Five years ago today, the Texas Rangers traded Frankie Francisco to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Napoli. It was news that was so exciting, we had to create a comment overflow thread, and the two threads had a combined total of almost 2000 comments.
At the time, we were full of enthusiasm for the deal. In retrospect, it worked out better than the Rangers could ever have imagined...and it all started with Adrian Beltre.
As you may recall, in the 2010-11 offseason, the Rangers' top target was Cliff Lee. The Rangers had traded for him in 2010, they went to the World Series with him, and they wanted to re-sign him. He was also being courted by the Yankees and the Phillies, and of course, ended up signing with Philadelphia. For much of the offseason, Adrian Beltre as a potential Ranger wasn't even on the radar.
In fact, it was Anaheim that looked like the favorite to sign Beltre. Oakland had engaged early in the offseason with Beltre, but couldn't get anything worked out. Then Anaheim got into negotiations, those negotiations bogged down, and Beltre was still on the market. In swooped the Rangers, coming seemingly out of nowhere to sign him, prompting the legendary Spanish Beltre thread at LSB, and leading us to be excited about Beltre, despite knowing that the last couple of years of the deal would probably end up looking bad (SPOILER ALERT: The last couple of years of the deal didn't end up looking bad).
In response to losing out on Beltre -- and to a division rival -- Arte Moreno decided the Angels had to make a move to get a big bat. That move was to send Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to Toronto for Vernon Wells and $5 million in cash -- a deal that was largely derided and mocked as foolishness by the Angels (SPOILER ALERT: It was foolishness).
The Jays' primary motivation was getting Wells and his awful contract off the books. Having done that, they were then ready to spin off Napoli, who they didn't really need, for something else. Enter Texas, who sent Francisco (who had been a free agent, but accepted arbitration rather than go out onto the market) to the Jays for Napoli.
And there was much rejoicing.
So to recap...because Moreno opted to pinch pennies on Adrian Beltre, the Rangers got a Hall of Fame third baseman who was instrumental in the best run of success the team has ever had. The Rangers also got fan favorite, and major contributor to the 2011 A.L. Championship team, Mike Napoli, because Anaheim didn't sign Beltre. And finally, the Angels ended up stuck with the wholly unproductive Vernon Wells and his albatross contract.
Napoli, of course, put up a .320/.414/.631 line in 432 plate appearances for Texas in 2011, then a .227/.343/.469 line in 2012, good for a combined 7.2 bWAR. And he came back and put up a .295/.396/513 line in 91 plate appearances in 2015 after the Rangers acquired him from Boston for the stretch run.
So yeah, that worked out okay for Texas...