In the 1997 Major League Baseball expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona DiamondBacks.
On the day of the 1997 expansion draft Lee Thomas (General Manager of the Phillies) bullied the newly minted Tampa GM. Somehow, Thomas convinced the DRays to draft an under-valued Astros outfielder named Bobby Abreu and trade him for Phils shortstop Kevin Stocker. Not sure exactly what the DRays were thinking, but the draft trade happened.
Stocker went on to play three unproductive seasons and Bobby Abreu blossomed into an All-Star.
His first season with the Phillies (1998), Abreu played 151 games and led the team with a .312 batting average & a .409 on base percentage. He collected 17 home runs, 74 RBI, and had 19 stolen bases. He also delivered 17 assists in right field. The next season (1999), his .335 was the highest batting average posted by a Phillies player since outfielder Tony González hit .339 in 1967. He spent the next 5 seasons getting on base, putting up great offensive numbers and helping the franchise emerge from the ashes of Joe Carter's 1993 World Series bomb.
He made the NL All Star team in 2004 as "Final Vote" winner. was honored as a starter in 2005, finishing second in total votes. Before the 2005 All Star game, Abreu participated and won the Home Run Derby as he set records with 24 home runs in a single round (since broken by Josh Hamilton in 2008), and 41 overall. His longest homer that night was measured at 517', the third longest in Derby history. After his power numbers dipped considerably for the remainder of the 2005 season into 2006 there was considerable speculation that winning the Derby may have had a psychological impact on Abreu.
I was not pleased when nine years of steady Abreu production was unceremoniously dumped at the 2006 trade deadline. Projecting the team was out of the pennant race, Bobby was traded (with the late Cory Lidle) to the Yankees in exchange for 4 minor leaguers. Each prospect failed to make an impact on the club. Basically the Phils gave the Yankees an all-star outfielder in exchange for them paying his salary.
In a surprising case of addition by subtraction, the Phils improved after the trade. Dramatically. They made a run for the 2006 National League wild card spot, but were eliminated on the second to last day of the season. The club has made the post season each season since Bobby Abreu left.