The Cleveland Indians, fresh off of a disappointing sixth place 73-89 finish, trade their best offensive weapon, Joe Carter, to the San Diego Padres for Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, and Chris James, beginning what would become the best sustained run in the history of the franchise.
Carter is entering the final year of his contract and appeared willing to depart the club for free agency. He played in all 162 games of the 1989 season, but hit for his lowest average (.243) with the club. He compensated with a career-high 35 home runs and his third 100-RBI season.
James split the 1989 season between Philadelphia and San Diego. A third baseman and corner outfielder by trade, he would get regular playing time over the next two seasons with Cleveland before becoming a free agent. He may be best remembered for his nine-RBI game on May 4, 1991, against Oakland.
Alomar and Baerga were the obvious keys to the deal and two significant pieces of the Indians’ future success. Alomar, who had played eight games over the previous two seasons while blocked by veteran Benito Santiago, will win the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1990 on his way to a 20-year career with six trips to the All-Star Game. Baerga will make his MLB debut in 1990 and become a regular in the middle of the Tribe lineup for seven years, hitting over .300 for four straight seasons.