With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline set for this coming Friday at 4 p.m. EST, teams and fans all across the country are looking at dream moves that would bring in that one special bat or arm that propels their team into the playoffs. As we have learned in recent years, there is no player safe as the deadline approaches and everyone, whether a utility infielder or ace pitcher, is going to be mentioned in trade rumors.
While we sit back and wait to see which players change home addresses by the weekend, let’s look back at some of the most memorable moves at the trade deadlines in the sports’ recent history.
While there have been moves that have helped clubs for multiple years moving forward, there are three deadline deals that paid immediate dividends for their clubs and those are the transactions involving David Roberts, Marco Scutaro and Cecil Fielder. While they were not household names when they were acquired, they grew into legends in their new ballparks.
David Roberts was acquired by the Boston Red Sox from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2004 trade deadline for minor league outfielder Henri Stangley, and although he wasn’t brought in to be an every-day starter, he still managed to pull off the biggest play in franchise history when he stole second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. He later scored to tie the game and the Red Sox went on to not just defeat the Yankees in that game, and the series, in the greatest comeback in sports, but then went on to win the World Series. The Red Sox also traded Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz at the dead line as well, but no move paid off more than the Roberts’ deal. If your wondering how the players they traded fared, Henri Stangley never cracked a major league line-up while Garciaparra played for three different teams over the next 6 seasons, hitting over .300 every year. He never played in the World Series.
Marco Scutaro was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and played the final 46 regular-season games at second base, hitting .362. The Giants won the NL West and went on to win the World Series that season. Scutaro was the NLCS MVP with 14 hits in 28 at-bats. The Giants were his 8th major league franchise and after the season he was awarded a 3-year, $20 million contract. The player he was traded for, infielder Charlie Culberson, was a former first round drat pick but has only had 331 at-bats in the major league and owns a .221 average.
Cecil Fielder was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees in 1996 for Ruben Sierra and Matt Drews. The Yankees had a 10-game divisional lead at the time, but it dropped all the way to 2.5 games in mid-September. Had it not been for Fielder and his 13 homeruns in that span, they may have missed out on the post-season. Instead they won the division and Fielder added another 3 home runs in the post season. The Yankees went on to win their first World Series championship since 1978 that season. Fielder’s career ended quickly after that, but for the club who gave up good talent to get him, it was worth the short time they had him to raise the championship trophy. Sierra made his way to the Yankees later in his career where he won a World Series in 2004. Drews was a career minor league pitcher.
Some trade deadline moves don’t result in a World Series trophy in that season, but have set the clubs up for much success in the years moving forward. The next group of players didn’t get sized for a championship ring the season they were traded, but still improved their clubs tremendously.
With slugger Mark McGwire set to hit free-agency at the end of the 1997 season, the Oakland A’s traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein. In McGwire’s second season in St. Louis he hit 70 home runs to set the all-time MLB record for a season. Ludwick and Stein pitched just one season in Oakland, while Matthews pitched for 5 years and piled up 180 strikeouts in 243 for the A’s.
In 1998 the Seattle Mariners traded ace Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros for second baseman Carlos Guillen and pitchers Freddy Garcia and John Halama. The 35-year went 10-1 in 11 starts, while compiling a 1.23 ERA, and the Astros moved on to the NLDS, where they ultimately lost to the San Diego Padres. “The Big Unit” pitched 14 innings that post season and allowed just 3 earned runs while striking out 17 batters. While this move paid off in the immediate future for the Astros, the Mariners got quite a nice return. Three years after the deal was made and the young prospects were ready, Garcia and Halama combined for 28 wins and Guillen started all season at shortstop for the 116-win Mariners.
In 2009, Cliff Lee was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catcher Lou Marson, infielder Jason Donald, and pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp. That post-season he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA and 33 strikeouts. The club lost in 6 games of the American League Championship to the New York Yankees. Lee signed with Seattle in the off-season and has pitched for three teams since this trade, including his return to Philadelphia in 2011 where has been since. The players he was traded for at the deadline fared well in the big leagues after the move. Carlos Carrasco is in his 6th year with the Indians and has 437 strikeouts in 74 starts. Jason Donald played three years in Cleveland, hitting 7 home runs in 170 games.
In 2000 the Philadelphia Phillies traded ace Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks for first baseman Travis Lee and pitchers Omar Deal, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla. That season the Diamondbacks didn’t make the playoffs, but the following year the club won the World Series as Schilling went 22-6. He spent four seasons in Arizona compiling a record of 58-28. Travis Lee played three seasons in Philadelphia, hitting .258 with 34 homeruns. Vincent Padilla pitched to an even 49-49 record in six years with the club.
In 2010 the Philadelphia Phillies needed an arm to propel their rotation to the post-season so they sent J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar to the Houston Astros for stud pitcher Roy Oswalt. He went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA the rest of the season and helped the Phillies secure their fourth straight NL East title. The following season was rough as Oswalt battled injuries in a 9-10 season that saw his ERA balloon up over two runs per game. He moved on the Texas Rangers the following season. Happ pitched for Houston for three seasons, compiling an 18-28 record while Villar has since played in 183 games for the Astros.
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