Tris Speaker was one of the biggest stars in the first decade of the American League. On this day in 1916, the Red Sox sent Speaker to the Cleveland Indians in a deal that worked out well for the Tribe.
Imagine, if you will, a player who produces a .322 batting average and finishes in the top ten in batting average, doubles, runs, hits, on base percentage, slugging, and RBI. Then, imagine the outrage that player would feel if he was asked to take a pay cut, because his team felt he did not perform. it would be a fairly outrageous statement to make.
That is the situation that Tris Speaker found himself in following the 1915 season. Although his .322/.416/.411 batting line was below his normal production, it was still one of the better performances in the American League. Understandably, Speaker refused to sign the new contract, resulting in a contentious relationship with the Red Sox.
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Facing that stalemate, the Red Sox had no other choice than to trade Speaker. That move happened on this day in 1916, as he was sent to the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, the Red Sox received Sad Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and the princely sum of $55,000 in cash. It was quite the haul for one of the top players in the game.
In Cleveland, and with a contract that paid him what he felt he was worth, Speaker took his vengeance on the AL. He led the league with a .386/.470/.502 batting line, while notching 211 hits and 41 doubles. Had the MVP been awarded that season, Speaker would have easily taken home the honors.
Meanwhile, the trade worked out fairly well for the Red Sox. Jones was a key part of the Red Sox 1918 World Series championship team, leading the AL with a .762 winning percentage. Speaker, for his part, earned a championship in Cleveland, as the Indians won the title in 1920 as a player/manager. That year, he had a .388/.483/.562 batting line, to go along with a league leading 50 doubles.
These days, it is rare for a true superstar, especially one about to approach his prime, to be traded. On this day in 1916, while embroiled in a contract dispute, the Red Sox sent superstar Tris Speaker to the Cleveland Indians.