We often note the players who are on the trading block as the deadline approaches. There are not only major deals that get done at the trade deadline, but ones involving stars that we never saw coming.
These blockbuster deals are often meant to get a contender over the hump, or on the other side, it's meant for a struggling team to gain a couple top prospects in an effort to rebuild.
Sometimes the trades are win-win, and other times they just work out horrendously. Here are the past 25 big deadline deals and how they look in hindsight.
Even as a Cleveland fan, this trade took me by complete surprise. I never saw it coming. The Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez by sending top prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies, among others.
White has struggled in Colorado this year, and while Pomeranz has fared better, the results have not been immediate. Both are young, though, and weren't meant to already be All-Stars.
Jimenez, meanwhile, has been streaky for Cleveland. Sometimes he throws a gem and other times he stinks. It's too early to tell, but right now this is starting to look like a lose-lose trade.
Grade: Indians and Rockies both get a D+; bad so far but has the potential to improve.
Aside from the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, the one that got the most immediate buzz was not the Hunter Pence trade, but instead the other move the Houston Astros made with center fielder Michael Bourn. He was sent to the Atlanta Braves for Juan Abreu, Jordan Schafer and two others.
The two others are struggling at Triple-A, as is Abreu, but Schafer is appearing just decent enough to be the everyday center-field replacement for Bourn. Ideally one or two of the other prospects will become solid starters, or else this trade is a bust unless Schafer vastly improves.
Bourn, meanwhile, has been everything the Braves were hoping for. He's hitting .300, providing Gold Glove defense and there's little doubt in my mind that he'll make the All-Star team. As long as the Braves make the playoffs, it was a great move.
Grade: A for the Braves, D for the Astros, though they could easily even out in five years.
The acquisition of Hunter Pence by the Philadelphia Phillies made the NL East race that much more entertaining, especially with the Braves acquiring Michael Bourn. The Phillies got Pence from the Houston Astros for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and two others.
The prospects the Astros got for Pence look to be much better; Singleton is a top prospect and playing well in Double-A, while Cosart is performing well there as well. Since they won't make their debuts until likely mid-2013, it's too early to grade them.
The Phillies, on the other hand, got what they wanted, as Pence was amazing in 2011 down the stretch. He's performing well offensively this year, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.
Grade: B for Phillies, Incomplete for Astros (B if I have to give a grade, since the two look good in the minors so far.)
The Cliff Lee trade to the Texas Rangers was the big move of 2010, but as it happened a few weeks before the deadline, it's not on the list. Instead, we have the other big pitching move which sent Dan Haren to the Angels. In return, the Diamondbacks got Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and Tyler Skaggs.
Haren was great in 2010 and 2011 for the Angels, and he finished seventh in Cy Young voting last year. This year he's been struggling, but he hasn't been that bad.
Rodriguez played two total games, and Corbin made his debut this year, though he has struggled in his first five games. The big targets were the others; Saunders has been consistently good and could be a prime trade chip, while Skaggs is lighting it up at Double-A at 20 and could be the best player of the group.
Grade: B for Angels, A for Diamondbacks
I'm only on the fifth trade and it's involved the Astros three times. Says a lot about the players they ship out. In 2010, the Astros traded Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar and J.A. Happ.
Oswalt was lights out in 2010, but something seemed off in 2011, and even though he pitched fairly well, it wasn't the 2010 performance by a long shot.
For the Astros, Villar is playing decently in Double-A, but Happ is not impressing me at all. He was supposed to be the big pickup and he hasn't come close to his 2009 success. The Astros immediately traded Gose for Brett Wallace, who has been decent but nothing special.
Grade: Phillies B+, Astros D
I could have made it four of the first six involving the Astros by adding in Lance Berkman, but the Edwin Jackson trade has become bigger in hindsight then it was at the time. The Chicago White Sox picked up Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg.
Jackson went from unimpressive in Arizona to great in Chicago in 2010 and 2011, and they got some good pieces in a deadline deal of their own the following year. Hudson did nothing in Chicago but was great in 2011, though he has struggled this year.
Grade: A for both
When a trade deadline move turns into a long-term deal, it makes an already great move even better. The Oakland Athletics traded Matt Holliday for Shane Peterson, Clayton Mortensen and Brett Wallace.
Holliday hit .353 for the Cardinals after the deadline, and has been a great force on the team ever since. Peterson has been okay in the minors, Wallace is now with Houston and Mortensen pitched in seven games for Oakland. In hindsight, extremely one-sided.
Grade: A+ for Cardinals, F for Athletics
Perhaps the biggest deadline deal involving Cliff Lee was after his tenure with the Cleveland Indians, when he was shipped to the Philadelphia Phillies with Ben Francisco for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.
