Doyle Alexander and Baseball's 25 Slickest Trade Deadline Pickups Ever
Photo courtesy realclearsports.com
In Major League Baseball, deals made at the trade deadline often benefit the buying team, as it looks to put the finishing touches on a roster that will hopefully find postseason success.
In many cases, the deals also favor the selling team as well, as it gets back prospects in return, many of whom have stellar careers.
With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline now just approaching quickly, Bleacher Report will look back at 25 trade deadlines that both shocked and amazed, either for the buyer or for the seller—in some cases, maybe even both.
We will include deals that occurred throughout the month of August as well.
Curt Schilling to Arizona Diamondbacks
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On July 26, 2000, the Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a five-player trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, acquiring starting pitcher Curt Schilling for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla.
Both Lee and Padilla did at least contribute something for the Phillies during their time there: Lee with 20 HR and 90 RBI in 2001 and Padilla with 14-win seasons in 2002 and 2003.
However, Schilling gave the Diamondbacks one of the most formidable 1-2 starting rotations in the National League along with Randy Johnson, and together the two helped the Diamondbacks win their only World Series championship in 2001.
Doyle Alexander to Detroit Tigers for John Smoltz
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In mid-August of 1987, the Detroit Tigers were making a push to overtake the Toronto Blue Jays at the top of the AL East and acquired veteran right-hander Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves for young pitching prospect John Smoltz.
Alexander was very helpful to the Tigers for the rest of the season, posting a 9-0 record and 1.53 ERA down the stretch to help Detroit capture the AL East title. However, Alexander was out of baseball two years later.
Smoltz teamed with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for many years to lead the Braves to 14 consecutive NL East titles and a World Series championship in 1995. Smoltz is the only man in MLB history to record 200 wins and 150 saves.
The Tigers gained in the short term with Alexander's performance for the rest of the 1987 season but in the long run missed out on what turned out to be an outstanding career for Smoltz—one that will likely put him in the Hall of Fame.
Orlando Cabera and Doug Mientkiewicz to Boston Red Sox
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It was a complicated four-team, eight-player trade, but one that netted the Boston Red Sox their first World Series championship since 1918, ending the famous 86-year drought.
On July 31, 2004, the Red Sox sent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and outfielder Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs in turn sent RP Francis Beltran, SS Alex Gonzalez and IF Brendan Harris to the Montreal Expos, who then sent shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox.
The Cubs also sent SP Justin Jones to the Minnesota Twins, who then sent first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox.
The trade of the popular Garciaparra originally was not met with joy by Sox fans. However, Cabrera and Mientkiewicz solidified the infield defense for the Sox, and Cabrera's bat down the stretch was a huge factor as well.
Larry Andersen to Boston Red Sox for Jeff Bagwell
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In late August of 1990, the Boston Red Sox were looking to bolster their bullpen for a postseason run, acquiring relief pitcher Larry Andersen just before the waiver trade deadline. In return, the Houston Astros received first baseman prospect Jeff Bagwell, who had yet to play a game above the Double-A level.
Andersen did help the Red Sox win the 1990 AL East title but was gone the following season. Bagwell simply became one of the greatest hitters in Astros history whose career will likely culminate with a Hall of Fame plaque.
Doug Fister to Detroit Tigers
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On July 30, 2011, the Detroit Tigers were holding on to a 2.5 game lead in the AL Central Division and were looking to bolster their starting rotation for the final two months of the season.
The Tigers acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Charlie Furbush and Chance Ruffin, outfielder Casper Wells and minor league third baseman Francisco Martinez.
Fister had a 3-12 record at the time, but with a solid 3.33 ERA. In Detroit, Fister showed what he could do with a little run support, posting an 8-1 record and 1.79 ERA in his final 10 starts, helping the Tigers cruise to an AL Central Division title.
Cliff Lee to Philadelphia Phillies
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On July 29, 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies looked to upgrade their roster in an effort to successfully defend their World Series championship.
They acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp.
Lee, who was the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, was excellent down the stretch for the Phillies, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.
In the postseason, Lee kicked it into overdrive, making five starts and posting a 4-0 record with a 1.56 ERA. Unfortunately, his effort wasn't quite enough, as the Phillies lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series in six games.
David Cone to New York Yankees
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On July 28, 1995, the New York Yankees were 41-41 and 4.5 games out of the lead in the American League East, but with the new Wild Card slot that had just been introduced that year, they were in contention and looking for their first playoff berth in 14 seasons.
The Yankees acquired starting pitcher David Cone from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon and Marty Janzen.
