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MLB Power Rankings: The Top 20 Impact Waiver Trades of All-Time

Doug MeadCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2016

MLB Power Rankings: The Top 20 Impact Waiver Trades of All-Time

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    With just three weeks left until the end of the MLB waiver trade deadline, teams are looking for that one final deal that can impact them in a positive way.

    Over the course of baseball history, several transactions made in the final weeks of the season have done just that, benefiting either the buying or selling team in one way or another.

    Bleacher Report will take a look at the 20 greatest MLB waiver trades of all time. We have included a couple of non-trades as well, waiver transactions that changed the fortunes of teams in the process.

20. Joe Blanton: Los Angeles Dodgers, 2012

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    It wouldn't be any fun if we didn't include at least one deal made already this season, and one that could have some impact.

    Last week, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton probably breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he had dodged a bullet in not being dealt before the end of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.

    However, that breath was short-lived.

    Blanton was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 3 for a player to be named later, and within 48 hours made his first start for his new team.

    It appeared that Blanton might be dealt to the Baltimore Orioles just prior to the deadline, but the two teams were unable to come to terms, which some reports suggesting that the O's wanted the Phillies to pick up a portion of the remaining money owed to Blanton.

    The Dodgers took Blanton without asking for money, so the deal was quickly finalized on the Friday after the deadline. While the Dodgers will pay the remaining $3 million or so for Blanton, they essentially give up nothing in return.

    The Dodgers won Blanton's first start as he tossed six innings of two-run ball.

19. Arthur Rhodes: St. Louis Cardinals, 2011

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    This was a transaction that came back to haunt the Texas Rangers.

    Before last year's trade deadline, the Rangers had acquired relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara in separate deals. Rhodes was the casualty, being designated for assignment to make room for Adams on the 25-man roster.

    Just three days later on Aug. 11, the Cardinals signed Rhodes for the rest of the season. While Rhodes was just OK in the final weeks of the regular season (4.15 ERA in 19 appearances), he was absolutely outstanding in the postseason, not allowing a run or a hit in eight appearances.

    In the World Series against the Rangers, Rhodes faced his old teammates three times, setting down all three batters he faced to pick up a World Series ring.

18. Dave Hollins: Seattle Mariners, 1996

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    On Aug. 29, 1996, the Seattle Mariners were five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and were looking to beef up for the final month of the regular season.

    They acquired Dave Hollins for a player to be named later from the Minnesota Twins. Hollins was terrific down the stretch for the Mariners, hitting .351 with three homers and 25 RBI in just 28 games. However, Hollins' terrific offensive production wasn't enough as the Mariners finished 4.5 games behind the Rangers.

    The player to be named later? None other than 21-year-old prospect David Ortiz.

17. Candy Maldonado: Toronto Blue Jays, 1991

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    On Aug. 9, 1991, the Toronto Blue Jays were five games in front of the Detroit Tigers in the AL East and looking to hang on to their lead for the final weeks of the regular season.

    They acquired left fielder Candy Maldonado from the Milwaukee Brewers for Rob Wishnevski and William Suero.

    Maldonado wasn't of much help immediately after the trade, but in 1992 was the everyday left fielder for the team that went on to win its first-ever World Series championship.

    Maldonado came up huge in the ALCS for the Jays in 1992, hitting two home runs with six RBI in the six-game defeat of the Oakland Athletics.

16. Mark Whiten: Seattle Mariners, 1996

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    Just two weeks before the Seattle Mariners acquired infielder Dave Hollins from the Minnesota Twins for a very young David Ortiz in 1996, they made another acquisition.

    On Aug. 14, the Mariners made a deal with the Atlanta Braves, acquiring outfielder Mark Whiten for minor league prospect Roger Blanco.

    Whiten too did his part to help the Mariners, hitting .300 with 12 HR and 33 RBI in the final 40 games of the season, but as mentioned previously, it wasn't quite enough.

    Ironically, both Whiten and Hollins had been traded for each other in July 1995.

15. Marlon Anderson: Los Angeles Dodgers, 2006

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    On Aug. 31, 2006, the Los Angeles Dodgers were holding onto a slim three-game lead over the San Diego Padres in the NL West.

    On the final day before the waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers acquired outfielder Marlon Anderson from the Washington Nationals for pitcher Jhonny Nunez.

    Anderson certainly did his part, hitting .375 with seven HR and 15 RBI in the final 25 games of the season for the Dodgers, but the Padres and Dodgers ended up tied at the top of the NL West at the end of regular season play, with the Padres capturing the title due to their 13-5 advantage over the Dodgers in head-to-head play.

    Anderson hit .308 in the NLDS against the New York Mets, but the Dodgers were swept in three games.

14. Jose Bautista: Toronto Blue Jays, 2008

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    On Aug. 21, 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays entered into a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, acquiring well-traveled outfielder Jose Bautista for catcher Robinson Diaz.

    The deal had no impact on the Jays at the time, well out of contention at the time and sitting in fourth place in the AL East Division.

    The Jays took a chance on Bautista, who had at that time been given up on by four different organizations.

    It's safe to say that the Jays' chance paid off.

13. Jeff Conine: Florida Marlins, 2003

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    Jeff Conine was an original member of the expansion Florida Marlins in 1993 and was an integral part of the team that captured their first-ever World Series in 1997.

    Six years later, Conine was headed back home once again.

    The Marlins, deadlocked in a tight race for the National League Wild Card, acquired Conine on Aug. 31, 2003 from the Baltimore Orioles for Denny Bautista and minor leaguer Don Levinski.

    It was a key move for the Marlins, as Conine's savvy veteran presence was a definite factor down the stretch.

    During the postseason, Conine hit .367 in helping the Marlins win their second World Series championship.

