In today’s Fed City Flashback, we take a look back in the history of the Montreal Expos to 1987. On this date in ’87, the Expos traded reliever Jeff Reardon and catcher Tom Nieto to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league pitcher Alfredo Cardwood, catcher Jeff Reed, and pitchers Neal Heaton and Yorkis Perez.
Montreal was the first team to draft Reardon when they took him in the 23rd round of the 1973 MLB Draft. However, the team was not able to sign him. Four years later, he would be signed as an amateur free agent by another NL East team, the New York Mets. He would end up playing 2.5 seasons in Queens before Montreal found a way to get the reliever back on their team.
In May 1981, Montreal traded away right fielder Ellis Valentine to the Mets in exchange for Reardon and outfielder Dan Norman. Norman would only play 53 games for the Expos in 1982, hitting .212 with two home runs and seven RBI’s. Plus, Norman is better known for being part of the deal that sent Mets’ ace Tom Seaver to the Reds in 1974.
As for Reardon, he became one of the better relievers for Montreal over his six years in Canada. He had a 1.30 ERA in 25 games during the ’81 season. Now, he did appear in four postseason games for the Expos, but one of those games was a loss in Game 4 of the NLDS to the Phillies (Expos would win the series in five games).
The righty appeared in 75 games during the ’82 season, going 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA. His 26 saves were tied for seventh in all of baseball, but he did blow eight saves that year and Montreal would finish third in the division with a 86-76 record. That being said, the 109 innings by Reardon in that season were the second most he threw in a single year (110.1 innings with the Mets in 1980).
After losing nine games in 1983, Reardon had the first of his two All-Star appearances in 1984. During that ‘84 season, he went 3-2 with a 2.18 ERA and recorded 12 saves in the first half of the year. However, the second half saw his ERA rise to 3.67 in 32 appearances (21 in the 1st half). Despite the rough second half, he still only missed on three of his save opportunities and was sixth in the National League in saves with 26.
In 1985, the pitcher from Pittsfield, Massachusetts led all of Major League baseball with 41 saves despite blowing nine saves. After making another All-Star team, Reardon struggled in the second half, going 0-5 in 28 games and giving up 19 earned runs in his final 31 appearances.
While Reardon was a pitcher who would blow his fair share of save chances (13 in 1986), he still racked up the save totals. In his final year with the Expos, his 35 saves were third in the majors and one behind the Cardinals’ Todd Worrell for the National League lead.
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Once Reardon was sent to the Twins, he made an instant impact for a team that would go on to win the World Series that season. His 31 saves in ’87 were second in the American League behind the Blue Jays’ Tom Henke (34). He appeared in four games of that World Series vs. the Cardinals, including getting the save in the decisive Game 7.
Even without Reardon, Montreal would go 91-71 in that 1987 season and had two relievers (Tim Burke and Andy McGaffigan) who recorded double digit saves. Plus, Neal Heaton threw 193.1 innings and went 13-10 for the team that season. Unfortunately, Montreal lost the division to the Cardinals by four games.
After three years with the Twins, Reardon pitched for the Red Sox, Braves, Reds, and Yankees before retiring after the 1994 season.
As for the other pieces in the Reardon trade besides Heaton, Alfredo Cardwood would never get any higher than High-A in the Expos’ system. Jeff Reed played two seasons with the Expos, hitting .215 with one home run and 30 RBI’s. Finally, Yorkis Perez would not appear in the Major Leagues for the Expos, but spent time in their farm system from 1987-1990 and then was back with the Montreal farm system in 1993.