The deal turned out to be a steal—Cone was outstanding in the Big Apple, posting a 9-2 record in his final 13 starts to help the Yankees clinch the Wild Card berth.
Cone would go on to collect four World Series rings in six seasons with the Yankees.
CC Sabathia to Milwaukee Brewers
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A year before the Cleveland Indians unloaded the reigning Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, they did the exact same thing with another Cy Young Award winner.
On July 7, 2008, CC Sabathia, who captured the award in 2007, was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers by the Tribe for Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley.
At the time of the deal, the Brewers were 49-40, four games out of the lead in the NL Central Division and in the thick of the race for the Wild Card.
Sabathia was simply outstanding down the stretch, posting an 11-2 record and 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, including a league-leading three shutouts. The Brewers captured the wild-card slot but were unable to move past the Phillies in the NLDS.
David Justice to New York Yankees
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About a month before the non-waiver trade deadline in 2000, the New York Yankees made a big splash, landing star slugger David Justice.
On June 29, 2000, the Yankees acquired Justice from the Cleveland Indians for Zach Day, Ricky Ledee and Jake Westbrook.
It turned out to be a pretty lopsided trade—in favor of the Yankees.
Justice was off to a decent start with the Indians, hitting .265 with 21 HR and 58 RBI. He was equally as productive for the Yankees, hitting .305 with 20 HR and 60 RBI in the final three months of the season.
Justice shined in the ALCS, hitting two HR with eight RBI in a six-game series victory over the Seattle Mariners, helping the Yankees reach their fourth World Series in the last five years.
David Cone to Toronto Blue Jays
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Four days before the end of the waiver deadline in 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays made a bid to strengthen their starting rotation for the final month of the season and the playoffs.
Locked in a tight battle at the time in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles, the Jays acquired David Cone from the New York Mets for second baseman Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson.
Cone would post a 2.55 ERA in seven starts for the Jays and would make four more meaningful starts in the postseason as well, helping the Jays win their first-ever World Series title.
Larry Walker to St. Louis Cardinals
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In 2004, All-Star outfielder Larry Walker was nearing the end of his career, and injuries had taken a big bite out of his season already with the Colorado Rockies.
Nonetheless, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Walker on Aug. 6 for Jason Burch, Luis Martinez and Chris Narveson.
A healthy Walker thrived in St. Louis, hitting .280 with 11 HR and 27 RBI in 44 games, helping the Cards to capture the NL Central Division title.
Walker was terrific in the postseason as well, hitting .293 with six HR and 11 RBI, but his Cards lost to the Boston Red Sox in four games in the 2004 World Series.
Jose Bautista to Toronto Blue Jays
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On Aug. 21, 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays took a chance on a player who just couldn't seem to find a home, having been with four organizations already in his first five seasons.
The Jays acquired outfielder Jose Bautista for a player to be named later (Robinson Diaz) in a deal that at the time seemed like just another team taking a leap of faith.
Turned out to be a pretty decent leap.
Bautista platooned for much of 2009, looking very much like the player who had been given up on by four other teams. However, in 2010, Bautista rededicated himself, and the results were amazing.
Bautista swatted 54 home runs for the Jays in 2010, and followed up with another 43 in 2011, raising his batting average a full 42 points to .302. Bautista also led the American League in slugging percentage and OPS in 2011 along with his back-to-back home run titles.
Sometimes, a leap of faith is all a player needs.
Jeff Conine to Florida Marlins
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On Aug. 31, 2003, Mr. Marlin returned home.
Jeff Conine, one of the original Marlin players in their expansion season in 1993, returned home to Miami, with the Baltimore Orioles trading Conine for Denny Bautista and Don Levinksi.
Conine gave a huge boost with his veteran presence and leadership, contributing five HR and 15 RBI in the final 25 games of the regular season as the Marlins claimed the lone NL Wild Card.
Conine was outstanding in the postseason, hitting .367 with one HR and five RBI, including hitting .458 in the grueling seven-game NLCS win over the Chicago Cubs.
Carlos Beltran to Houston Astros
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Center fielder Carlos Beltran had spent the first six-plus seasons of his career with the Kansas City Royals, honing his craft and becoming an All-Star-caliber player.
On June 24, 2004, Beltran was dealt to the Houston Astros as part of a three-team trade, and Beltran's presence in Houston paid immediate dividends.
Beltran hit 23 HR with 53 RBI in 90 games for the Astros, helping them to capture the lone wild-card spot. Beltran then absolutely shined in the postseason, hitting .435 with eight HR and 14 RBI, however, his Astros lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in a tough seven-game series in the NLCS.
