2. Giles for Rincon
By 1999, the clock was ticking on the Cleveland Indians. Fifty seasons had come and gone without the Tribe winning the World Series championship, all general manager John Hart had to show for it was 2 AL championship rings.
Jose Mesa‘s career trended the wrong way after blowing a save in Game 7 of the World Series back in 1997. He lost his closing job to Mike Jackson the next year. By 1998, Mesa was gone, so was Eric Plunk, who was traded midway through the ’98 campaign for Doug Jones.
The bullpen needed help, and Hart’s solution was Rincon notched 135 strikeouts in 125 innings with the Pirates during his first two years. His ERA between 1997 and 1998 was 3.45 and 2.91, respectively.
Once he came to Cleveland, though, it seemed like he couldn’t get anyone out. He fanned just 30 in 44.2 innings and his ERA shot up to 4.42.
Giles, meanwhile, finally got the chance to be a full-time player after being blocked by bigger names in Cleveland. He hit .315 with 39 bombs in his first season as a Pirate, would go on to be an All-Star in 2000 and 2001.
Giles then moved onto San Diego, where the California native was a fixture in the Padres lineups for most of the 2000s. He ended up hitting 287 lifetime homers, but only 37 came in an Indians uniform.
Rincon actually turned into a solid reliever the ensuring years for Cleveland, and he was eventually traded in 2002 as the Indians scaled back payroll and the losses start to mount. Billy Beane saw the value still left in Rincon, and added him to his Moneyball driven A’s of the early 2000s.