Washington Nationals Pre-History: Revisiting the Pedro Martinez Trade

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While the Washington Nationals have only been playing baseball for a decade, Major League Baseball still includes the Montreal Expos records as part of their history. With that being the case, Montreal gets one of their own inducted into Cooperstown when starting pitcher Pedro Martinez joins Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio as new members of the Hall Of Fame this Sunday.

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to Montreal in 1993 for Delino DeShields, Martinez pitched four seasons north of the Border. From ’93-’97, Martinez was 55-33 with a 3.06 ERA in 118 games. He is tied with Dennis Martinez for the fourth lowest ERA in Expos/Nationals history. Plus, he leads all pitchers in franchise history in WHIP (1.09). He went to two All-Star Games and was the NL Cy Young winner in 1997, beating out Hall Of Famer Greg Maddux.

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This leads us to November of 1997. Despite Pedro going 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA during the ’97 season, the Expos finished 78-84, 23 games back of the NL East Champion Atlanta Braves. Martinez was going to be a free agent at the end of the 1998 season, so the Expos decided to trade him to get some pieces back for the future.

On November 18, the Expos sent Martinez to the Boston Red in exchange for pitching prospects Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano. Martinez would end up signing a six-year, $75 million contract with Boston.  Armas Jr. was in the Red Sox organization for one season, pitching for high-A Sarasota. He made three starts and went 2-1 with a 6.62 ERA. He would make his Major League debut with the Montreal Expos in 1999.

One of the interesting facts about Armas Jr. is that he played with both the Expos and Nationals. He signed with the Nats in January of 2006. However, he went 48-60 in eight seasons with both clubs and had a 4.45 ERA. His best season was in 2002, when he went 12-12 with a 4.44 ERA in 29 starts.

At the time, the Expos thought they were getting a great pitcher of the future in Carl Pavano. According to Baseball America, Pavano was the number two prospect in Boston’s system at the time. The only prospect that was ahead of him was a shortstop by the name of Nomar Garciaparra.

One of Pavano’s best seasons in the minors came in 1996 when he was pitching for double-A Trenton. He went 16-5 that season with a 2.63 ERA. He won 11 games at triple-A Pawtucket in ’97 before being traded. However, the right-hander did not have a great career in Canada. He went 24-35 in five seasons with a 4.83 ERA and he never won more than eight games in any given season from 1998-2002.

During the 2002 season, the Expos traded Pavano within the division as they sent him to the Florida Marlins. Pavano went to Florida along with reliever Graeme Lloyd, infielder Mike Mordecai, reliever Justin Wayne, and minor league pitcher Don Levinski in exchange for outfielder Cliff Floyd, utility player Wilton Guerrero, starter Claudio Vargas, and cash.

In the end, Pedro Martinez went on to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000 and was part of a team that broke the Curse of the Bambino when Boston won the World Series in 2004. You never know what Martinez might have become if he stayed in Montreal, but it’s a good time to look back as the man who wore both number 37 and 45 with the Expos is about to get his plaque in Cooperstown.

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