Oakland Athletics: 30 Worst Players in Franchise History

19 of 30

Ruben Sierra

Monday night, August 31, 1992 vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

The A’s come to bat in the first inning and slugger Jose Canseco gets called back from the on-deck circle and replaced by Lance Blankenship. The reason? Athletics’ general manager Sandy Alderson had just agreed to trade the slugger to the Rangers for fellow 1992 All-Star outfielder Ruben Sierra, starting pitcher Bobby Witt, and reliever Jeff Russell. If you thought the July 2014 Cespedes deal dropped your mouth, imagine that 10-fold in 1992.

No player had more than Canseco’s 230 home runs from his rookie year of 1986 through that time. He, at 28, was in his prime and widely regarded as the best player in baseball – a key cog for an A’s team that had won the pennant in three of the last four years.

“First there are guys like Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco,” Carney Lansford said of the ’92 team at the time. “Then there’s everybody else.”

And Ruben Sierra? Well Sierra at that time was quarantined due to the chicken pox and didn’t appear for the A’s until Sept. 6. There was some hope. Sierra was only 26, and a three-time All-Star in his seventh season in the starting lineup for a mediocre Rangers team. Though he wasn’t the best at any part of the game, he’d shown the ability to hit for average, some power, and some speed. He was having an awful season, he was a soon-to-be free agentl, and he was not accepted with the Arlington Stadium fans. It was well-known at the time that Rangers GM Tom Grieve didn`t want Sierra, which meant ownership didn’t have to make the dreaded financial decision on him. Even today, there is a joke that Grieve and Alderson that each gave up their “problem children” in the deal.

The move didn’t come through. The A’s at the time were a lock for another AL West title, but lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1992 ALCS and faultered for the next seven seasons. Sierra put up moderately disappointing numbers over the next 2 1/2 seasons in Oakland – in 1,560 plate appearances, he hit only 60 homers with a .253 average – before the A’s traded him with a pitching prospect to the Yankees for Danny Tartabull in 1995. Sierra would switch uniforms another 13 times before being out of baseball in 2005.

Next: The Worst A's Players in History: Jeremy Giambi