The Expos have been wheeling and dealing like penny stock promoters in the past few weeks, but they feel two of the deals have produced blue-chip performers and a third swap could be a bonus. Starting out with 30 players considered expendable by ten established teams, the Canadian club now owns three men who were protected in the expansion draft and another youngster the Expos were going to draft before he was withdrawn in the first round.
After obtaining Rusty Staub and three minor leaguers for Jesus Alou and two more draftees, the Expos traded unwanted Maury Wills and Manny Mota for two protected players – Ron Fairly and Adolfo Phillips – and unloaded Donn Clendenon for four kids. The Expos still congratulate themselves on the Staub deal, and their second trade began paying off immediately, too. Fairly connected on a two-run pinch-hit home run in his first Expo at-bat on June 11.
Trying everything to force the deal, Wills succeeded with a performance on the field that attracted the Dodgers and antics off the diamond that John McHale and Jim Fanning deemed intolerable. If they had any regrets, it was losing Manny Mota in the bargain. Wills and Mota went to Los Angeles for Fairly and Paul Popovich, a second baseman who was promptly transhipped to Chicago to replace the injured Glenn Beckert. In return, the Expos obtained center fielder Adolfo Phillips and minor league pitcher Jack Lamabe.
Then, 15 hours before the trade deadline, the Expos took the best offer available for Clendenon – No. 1 man on their unwanted list after Wills left. He may have tied or set some kind of record, having been traded away by the same club twice within six months. “I don’t know what Gil Hodges plans to do with me, but I know I can help the Mets,” Clendenon said after he was told he had been swapped for infielder Kevin Collins and three young righthanded pitchers, including highly regarded Steve Renko.
Clendenon would have been gone two months ago, but the day he finished his delayed spring training in Florida was the day Bob Bailey fractured his ankle. That prolonged Clendenon’s term as an Expo, but he was trade material again when Bailey returned. Montreal tried to discuss Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew, Nolan Ryan and then Don Cardwell. By June 15, the Mets wouldn’t even discuss it and the Expos settled for what they could get.
“Renko was always in the deal,” said Fanning, who was impressed with the 24-year-old’s pitching in the International League. “He was withdrawn on the round of the draft when the Padres selected Dick Selma.” To reorganize the roster, Renko was optioned laterally to Vancouver, Collins was added to the major league roster and Leo Marentette was sent back to Vancouver to make room for Dick Radatz. The Monster was purchased from Detroit on June 15.