Picture this, it’s 1988 and you’re sitting at the coffee table. You pick up the Seattle Times Paper flip to the Sports Section and see that Mark Langston and Mike Campbell to the Expos for Randy Johnson, Brian Holman, and Gene Harris. Now you sit there and say, hey we just traded our ace pitcher for a guy who so far this season had pitched a 6.6 ERA for a guy who’s ERA is half that!
Many Mariner fans undoubtedly thought “here we go again, the team just traded their best player.” But what really laid beneath is we practically gave birth to the “Big Unit”. Randy Johnson was a guy who really couldn’t throw strikes. A hard throwing lefty came in fresh and young off a 0-4 start in Montreal. He ended the season with a 3.5 ERA as there former ace with the Expos, 2.3 ERA. This already looked like a dud trade, even when Langston departed from the Expos to the Angels. But then something happened.
But while Johnson had a unique look, his first 3 full-seasons in Seattle left many skeptical about his long-term success. From 1990-1992, Johnson led the league in walks all 3 seasons while also leading the league in hit batsmen in ’92. But after that, he led the AL in SO’s and being Top 3 in Cy Young for 3 seasons in a row.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the Mariners and their ace was fracturing and bad blood was beginning to boil from under the surface. The two sides were unable to find common ground and on July 31, 1998, Seattle trade the best pitcher in franchise history to the Astros for a trio of prospects who would become key contributors in the best 4-year stretch in franchise history.
But in the 10 season tenor, it was key to trade Langston, because in the 95 season, the season was saved, led by Griffey, Martinez, and of course Johnson. Forever being a Seattle Mariner.
-idea from sodomojo