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Dodgers, in need of catching, see December trade fall through: A history

I was told there would be no math in this Jim Sundberg trade.
I was told there would be no math in this Jim Sundberg trade.
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As we wait for the Matt Kemp trade with the Padres - and its sidecar transaction, Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies - to become official, here is a look back at a December Dodgers trade that ended up not coming to fruition.

First, the Kemp trade, with has a Thursday deadline to become official. As of Wednesday evening, the deal hasn't been finalized, which is slightly concerning though both sides it seems expect the trade to be completed.

But 32 years ago, the Dodgers were in similar need of catching help. In 1982, Dodgers catchers hit .230/.301/.308, ranking last in the National League in OPS+ (71), 11th in on-base percentage and batting average, 10th in OPS,  slugging percentage and home runs (seven).

Mike Scioscia hit .219/.302/.296 in his second season as a starter, and the 23-year-old was called "a 1982 disappointment" by Joe Goddard of the Chicago Sun-Times, who reported the Dodgers nearly had a deal at the winter meetings in Hawaii sending Scioscia and Burt Hooton, plus a few others, to the Rangers for catcher Jim Sundberg, but the deal fell through.

But the Dodgers were hot for Sundberg, who hit .251/.322/.383, a 99 OPS+, with 10 home runs in 1982. The 31-year-old had eight years remaining on his contract, was a two-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner. On Dec. 10, 1982, the Dodgers agreed to acquire Sundberg from the Rangers for Hooton, outfielder Mark Bradley, pitcher Dave Stewart and minor league pitcher Orel Hershiser.

More from the Associated Press:

Dodgers general manager Al Campanis and his Texas counterpart, Joe Klein, shook hands on the deal.

But it fell through because Sundberg wanted his eight-year contract condensed to four, and insisted on retaining a no-trade clause.

"That's unacceptable to us," said Campanis.

One day later, the AP explained a bizarre rule at the time, still in the relative infancy of free agency, that was relevant to the deal:

The Dodgers could have assumed his eight-year contract the way it was, but under baseball's basic agreement, the catcher would only have been required to play one year for the Dodgers if they didn't negotiate their own contract.

No deal.

Hershiser made his major league debut in 1983, and donned a cape during the 1988 season.

Scioscia was hurt in 1983, but was a rock behind the plate, a starter for nine more full seasons for the Dodgers, through 1992, with a 102 OPS+ from 1983-1992.

The Dodgers did ultimately send Stewart to Texas, but not until August 1983, receiving left-hander Rick Honeycutt in return.

Sundberg hit .201/.272/.254, a 48 OPS+ in 1983, and had a 78 OPS+ from 1983-1989.


Note: after researching and writing this, I noticed that Dodgers historian Mark Langill recalled the failed trade himself earlier this month. Give it a read, too.