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Today in White Sox History: December 3

Two of the worst transactions of the 21st Century

Adam Dunn White Sox Press Conference
Monumental free agent disappointment Adam Dunn might have had better luck playing for the White Sox in his suit.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images


The White Sox claimed first baseman Greg Walker from the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft. Walker made the big club for good in 1983 and had three seasons with at least 24 home runs and two years with at least 90 RBIs. He became the Sox hitting coach after retiring.


It was a deal that didn’t work too well for the White Sox, as GM Ken Williams traded closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, Joe Valentine and cash to the A’s for closer Billy Koch and two players to be named later. (On December 16, the trade was completed when Oakland sent reliever Neal Cotts and right fielder Daylan Holt to Chicago.)

Koch never found the success he had in either Toronto or Oakland, in part because of a rare illness. Cotts, at least, would have a spectacular season in 2005 helping the Sox win the World Series.

Foulke meanwhile, saved 44 games in 2003 and made the All-Star team. Williams may have had his hands tied by the fact that manager Jerry Manuel had lost confidence in Foulke and refused to pitch him in key situations in the back half of the 2002 season.


It was a day of optimism for the “All-In” 2011 White Sox, as the club inked Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million deal and re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Dunn was long coveted by club GM Ken Williams, to the degree that a trade deadline deal during the 2010 season for pitcher Edwin Jackson was struck specifically to lure Dunn in trade for the stretch run. However, Dunn turned out to be the biggest free-agent bust in club history, compiling just -0.4 WAR in his near-four years on the South Side. His 2011 season alone was jaw-droppingly historic, as only seven players in MLB history have had at least Dunn’s 496 plate appearances and recorded a lower WAR than the Big Donkey’s -2.9. And no other primary DH has ever done worse.

Pierzysnki’s re-signing mitigated the damage done by Dunn’s, as the rascal catcher had a mediocre 2011 but bounced back with 3.3 WAR in his final White Sox campaign of 2012 — at age 35, the second-best season of the backstop’s career. Interestingly, A.J. was literally seconds from picking up the phone and calling the Dodgers to confirm terms of his signing when Williams buzzed in to meet his salary demands.

To make some room for Dunn and Pierzynski in the payroll, the White Sox salary-dumped disappointing reliever Scott Linebrink to Atlanta, getting out from under the final $5.5 million of his contract.