12. Tony Armas, Jr.: Boston Red Sox, 1997

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    On Aug. 13, 1997, the Boston Red Sox shipped catcher Mike Stanley and minor league prospect Randy Brown to the New York Yankees, receiving prospect pitcher Tony Armas, Jr. and a player to be named later.

    Armas, the son of former Red Sox center fielder Tony Armas, never played a game for the Red Sox, but he became a key piece in a later trade that would benefit the Red Sox for years to come.

    In November 1997, the Red Sox shipped prospect pitcher Carl Pavano and a player to be named later to the Montreal Expos for NL Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez.

    A month later, the player to be named later was Armas, Jr..

11. Bert Blyleven: Minnesota Twins, 1985

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    For starting pitcher Bert Blyleven, his trade back to the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 1, 1985 was a coming home of sorts—his debut came in a Twins uniform in 1970.

    The Twins acquired Blyleven from the Pittsburgh Pirates for SS Jay Bell, P Curt Wardle, OF Jim Weaver and P Rich Yett.

    Blyleven was indeed home again, and while the trade didn't yield instant dividends, he was the anchor of a starting rotation that would help the Twins win their first World Series title in 1987.

10. Jon Rauch: Minnesota Twins, 2009

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    On Aug. 28, 2009, the Minnesota Twins were sitting at .500 (64-64) and 4.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central Division.

    They acquired reliever Jon Rauch from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Kevin Mulvey. Rauch's arrival coincided with a tremendous run to the finish.

    The Twins would win 23 of their remaining 35 games, with Rauch providing spectacular relief along the way. In 17 appearances, Rauch was 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA, helping the Twins catch the Tigers on the final day of the regular season to force a one-game playoff.

    Rauch got two outs in the top of the seventh inning and the Twins went on the defeat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings to win the AL Central Division title.

    Rauch was terrific in 2010 as well, picking up 21 saves after Joe Nathan went down with season-ending Tommy John surgery.

9. Alejandro Pena: Atlanta Braves, 1991

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    8. Cody Ross: San Francisco Giants, 2010

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      7. Zane Smith: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1990

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        On August 8, 1990, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in a tight battle with the New York Mets, leading the NL East Division by just 1.5 games.

        They made a move to strengthen their rotation, obtaining Zane Smith from the Montreal Expos for Moises Alou, Willie Green and Scott Ruskin.

        The move certainly paid off, as the Pirates went 31-23 the rest of the way and Smith was simply magnificent down the stretch. Smith posted a 6-2 record, a 1.30 ERA, three complete games, two shutouts and a 0.842 WHIP.

        Unfortunately, Smith lost steam in the postseason, losing two games to the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS. Smith would go on to win 16 games the following season, including a win over the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 NLCS.

      6. Woody Williams: St. Louis Cardinals, 2001

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        On Aug. 2, 2001, the St. Louis Cardinals were just two games above .500, a full 7.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central Division and buried behind several teams in the race for the lone Wild Card spot.

        In a move to shore up their starting rotation, the Cardinals acquired Woody Williams from the San Diego Padres for outfielder Ray Lankford.

        Williams provided the spark the Cardinals needed, pitching brilliantly down the stretch. Williams was 7-1 in 11 starts with a 2.28 ERA, as the Cardinals won 39 of their final 56 games to capture the Wild Card.

        Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Williams wasn't available to pitch every game in the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Williams won his lone start with a fabulous seven-inning effort, the Cards lost in five games.

        Williams would go on to pitch the best baseball of his career in St. Louis, compiling a record of 45-22 with a 3.53 ERA.

      5. David Cone: Toronto Blue Jays, 1992

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        4. Dave Henderson and Spike Owen: Boston Red Sox, 1986

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          On Aug. 19, 1986, the Boston Red Sox enjoyed a 5.5 game lead in the American League East Division over the New York Yankees, but they were taking no chances.

          They pulled off a deal with the Seattle Mariners, obtaining outfielder Dave Henderson and shortstop Spike Owen. The Mariners received shortstop Rey Quinones and three players to be named later.

          Neither actually did much to contribute for the rest of the regular season, both hitting under .200 in the final six weeks of the season.

          However, Henderson's spot in Red Sox lore was cemented in Game 5 of the ALCS against the California Angels, crushing a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning off reliever Donnie Moore to put the Sox ahead 6-5.

          Henderson would later hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th as well, giving the Red Sox a 7-6 victory. The Angels never recovered, leading the Red Sox back to the World Series for the first time in 11 years.

          Henderson also hit .400 with two homers and five RBI in the seven-game loss to the Mets as well.

        3. Larry Walker: St. Louis Cardinals, 2004

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          2. Larry Andersen: 1990, Boston Red Sox

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            In late August 1990, the Boston Red Sox sacrificed the future for the present, and the sacrifice came back to haunt them for years.

            The Sox made the decision to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run, acquiring reliever Larry Andersen from the Houston Astros on Aug. 30. In return, the Red Sox received a promising prospect—first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who at that time had yet to play above the Double-A level.

            Andersen was in fact helpful as the Sox went on to win the AL East Division before being swept in the ALCS by the Oakland Athletics.

            Bagwell simply went on to become the greatest hitter in Astros history.

          1. Doyle Alexander: Detroit Tigers, 1987

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            On Aug. 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East Division and were looking to make a push.

            The Tigers acquired starting pitcher Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves for young pitching prospect John Smoltz.

            Alexander was absolutely outstanding for the Tigers, posting a 9-0 record and 1.53 ERA in 11 starts, and the Tigers won 33 of their remaining 51 games to overtake the Jays for the AL East title.

            However, the Tigers lost the ALCS to the Minnesota Twins in five games, and 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, ending his fabulous career in 2009 with a likely place in the Hall of Fame sometime in the near future.


            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.

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