Lee was dominant for the Phillies both in 2009 and after re-signing with them in 2011. Knapp seems already done and Carlos Carrasco is out for 2012, though he could be decent. Donald is a backup infielder and Marson a backup catcher, so no strong players there.
Grade: A for Philadelphia, D for Cleveland
While not as big as the Cliff Lee trade, the Victor Martinez one worked out for both sides. The Indians sent Martinez to the Red Sox for Bryan Price, Nick Hagadone and Justin Masterson.
Martinez performed great in Boston for two years, and he was an All-Star in 2010. Price is hanging in Double-A and Hagadone's been struggling as a reliever so far. But after a slow start and occasional inconsistency, Masterson has been looking like the future ace that the Indians were hoping for.
Grade: A for Boston, B+ for Cleveland
Of all the 2009 deadline deals, the one that seemed to come the most out of nowhere is the Jake Peavy trade. The White Sox acquired Peavy from the Padres for Dexter Carter, Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard and Adam Russell.
Peavy battles health issues and wasn't that great when healthy. He's finally become the ace Chicago hoped for this year, though. Richard has been a decent starter, but the other three have already fallen off.
Grade: C+ for Chicago (B if Peavy finishes the season like he started), C- for San Diego
Back in 2008, Manny Ramirez was still a force in MLB, but it was clear his time with the Red Sox was up. As a result, he was sent to the Dodgers in a three-team trade.
The Dodgers got Man-Ram, who was amazing, hitting nearly .400. His production fell off big time after that, though, and they cast him off in 2010. The Red Sox got Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he had a career year in 2009 with them.
The Pirates received, Bryan Morris, Andy LaRoche, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss. Morris could make his debut soon, and while LaRoche had a bit of promise, the other three are since gone.
Grade: B For Dodgers, A for Red Sox, F for Pirates
In 2008, the Cincinnati Reds were going nowhere, and they realized it was time to let Griffey play for a contender. As a result, he was sent to the White Sox for Nick Masset and Danny Richar.
Griffey was okay with Chicago, but far from spectacular. Masset remains a quality reliever for the Reds, and while Richar's already done, it was a move that the team wanting prospects actually benefited from.
Grade: C for Chicago, B+ for Cincinnati
Somehow, Mark Teixeira managed to be the key piece in a deadline deal two years in a row. In the most recent, the Braves traded Teixeira to the Angels for Steve Marek and Casey Kotchman.
Teixeira was lights out with the Angels, hitting .358 en route to the team winning 100 games. Marek remains in the minors and Kotchman was mediocre in parts of two seasons with Atlanta.
Grade: A for Los Angeles, F for Atlanta. I'm not really sure whether the Braves were even really trying to get anything for Teixeira given those two.
A year before the Braves traded Mark Teixeira, they picked him up in a big deadline deal. They got him from the Rangers with Ron Mahay for Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Teixeira played very well with Atlanta, as was expected since they were getting one of the top first basemen in the game. Mahay was good the half a season he played as well, but Atlanta failed to make the playoffs despite acquiring the two. The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, got their future.
Only Jones never made the majors. Andrus and Felix are both great young talents, while Harrison has quietly been just as highly productive. Saltalamacchia was just okay, but the Rangers turned him into a slew of Red Sox prospects on top of it.
Grade: B for Atlanta, A+ for Texas
In the mid-2000s, Eric Gagne may have been the most elite reliever in baseball and was great for Texas in half a season. Boston wanted bullpen help, and they picked him up in exchange for Engel Beltre, Kason Gabbard and David Murphy.
Gagne struggled in 20 games for the Sox, and he never got into a good rhythm. Sure Boston won the World Series, but it was no thanks to him.
Beltre is mired in Double-A and Gabbard was done in 2010, but Murphy's been a consistently reliable outfielder. Getting that for a one-year bullpen guy is a trade any team will gladly make.
Grade: D for Boston, B+ for Texas
Luis Castillo was at his peak in the mid-2000s, and in 2007, the Twins seemed to find just the right time to trade him. The Mets picked him up for Dustin Martin and Drew Butera.
Martin is back in the Mets minor league system, and Butera can't seem to hit much in the majors. Castillo had some success in 2009, but was mostly a pain for the Mets; he was solid in 2007, but re-signing him backfired.
Grade: C for Mets, D for Twins
The Texas Rangers built up their young foundation with the Teixeira move in 2007, but they were buyers in 2006, acquiring Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers for Julian Cordero, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Laynce Nix.
