The Dodgers on Tuesday parted with one of the greatest hitters in franchise history, trading Pedro Guerrero to the Cardinals for left-handed starting pitcher John Tudor. It marked a bittersweet end to his Dodgers career for the 32-year-old Guerrero, a four-time All-Star who spent a bulk of the 1988 campaign on the disabled list with a neck injury.
Guerrero was hitting .298/.374/.409 with five home runs and 35 RBI in 59 games. He began the year at third base and started 44 of the first 50 games of the season. Guerrero then missed 51 games with a pinched nerve in his neck before returning on July 29. Guerrero played exclusively at first base since his return, hitting .246 with two home runs in 15 games.
Making $1.72 million in 1988, Guerrero is in the final year of his contract, and due to be a free agent at season's end. The Dodgers nearly traded him at the winter meetings to the Tigers for Kirk Gibson, but backed out with uncertainty of Gibson's potential pending free agency.
"Of course, I feel kind of bad," Guerrero told Sam McManis of the Los Angeles Times. "But, of course, I knew before the season this would probably be my last here. It's all business. I think it was time for me to get out of here. Or they thought it was time for me to go."
Tudor, 34, led the National League with a 2.29 ERA at the time of the trade, and was 6-5 in 21 starts with the Cardinals. He made nine postseason starts for the Cardinals in 1985 and 1987, and was 4-3 with a 3.15 ERA in October with St. Louis.
From the beginning of the 1985 season through the time of the trade, Tudor's 2.55 ERA is the lowest in the major leagues. His best season came in 1985, his first with the Cardinals, when he was 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA and a league-best 10 shutouts.
Tudor had no-hitters through six and seven innings, respectively, in consecutive starts against the Dodgers in May. He has a salary of $1.1 million in 1988 and is signed through the end of the 1989 season.
Tudor brings much needed experience to the Dodgers rotation, which is without an injured Fernando Valenzuela, a released Don Sutton and a demoted Shawn Hillegas. Before acquiring Tudor, the Dodgers planned to go, at least temporarily, with a four-man rotation of Orel Hershiser, Tim Leary, Tim Belcher and 20-year-old Ramon Martinez, who made his major league debut on Aug. 13.
"I'm going to miss Pete. He's been around for a long time. I love him," manager Tom Lasorda told The Times. "But we needed an experienced left-handed pitcher."
Tudor will start for the Dodgers Tuesday night against the Phillies.
Both Guerrero and Tudor have spent their share of time in the trainers room and doctors offices in recent years. Guerrero in addition to his neck injury suffered a knee injury during spring training in 1986 that all but wiped out his season and required surgery. Tudor broke his knee in 1987 and had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder before the 1988 season.
"Even though he had his physical problem along the way, (Tudor) was a flat-out big-game pitcher," general manager Fred Claire told Josh Suchon in Miracle Men: Hershiser, Gibson, and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers. "I just felt the time was right to make the trade. I thought it was the right trade for us. I can remember meeting with Pedro that night in Tommy's office. That was not easy. He was a very sad guy, with his long connection to the Dodgers. He wasn't angry as much as he was just sad. The Dodgers were his connection. I'm sure he was stunned."
Guerrero came to the Dodgers in one of the great trades in franchise history in 1974. Then general manager Al Campanis traded 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Bruce Ellingsen to the Indians for an 18-year-old Guerrero, from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Ellingsen was 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 16 games for Cleveland in 1975, including two starts, then never pitched in the majors again.
By 1981 Guerrero was a regular, bouncing around through the years between the outfield, third base and first base. As a defender, he was a great hitter. But oh what a bat he had.
Bill James once called Guerrero "the best hitter God had made in a long time." Guerrero shared World Series MVP honors after hitting .333 with four extra-base hits and seven RBI to beat the Yankees in 1981. Then in both 1982 and 1983 Guerrero reached the plateaus of 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases, the first Dodger to accomplish all three in the same season.
In 1985 Guerrero was at his best, hitting .320/.422/.577 for the NL West-winning Dodgers. Guerrero led the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, and hit 33 home runs, including tying an MLB record with 15 home runs in June. His 1985 NL Most Valuable Player Award currently sits on Willie McGee's mantel.
Guerrero ended his Dodgers career at .309/.381/.512, seventh on the all-time franchise list with 171 home runs. Guerrero at .512 had the second-highest slugging percentage among all Dodgers with 1,000 games.
Tudor helped stabilize the Dodgers' rotation down the stretch, going 4-3 in nine starts with a 2.41 ERA, but was ineffective during the postseason. Tudor allowed four runs in five innings in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Mets, a game the Dodgers eventually won behind home runs by Mike Scioscia and Kirk Gibson and a one-out save in extra innings by Orel Hershiser.
Tudor started Game 3 of the World Series against the Athletics in Oakland but left after just four batters with a sprained MCL in his left elbow, an injury that sidelined him until late June 1989. Tudor only pitched 14⅓ innings for the Dodgers in 1989, then returned to St. Louis for one season in 1990 before retiring.
Guerrero signed a three-year contract with the Cardinals to complete the trade. He enjoyed another All-Star season in 1989, hitting .311/.391/.477 with 17 home runs, 117 runs batted in and a league-leading 42 doubles. Guerrero finished third in NL MVP voting in 1989, the third time he finished third in the award, joining 1982 and 1985.
While the 1988 World Series remains a special moment in Dodgers history, it was completed without the franchise's two biggest stars of the 1980s in Guerrero and Valenzuela, the latter sidelined by a shoulder injury for most of the second half that season. Guerrero and Valenzuela came together again to make Dodgers history on June 29, 1990, when Guerrero grounded into a double play for the final two outs of Valenzuela's no-hitter against St. Louis at Dodger Stadium.