Beltran's efforts that season landed him a fat seven-year, $119 million contract with the New York Mets.
Rick Sutcliffe to Chicago Cubs
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In 1984, Rick Sutcliffe had gotten off to a horrible start with the Cleveland Indians, posting a 4-5 record and 5.15 ERA in his first 15 starts of the season. The Indians decided to make a change.
The Chicago Cubs were the recipients of that change.
On June 13, the Indians dealt Sutcliffe along with George Frazier and Ron Hassey to the Cubs in exchange for Joe Carter, Mel Hall, Don Schulze and minor-leaguer Darryl Banks.
Carter and Hall would go on to have solid careers with Cleveland, but what Sutcliffe did with the Cubs was magical indeed.
Sutcliffe posted a 16-1 record and 2.69 ERA in 20 starts for the Cubs, propelling them to the National League East Division title. Sutcliffe won Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres with a superlative seven-inning effort, giving up only two hits. However, Sutcliffe couldn't carry through in Game 5, allowing six runs and taking the loss in the series finale.
Sutcliffe was named the NL Cy Young Award winner in a unanimous vote.
Fred McGriff to Atlanta Braves
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On July 18, 1993, the Atlanta Braves went out hunting for a power-hitting first baseman. They got their man in Fred McGriff.
The Braves acquired McGriff from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott and Melvin Nieves. None of the three players acquired by the Padres had any significant impact during their time in San Diego, but McGriff certainly helped the Braves.
McGriff was outstanding, hitting .310 with 19 HR and 55 RBI over the final 68 games of the regular season, helping the Braves capture their third consecutive NL West Division title.
McGriff was solid in the postseason as well, hitting .435 with one HR and four RBI, but it wasn't enough as the Braves lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games in the NLCS.
McGriff would man first base for the Braves for the next four seasons, finally winning a World Series ring in 1995.
Randy Johnson to Houston Astros
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On the day the MLB non-waiver trade deadline expired in 1998, the Houston Astros made one bold move that catapulted them into the playoffs.
On July 31, the Astros acquired Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson in exchange for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama.
Johnson had won the 1995 AL Cy Young Award and had narrowly missed out in 1997, finishing runner-up to Roger Clemens.
In 1998, Johnson was struggling, off to a 9-10 start and 4.33 ERA in 23 starts. The trade clearly rejuvenated Johnson, who posted a spectacular 10-1 record and 1.28 ERA in 11 starts for the Astros, helping them to run away with the NL Central Division title.
Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to get any run support in his two starts against the San Diego Padres in the NLDS, losing both games while posting a 1.93 ERA.
In retrospect, it was the Mariners who made out in the deal overall, as Garcia, Guillen and Halama all helped contribute in a positive way for Seattle over several years. Johnson signed a lucrative multi-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks after the conclusion of the 1998 season.
Cody Ross Selected off Waivers by San Francisco Giants
In late August, 2010, the Florida Marlins decided to part ways with Cody Ross, placing him on waivers. The following day, the San Francisco Giants pounced.
Ross was claimed by the Giants on Aug. 23, and while his stats don't indicate that he did anything special for the remainder of the regular season (.288, three HR and seven RBI in 33 games), his postseason stats tell an altogether different tale.
Ross was simply magnificent in his first taste of October baseball, hitting .286 with a homer and four RBI in the Giants' four-game over the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
In the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies, Ross turned it up a notch, hitting .350 with three HR and five RBI in the Giants' six-game victory, propelling them to the World Series.
Ross hit .235 with another homer and two RBI against the Texas Rangers, helping the Giants capture their first World Series championship in 56 years.
Ross got hot at the right time, and the Giants reaped the rewards.
Alejandro Pena to Atlanta Braves
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On Aug. 28, 1991, the Atlanta Braves were in a dogfight with the Los Angeles Dodgers, tied atop the standings with equal 69-56 records.
The Braves made a move to shore up their bullpen, acquiring reliever Alejandro Pena from the New York Mets for Tony Castillo and Joe Roa.
Pena had been excellent for the Mets, posting a 6-1 record and 2.71 ERA in 44 appearances. With the Braves, Pena was even better, stabilizing the bullpen by posting a 1.40 ERA in 15 appearances down the stretch. The Braves held off the Dodgers, capturing the division title.
Pena delivered for the Braves in the NLCS as well, allowing just one hit over 4.1 innings in four appearances, as the Braves bested the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games to move on to the World Series.
