On December 6, 1996 — The Seattle Mariners acquire righty Scott Sanders‚ (9-5‚ 3.38 ERA) from the Padres for lefty Sterling Hitchcock. Hitchcock was the ace of the Mariner staff after Randy Johnson went down with back surgery. He finished with a 13-9 record‚ but had a 5.35 ERA.
The Padres were looking for left-handed starting pitchers to start the 1996 season. They and the Seattle Mariners came to an agreement on a deal that would send Scott Sanders to the Mariners for lefty Sterling Hitchcock. Little did Padres fans know, but this acquisition would be huge for the Padres in a couple of years as the team went for a World Series title. Ironically, the team re-acquired Scott Sanders in May of 1998, and he, too, was an essential part of the World Series run that year. Talk about a great deal for Kevin Towers.
Hitchcock had a career record of 34-42 with a 4.47 ERA as a Padres pitcher. He won the 1998 NLCS MVP award when he was dominating in the series against the Atlanta Braves that propelled the Padres into the World Series. For a stretch in late 1998 and early 1999, Hitchcock was flat dominating. He regressed due to injuries and never really had the same success as he did in that 1998 Padres postseason run. Still, the trade was a great one for the Padres simply because of the production they got from the lefty.
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