In early July 1997, rumors swirled that the New York Yankees were going to swing a deal with the San Diego Padres.

The Yankees would send much-maligned left-hander Kenny Rogers, along with second baseman Mariano Duncan to the Padres in exchange for outfielder Greg Vaughn and a minor league pitcher.

Rogers’s claim to fame was that he had pitched a perfect game in 1994 for the Texas Rangers and that he was knocked out of the box by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth game of the 1996 World Series. That was the game that Jim Leyritz tied with a dramatic home run, which turned the Series around.

In 1997, the Yankees sent the ineffective Rogers (4-4, 5.90 ERA) to the bullpen in an effort to minimize the damage he might cause.

Duncan had batted .340 in 1996, but he walked a mere nine times in 417 plate appearances. Shades of Alfonso Soriano.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was displeased with Duncan’s play in 1997 and ordered him benched. Duncan reacted by saying that he wanted to be traded.

Vaughn had lost his outfield position to Rickey Henderson. He was batting .221 with 10 home runs, 24 RBIs and 56 strikeouts.

The Padres had acquired Vaughn from the Milwaukee Brewers at the trading deadline in 1996, but he batted only .206 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs for San Diego.

George Steinbrenner attempted to make Rogers, who had just worked four shut out innings against the Atlanta Braves in relief of an injured Andy Pettitte, more attractive as trade bait.

“I saw a different Kenny Rogers than I’ve seen before,” Steinbrenner said. “If he can do that, he’s going to be very valuable to this team—and not just as the flag-waver in the parade.”

Rogers waved the flag down the Canyon of Heroes after the Yankees won the 1996 World Series.

The trade never happened, although Mr. Steinbrenner did send Rogers and Duncan away.

Just before the trading deadline, on July 29, the Yankees sent Duncan to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor leaguer Angel Ramirez.

After spending all of 1997 with the Yankees (6-7, 5.65 ERA), Rogers was traded to the Oakland A’s for a player to be named later. Much to their regret and the Yankees delight, Oakland sent Scott Brosius to the Yankees. The rest is history.

Vaughn remained with the Padres and in 1998, hit 50 home runs and drove in 119 to help the Padres win the pennant.

Read more MLB news on