Engle had some decent seasons for the Twins from 1981-1985, but served primarily as a back up catcher and designated hitter with relatively little pop in his bat. His best season at the plate came in 1983, when he batted .305/.350/.449 with 8 home runs in 408 plate appearances.

Havens lasted three seasons with the Twins, with 1982 being the only year he lasted to entire season.

For his part, Calvin Griffith did not regret the deal when asked about it on the occasion of Carew’s number retirement ceremony in 1987.

“I don’t regret it because it was either Carew staying here, or me getting out of baseball,” said Griffith, who sold the team in 1984. “I thought I was entitled to stick around a few more years. That’s why we had to let him go. What the hell, I didn’t want to go into debt to pay him. I would have needed to go to the bank to borrow money, and there was no way I was going to do that.”

For more on this trade check out Will Young’s write up from a couple of years ago.


One Response to A Familiar Sounding Trade Negotiation

  1. Beau says:

    Well, this is timely.

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