Lee only stayed through 2006, but played very well in Texas, hitting .322. Nelson Cruz, however, has been a force of power when healthy. If he could only play in 140 games a year, the trade would look that much better.
Julian Cordero never made it to the majors, but Francisco was great for Milwaukee in 2006 and 2007. Mench never matched his Texas output, and Nix barely played for Milwaukee at all, playing in 30 games over three seasons.
Grade: A- for Texas, C for Milwaukee
Bobby Abreu was one of many big bats for the Phillies in 2006, and needing one, the Yankees traded to acquire him and Cory Lidle, giving up C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith.
Lidle's career with the Yankees was tragically cut short, and while Abreu was not quite where he was in his prime, he still has two straight 100-RBI seasons and was a bat the Yankees could count on.
As for the Phillies, Henry and Sanchez never reached the majors. Monasterios later played a year with the Dodgers, but never with the Phillies. Only Smith played for the Phillies, having a decent 2006 but falling apart in 2007, only playing in 23 total games.
Grade: B+ for Yankees, F for Phillies, though I understand that it was meant to be a salary dump.
Julio Lugo was a hot bat for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2006, and since they weren't looking to the playoffs, they traded him to the Dodgers for Sergio Pedroza and Joel Guzman.
Despite hitting .308 for Tampa Bay, Lugo stunk in Los Angeles, hitting only .219 in 49 games; he never got back to the Tampa Bay level. Pedroza never made the majors and Guzman played 16 games for the Devil Rays, so it was a lose-lose.
Grade: D for both
The 2005 trade deadline was, at best, a letdown. The only trade that sticks out at all, more in hindsight than anything, is the Mariners trading Randy Winn to the Giants for Jesse Foppert and Yorvit Torrealba.
Foppert never played in Seattle, while Torrealba was forgettable in half a season. Winn, however, hit .359 with 14 home runs in 59 games, compared to hitting .275 with Seattle that year. It didn't help them make the playoffs, but it did help him stay with the team through 2009.
Grade: A+ for San Francisco, D- for Seattle
While the trade is somewhat forgettable now, at the time it was just as big a deal as the Randy Winn trade. The Tigers traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Braves for Roman Colon and Zach Miner.
Farnsworth was lights out for Atlanta. He had a 1.98 ERA in 26 appearances and almost led the team in saves despite such a short stay. As for the Tigers, Colon was okay in 2005 and 2006, while Miner was a solid reliever for four years.
Grade: A- for Atlanta, B for Detroit
The clear blockbuster trade of 2004 besides Carlos Beltran (who was dealt in June) involved Nomar Garciaparra, as well as four teams total. Nomar and Matt Murton joined the Cubs, who sent Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris to the Expos, who sent Orlando Cabrera to Boston.
Lumped in was Justin Jones moving from Chicago to the Twins and Doug Mientkiewicz moving from Minnesota to the Red Sox. For the Twins, Doug did nothing in Boston and Jones never made the majors, so it was a wash for them.
Cabrera played well for Boston, but Nomar wasn't quite himself in Chicago, though he still played well when healthy. Murton played a few seasons with Chicago, though it was nothing too special. Beltran and Harris barely played in Montreal, and Gonzalez was shipped off as well.
Grade: C for everyone; as huge a trade as it was at the time, it didn't really amount to much for anyone. B- for Boston, though, solely for Cabrera's production in the '04 ALCS.
Despite being 39 in 2004, Steve Finley still had value, so the Diamondbacks traded him and Brent Mayne to the Dodgers for Reggie Abercrombie, Koyie Hill and Bill Murphy.
Finley played solid baseball but struggled in the postseason for the Dodgers, while Mayne ended his career quietly in Los Angeles. Abercrombie never played for Arizona and Murphy played in 10 total games. Hill played 47 games for Arizona, meaning that the trade didn't really help anyone.
Grade: C+ for Dodgers, D for Diamondbacks
In 2003, Sidney Ponson was coming off his best season, and he was traded by the Orioles to the Giants for Ryan Hannaman, Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss.
Ponson pitched solidly for San Francisco, but lost his playoff start and actually returned to Baltimore in free agency. Hannaman never made the majors, Ainsworth struggled in 10 games and Moss wasn't any good in his half a year either.
Grade: C for San Francisco, D for Baltimore
In 2003, Aaron Boone was having a career year, and the Reds capitalized on it, trading him to the Yankees for Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning.
Boone was just okay in New York, but everyone remembers his playoff heroics against the Red Sox, and it made the trade more than worth it. Claussen struggled in three seasons as a starter in Cincinnati, and Manning only played sparingly in the Reds minor league system, only seeing major league time with the Nationals in 2008.
Grade: B+ for Yankees, C- for Reds