Revisiting the Red Sox-Mariners Trade That Sent Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe to Boston

When the Red Sox acquired Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, what followed was a historic run of success.
When the Red Sox acquired Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, what followed was a historic run of success. / Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

You look at the Seattle Mariners and wonder why they haven't been in the playoffs since 2001. But then, once you research their transaction history, it becomes fully clear that they've done themselves no favors over the last 20-plus years.

Back in 1997, the Mariners were in desperate need of a quality bullpen arm. Ahead of the trade deadline, they called the Boston Red Sox about relievr Heathcliff Slocumb, and opted to proceed in negotiations. In exchange for Slocumb, the M's sent... why, yes, catcher Jason Varitek and starter Derek Lowe!

The rest is history.

Slocumb wasn't doing particularly well before the trade, as he carried a 0-5 record and a bloated 5.79 ERA out of the bullpen. To make matters worse, he allowed 95 baserunners in 46.2 innings. Yikes. Even so, Seattle went through with the swap, and it turned into one of the worst trades in recent baseball memory.

The new Mariners reliever lasted just two seasons in Seattle, and he didn't exactly light it up in the way the organization intended. In that span, Slocumb posted a 2-9 record, 4.97 ERA, and 1.635 WHIP.

But what about the Red Sox? Well, Lowe was strong during his time in Boston, where he threw a no-hitter in 2002 after posting the most saves in the American League in 2000. As for Varitek, he would spend his entire MLB career with the Red Sox, where he was a three-time All-Star, Gold Glove award winner (2005), and Silver Slugger award winner (2005).

More importantly, the addition of these two young players at the time netted the Red Sox two World Series championships, first in 2004 and again in '07. That's a pretty good indicator of who won the trade.

The Mariners committed a cardinal sin: Never trade for a need when the market isn't the greatest. They reached for Slocumb, and it hurt them big time. Oh, what could've been if they had just kept Varitek and Lowe.