March 31, 1987: Twins Acquire Gladden, Release Hatcher

The Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher and acquire the much more dynamic Dan Gladden from San Francisco in exchange for two prospects and a player to be named later, who turned out to be 1982 Bemidji grad and Golden Gophers all-time great Bryan Hickerson.

Hatcher was still owed $650,000 for 1987, and had a $100,000 buyout clause for 1988. It was the most expensive contract the Twins had eaten to date, but it would prove to be a prudent business decision, as Gladden would be a key contributor to the only two World Series championship teams in Twins history.

A major appeal of Gladden was his game-changing speed. A newspaper headline the morning after the trade read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases. He’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981, and peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one-dimensional player. “He just didn’t fit in,” Tom Kelly said; “there’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.”

The Gladden trade was the third significant move of the 1987 offseason. In February the Twins had acquired Jeff Reardon and Al Newman in separate trades with Montreal. They would trade for Joe Niekro on June 6, Dan Schatzeder on June 23, Steve Carlton on July 31, and Don Baylor on September 1.

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