Of all the trades in baseball history, there may never have been one bigger than the trade Nick Cafardo reports the Expos tried to make with the Yankees. In his most recent Boston Globe column, Cafardo retells the anecdote:
When Jeffrey Loria owned the Expos, he was obsessed with Derek Jeter. So he ordered his general manager, Jim Beattie to try to make a deal with the Yankees and to give up whatever he had to. Beattie offered Yankees GM Brian Cashman Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. Stunned, Cashman told Beattie, "I can't trade Derek Jeter."
Whoa. It's tempting to think about what might have been. Would the Yankees have dominated the AL longer and more thoroughly with both Pedro and Guerrero in the fold? Almost certainly. Would the Red Sox have won the World Series in 2004 without Pedro? Probably not. Would Derek Jeter have become The Captain in Montreal, and would he have saved baseball in Montreal? No, and almost certainly no.
But here's the problem with Cafardo's story: It's total bullshit. Malarkey. In part or completely false. At least the way he describes it. Here's why:
First and foremost, Pedro was traded by the Expos to the Red Sox in November of 1997, three months before Cashman was elevated to GM by the Yankees. So there's no way that Cashman, as the GM of the Yankees, could have acquired Pedro Martinez from the Expos. For another, Jeffrey Loria didn't buy into the Expos until December of 1999, so he wouldn't have been around to order Jim Beattie to do anything.
But, ok, maybe Cashman was pulling the strings for New York at that point. Let's pretend that happened. And let's pretend that Jeffrey Loria from the future came back in time like The Flash in that dumb movie that I just saw and am not going to talk about and ordered Beattie to get Derek Jeter for when Loria bought the Expos. Still, our only window for discussing this deal is the fall of 1997. At that point, Derek Jeter was going to be 23, and had played two full seasons and change. He had won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and had won one World Series in 1996. But the Yankees had gotten beat by the Indians in the 1997 AL Division Series. Derek Jeter was not a hero yet, and was not a household name, he wasn't a World Series hero. He wasn't The Captain. He wasn't Derek Effing Jeter.
Meanwhile, in this scenario, the Expos would've been offering a 23 year old Vlad Guerrero, who had been the #2 prospect in baseball before the start of the season, according to Baseball America, who had just hit .302/.350/.483 in 90 games. They also would be offering, and I can't emphasize this strongly enough, THE REIGNING CY YOUNG AWARD WINNER IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE, a 26 year old ace who had just won 17 games and struck out 305 batters in 241.1 innings, completed 13 games in 31 starts, and had posted a 1.90 ERA.
If this call had been made in the fall of 1997, and Brian Cashman didn't immediately take it and then immediately call his parents to tell them that he had just secured the Yankees' future for the next, like, 15 years, he would have A) been certifiably insane and B) have been fired on the spot.
It would have changed the face of Major League Baseball. But it never happened. At least not the way it was described. Jeffrey Loria may have ordered Beattie to trade for Jeter. Vlad Guerrero might have been discussed in a deal to the Yankees. But there is no way that the Expos ever offered two eventual Hall of Famers for one. Not only doesn't it pass the smell test, but it's fundamentally impossible. Not as Cafardo describes it, anyways. But otherwise, yeah, cute story, Nick. Next time, spend five minutes on Baseball Reference.com.