Even if he never makes it to the major leagues, Mike Cisco has earned a place in baseball history. He’s the player who was traded for nothing.
Cisco, a standout pitcher at Wando High School and South Carolina, was traded Sunday by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Angels for what was reported as “no compensation.”
No money. No considerations. No player to be named later. Nothing.
A “no-compensation” trade is unusual, but not unprecedented in baseball. At the end of his career, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was traded by the Twins to the Indians for nothing. And of course, pitcher Dickie Noles famously was traded for himself as his own “player to be named later.”
Cisco’s trade has drawn some attention, with many wondering why the Phillies would give up a 25-year-old prospect with a 2.93 earned run average in five minor-league seasons.
“I don’t really know what that is all about,” Cisco said this week from his new spring training home in Tempe, Ariz. “I’ve heard some things about that. But whatever it was for, or even if it was for nothing at all, the Angels expressed interest in having me on their team.
“And if they didn’t have to give anything up to get me, that’s better for the team.”
Phillies brass has not spoken about the Cisco trade, but it’s not hard to figure out why they did it. Cisco, a 5-11, 190-pound right-hander who was a 36th-round draft pick in 2008, has pitched extremely well in five seasons in the Phillies’ system, going 29-22 with that 2.93 ERA.
At Class AAA Lehigh Valley last year, he was 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA and a save in 17 games. In 2011 in Class AA, Cisco put together an 8-0 record with a 1.59 ERA and three saves in 29 games — all without a sniff at the majors.
He was stymied in the Philadelphia system, and the trade was a way to give a popular young player, the grandson of former MLB pitcher and Phillies pitching coach Galen Cisco, a chance with a new club.
“It could be considered a favor to a well-liked guy, putting him in a system where the line to the bigs is shorter,” said Jay Floyd, who writes for PhilliesNation.com.
Cisco admits he had become frustrated. “I kind of felt like, what more do I have to prove?” he said. “After the numbers I put up in AAA and AA, I had some questions about everything.”
The trade can also be considered a favor to the Angels, who might owe one in return.
“You try to get compensation,” former Indians general manager John Hart told Bloomberg Businessweek. “But if you can’t, there generally becomes good will between the clubs. So if you’re caught somewhere during the middle of the season — you’ve had some injuries and need some middle infielders — you might get some help.”
Whatever the circumstances, Cisco is happy to be with the Angels. Pulled off the Phillies’ spring training field and informed of the trade Sunday, he flew to Tempe that night and pitched an inning in an Angels’ game on Monday.
“I’m excited to be with a new team,” he said. “When you get traded, it means somebody likes what you’ve been doing. I feel like I can contribute to them, and it’s nice to know they think the same thing.”