When a trade happens, it’s difficult to assess who will initially have the better end of the deal. For example, a player who may be down for one team may reignite his bat with another, and on the flipside, a great player may struggle in a new environment. The KC Royals have found themselves at both ends of the trade spectrum.
While some trades have fared better than others, one team the Royals have had trade success with is the Cincinnati Reds. The clubs’ trade history includes four great trades that brought Kansas City a couple of team Hall of Famers and some World Series winners.
The KC Royals acquired pitcher Charlie Leibrandt in a steal from Cincinnati.
Charlie Leibrandt was drafted by the Reds in the ninth round of the 1978 draft and went 10-9 with a 4.45 ERA in his first full Cincinnati season. But after going a combined 16-17 with a 4.42 ERA in four years, the team’s faith in him waned and they traded him to the Royals for Bob Tufts in June 1983.
Tufts never made a major league appearance again, but Leibrandt made waves in Kansas City.
In 1984, he notched an 11-7 record with a 3.63 ERA and 1985 was Leibrandt’s best season when finished fifth in American League Cy Young voting and was 17-9 with a 2.69 ERA.
While Leibrandt was great in the regular season, he seemed snake-bitten in the postseason, losing to Detroit, 1-0, after pitching eight excellent innings in the elimination game of the 1984 ALCS. Then, in the 1985 ALCS, Leibrandt lost Games 1 and 4 to Toronto. In Game 2 of that year’s World Series, he tossed a two-hit shutout through 8.1 innings only for it to give up two runs in the ninth and lose 4-2 to St. Louis.
But all his postseason luck wasn’t bad. Leibrandt relieved Bret Saberhagen in Game 7 of the ’85 ALCS and allowed just two runs and struck out five in 5.1 innings to help propel the Royals to a 6-2 victory and into the World Series. And his one-run pitching in 7.2 innings in Game 6 of the Series helped keep the Royals in the game and eventually to an historic comeback to extend the Series one more game.
Overall, Leibrandt went 76-61, 3.60 and had five double-digit seasons in six years with the Royals.