LA Angels history: The Bobby Bonds trades

American League v National League
American League v National League / Ronald C. Modra/GettyImages

The LA Angels have made a lot of trades in their franchise history.

Some good, some bad, and some downright perplexing. 

One of the great things about writing for Halo Hangout is that I can vent about some things that the club has done and some things they do. LA Angels history is filled with them. 

One trade from years ago that still rubs me the wrong way was when the Angels traded for and then traded away Bobby Bonds. 

Bobby Bonds was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and played there for seven seasons. He was a star right fielder and put up all-star caliber numbers. Bonds struck out a lot but not as much as today’s standards. 

He could hit and hit for power. Bonds could run like the wind and adeptly field his position. In seven seasons he had 186 home runs and an OPS+ of 131. Not bad, right?

But the Giants traded Bonds to the Yankees for Bobby Murcer where Bonds hit 32 home runs and stole 30 bases with a slash line of .270/.375/.512. 

Something happened in New York because after that one season the Yankees shipped Bonds to the LA Angels for starting pitcher Ed Figueroa and speedy center fielder Mickey Rivers. 

Bonds was hurt most of 1976 and Figueroa and Mick the Quick went on to spark the Yankees to an American League championship. They also figured heavily in two Yankees World Series wins in 1977 and 1978.

Bonds had a solid year for the LA Angels in 1977. He played a stellar center field. Bonds hit 37 home runs and stole 41 bases, with a slash line of .264/.342/.520. 

The lineup in those years was stacked. Almost as much as the LA Angels potentially have today with the legendary Mike Trout and AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, not to mention Anthony Rendon.

The lineup that year boasted Bonds, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi. The starting pitchers had Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana and Richard Dotson. They had Dave LaRoche as the stopper in the bullpen. 

If they could stay healthy, the 1978 LA Angels could stand up against any team in the league. 

Then on December 5th, 1977 they shocked and startled me by trading Bonds to the White Sox with outfielder Thad Bosley and starter Richard Dotson, for starter Chris Knapp, starter Dave Frost and catcher Brian Downing. 

Who? Why would they send a star like Bonds for what at the time consisted of players you wouldn’t know unless you collected baseball cards, which I did and I still didn’t know who they were. 

Dotson turned out to be a durable starter, pitching 1,677.1 innings over the next decade and Bosley also played for 13 more years. 

Knapp and Frost had one good year apiece and Downing turned into an LA Angels legend.

Next. Projecting our Opening Day starting rotation during lockout. dark

Bonds went on to be traded over and over, getting traded four more times before retiring. He is one of the best players not in the hall of fame. I just wished he could’ve stayed with the LA Angels longer.