Unfortunately for Pena and the Braves, his luck ran out in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, giving up the series-winning hit to Gene Larkin.
Jermaine Dye to Oakland Athletics
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In four-plus seasons with the Kansas City Royals, outfielder Jermaine Dye had become a complete player, hitting for power and average while winning a Gold Glove Award as well.
On July 25, 2001, Dye went through a whirlwind of a day.
He was first traded to the Colorado Rockies for shortstop Neifi Perez. The Rockies then flipped Dye over to the Oakland Athletics, getting Todd Belitz, Mario Encarnacion and Jose Ortiz in exchange.
The deal definitely worked out for Oakland. Dye hit .297 with 13 HR and 59 RBI for the A's in just 61 games, helping them to capture the wild-card berth in the American League.
Dye was unable to muster much offensively in the ALDS as the A's lost to the New York Yankees in five games. However, Dye's presence in the A's lineup helped them win an incredible 48 of their final 62 regular season games.
Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia Phillies
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On July 29, 2010, the Philadelphia Phillies made a bold trade to bolster their starting rotation, acquiring veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for Jonathan Villar, Anthony Gose and J.A. Happ.
Oswalt had spent his entire career in Houston, winning 143 games in 10 seasons with a 3.24 ERA. However, with the Astros floundering at the time, Oswalt had a chance to get back to the postseason once again.
Oswalt delivered, posting a 7-1 record and 1.74 ERA in 12 starts, helping the Phillies capture their fourth consecutive NL East Division title.
Hanley Ramirez to Los Angeles Dodgers
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For six seasons, Hanley Ramirez had toiled in South Florida, claiming a Rookie of the Year Award and a batting title, but also displaying behavior that often saw him at odds with managers.
On July 24, the Marlins, disappointed in the team's sluggish play after spending close to $200 million during the offseason in player acquisitions, decided to send their mercurial shortstop/third baseman off to Hollywood.
The Marlins shipped Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with reliever Randy Choate in exchange for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Scott McGough.
Ramirez responded in his first game with the Dodgers on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, going 2-for-4 in his debut, including a triple, a run scored and an RBI.
Certainly a nice beginning for Ramirez, who was struggling at the plate with a .246 average, 14 HR and 48 RBI. Only time will tell how this deal pans out, but Ramirez' change of scenery could lead to a resurgence, both for Ramirez and for the Dodgers.
Matt Holliday to St. Louis Cardinals
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On July 24, 2009, outfielder Matt Holliday saw his very brief career with the Oakland Athletics come to an end.
After spending his first five seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Holliday was shipped to the A's following the 2008 season. Just 93 games into his career with the A's, he was gone.
Holliday was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for Shane Peterson, Clayton Mortensen and Brett Wallace.
The trade paid immediate dividends. Holliday had only hit 11 home runs for the A's in the first four months of the season—he thrived with the Cardinals, hitting a robust .353 with 13 HR and 55 RBI in just 63 games, helping the Cardinals capture the NL Central Division title.
Holliday's efforts prompted the Cardinals to reward him with a seven-year, $120 million contract.
Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles Dodgers
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In late July, 2008 the "Manny being Manny" act was quickly drawing to a conclusion in Boston, and not in a good way.
Manny Ramirez was nearing the end of his eight-year, $160 million contract, and things were starting to get out of hand in terms of Ramirez's antics and Boston's complete displeasure with those ongoing antics.
On July 31, the Red Sox entered into a three-team transaction, shipping Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and in the process receiving left fielder Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Manny became an instant cult figure on the West Coast, and his performance was other-worldly.
Manny hit an incredible .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in just 53 games for the Dodgers, as they would go on to capture first place in the NL West.
Manny was outstanding in the playoffs as well, hitting .500 with two homers and three RBI in a three-game sweep over the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS, and then hitting an even more robust .533 with two HR and seven HR against the Philadelphia Phillies. It wasn't enough, however, as the Phillies would take the series in five games.
Manny was rewarded with a two-year, $45 million contract for his efforts.
Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals
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This trade was the steal of all deals—no pun intended.
On June 15, 1964, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a six-player trade, with the Cubs getting pitchers Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz along with outfielder Doug Clemens. In return, the Cardinals got outfielder Lou Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth.
Not only was this the best trade in St. Louis Cardinals history, it was one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history.
Brock would go on to help the Cardinals achieve three National League pennants and two World Series titles, becoming the all-time stolen base leader in the process at the time.
Brock would also collect his 3,000th hit in 1979, becoming only the 14th player in MLB history to achieve the historic feat.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.