Detroit Tigers All-Time Lists

Detroit Tigers: The Five Worst Trades in Franchise History

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DETROIT - JULY 8: Edgar Renteria #8 of the Detroit Tigers stands ready at bat against the Cleveland Indians on July 8, 2008 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT - JULY 8: Edgar Renteria #8 of the Detroit Tigers stands ready at bat against the Cleveland Indians on July 8, 2008 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers
COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 22: Hall of Famer Jim Bunning looks on at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers trade Jim Bunning/Gus Triandos to Philadelphia for Don Demeter/Jack Hamilton

This trade hurts in particular because while hindsight is 20/20, the Tigers already knew what they had in Jim Bunning when they made the decision to trade him. Trading a prospect for an established player, and then having that prospect blossom into a superstar, is unlucky. Trading an established superstar and getting nothing in return, well that often leads to someone losing their job.

But that’s exactly what the Tigers did on December 5, 1963 when they traded future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, along with infielder Gus Triandos, to the Phillies in exchange for infielder Don Demeter and right-hander Jack Hamilton.

Bunning had been with the Tigers for nine years, posting a 118-87 record with a 3.45 ERA. He made five All-Star games, including three in a row, and was one of the most durable arms in the league.

However, the Tigers must have felt he was on the decline. In need of hitting, the team acquired Don Demeter, who was coming off three straight seasons of 20 or more home runs. Demeter kept that streak going, hitting 22 in 1964 for the Tigers. He had a solid year in 1965 before getting dealt to Boston in 1966.

Jack Hamilton was a bust. He only threw 19 1/3 innings for the Tigers from 1964-1965, posting an ugly 9.78 ERA.

Meanwhile, Bunning did what Hall of Famers do: dominated. He pitched eight more seasons, going 106-97 with a 3.10 ERA and a stellar 1.15 WHIP. He made two more All-Star teams and finished second in Cy Young voting in 1967. Just for good measure, Bunning even tossed a second no-hitter.

Ouch.

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