As sports fans, we are predisposed to complain whenever "our team" makes a trade that involves a marquee player.
It's in our nature. We don't want to see our favorites walk away—especially if they're going to be wearing the uniforms of our rivals—so we complain, even though deep down we know the trade was the right move. Look at what's happening in Boston with the Celtics right now. Was it the right move? Yes, but still, the fans are still on the verge of rioting.
There are good trades that seem unfair at the time, and then there are really, really bad trades. I'm not even talking about the truly terrible lopsided ones (though a few of those made the cut for this list). Have you ever seen your favorite player exchanged for a fence? Or traded for a hunk of pork? Or traded for himself?
Yeah. When Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett get traded for a bag of maple bats, then we can complain.
You know your team doesn't think that much of you when they're willing to ship you out for a sack of lumber.
During spring training of 2008, pitcher John Odom was released from the San Francisco Giants and thus signed with the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League. There was a roadblock, though: Because he had a criminal record, Odom was denied entry to Canada.
Vipers brass attempted a plethora of trades to send Odom to the Laredo Broncos, but the only one that worked was trading Odom for 10 Prairie Stick bats, worth a whopping $665.
Hence, his nickname—"Bat Man"—was born.
One of the best players in the history of professional basketball for a measly $3 million? Seems to good to be true.
In 1976, it wasn't. Julius Erving—an 11-time All-Star, four-time MVP and future Hall of Famer—was traded from the New York Nets (now, Brooklyn Nets) to the Philadelphia 76ers for just a few million. And when Dr. J got to Philly, he received a $3 million raise and was dubbed "the Babe Ruth of basketball" by owner F. Eugene Dixon, according to ESPN.com.
Dixon's prophecy couldn't have been more accurate. Erving went on to to take the Sixers to four NBA Finals, was named league MVP in 1981 and won the title with Philly in 1983.
Bet that's one the Nets would like to have back.
Now here is something you don't see everyday. In 1998, Romanian soccer club UTA Arad was in trouble. It had too many players to pay and not enough money to even feed everyone.
So the club got creative: It shipped defender Marius Cioara to Regal Horia in exchange for 15 kilograms of meat, enough food to feed the team for a week.
Unfortunately for Regal Horia, though, the player—upon being traded—decided that he was done with football and quit in order to pursue a career in agriculture or construction, according to ESPNFC.com.
It prompted this hilarious quotation from a team official: "We are upset because we lost twice—firstly because we lost a good player and secondly because we lost our team's food for a whole week."
Green Bay definitely got a bargain out of this.
Back in 1991, Brett Favre was just a superstar college quarterback from the University of Southern Mississippi. The Atlanta Falcons selected him with the 33rd overall pick in the '91 draft, but there was one guy who didn't like the move: Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville. Unfortunately, he had a lot of clout.
Thus, because his head coach hated him, Favre was traded to the Packers following the 1991 season for the measly price of a first-round pick, which would be used on Tony Smith.
Smith's professional career would last two years. Favre's, meanwhile, would span 16 years and would include a Super Bowl ring, three league MVPs and 11 Pro Bowl selections.
Many years later, Glanville would insist that he sent Favre to Green Bay because the city was a better fit for him, given his struggles with alcohol and painkillers, according to NBCSports.com. Glanville told Gregg Rosenthal:
"I had to get him out of Atlanta...I could not sober him up. I sent him to a city where at 9:00 at night the only thing that’s open is Chili Joes."
That would definitely explains it.
Dave Winfield made plenty of history throughout the course of his 22-year baseball career. He played for six teams, he made 12 All-Star teams, he had his number retired by the Padres—for whom he now serves as Executive VP and Senior Adviser—and he will be forever enshrined in Cooperstown.
But, perhaps, the most impressive stat on Winfield's resume is that he still remains the only player in the history of the sport to ever be traded for a dinner.
Just prior the 1994 labor strike, the MinnesotaTwins traded Winfield to the Indians for a player to be named later. Because the strike ended the season prematurely, Winfield never played a game for Cleveland, and thus, the Twins never got anything in exchange for him.
So the two teams settled the debt by having a nice dinner out together, and the Indians paid.
Of course, we have to address what might forever remain the most lopsided and ridiculous trade in sports history.
The legendary Babe Ruth began his career as a member of the Boston Red Sox and propelled them to three World Series titles within the first five years of his career. He was the most ferocious hitter in baseball, universally feared by anyone who ever took the mound.
Why would the Red Sox let him go? Because team owner Harry Frazee needed funds to finance the ill-fated Broadway play No, No, Natette.
Thus, Frazee sold Ruth's contract to the New York Yankees, who were terrible but suddenly found their footing with the Babe on their side. They quickly became the most ferocious franchise in baseball, winning four championships from 1923-1932.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, were cursed by the humiliating move until the planets realigned in 2004.
Though they're rare, Major League Baseball has seen more manager-for-player trades than you'd think.
Ozzie Guillen (2011), Lou Piniella (2002), Chuck Tanner (1976) and Gil Hodges (1967) are among the MLB managers who have been traded for players, according to MentalFloss.com, but the most recent instance took place just this offseason.
The Red Sox were clearly going nowhere under the abysmal leadership of Bobby Valentine, and they'd had their eyes on John Farrell as future manager material ever since he served as Terry Francona's pitching coach.
So Boston did what it had to do: It shipped infielder Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays in exchange for the manager, and so far, the move has paid off: The Sox are in first place in the AL East.
Players being traded for managers is one thing. One manager being swapped for another manager midseason, however, is another thing entirely.
That's probably why it's only happened once.
In August 1960, the Cleveland Indians sent manager Jimmy Dykes to Detroit in exchange for Tigers manager Joe Gordon. Both guys had sub-.500 records at the time of the trade, and both guys finished their seasons with each others' teams under .500.
So, apparently, that move really paid off.
He's a headcase, he's a clubhouse cancer, he's an enigma—say whatever you want about Randy Moss, but he once was one of the greatest wide receivers the NFL had ever seen, and when the New England Patriots snagged him in 2007, it was pretty much a robbery.
Pre-2007, Moss had been an up-and-down guy. When he stayed focused, his on-the-field performance was electrifying; in his first six seasons in the league, he registered 1,200 yards or more and double-digit touchdowns every season except for one.
Off the field, he was a wild card, but the Patriots were willing to risk the trouble in order to give Tom Brady a high-octane weapon in his wide receiving corps.
Considering what little risk it took for the Patriots to make the move, it's easy to see why they did: All they had to give up was a fourth-round draft pick—for one of the best receivers in football.
Depending on whom you ask, the move paid off: New England went undefeated through the regular season in 2007 and set a plethora of offensive records. They didn't, however, win the Big One, and they finished the season a haunting 18-1.
When you trade a guy for one dollar, the expectation is he's going to be kind of a throwaway player. Little did the Detroit Red Wings know that they'd be getting a fixture of their rotation for such a bargain.
Detroit acquired Draper in 1993 from the Winnipeg Jets, who saw him as a mere prospect without enough potential to become an NHL fixture. Originally, the Jets agreed to part with Draper for future considerations, and when Draper was finally called up, it was time to finalize the deal so that he could play.
According to Fox Sports, the Jets just said, "Give us a dollar." So the Red Wings did, and Draper went on to become one of just five players to play over 1,000 games for Detroit.
Who knew that on the day of the trade deadline in 1997, the Red Sox would get two of the critical pieces of their future World Series teams for such a mediocre pitcher?
When the '97 trade deadline rolled around, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe were mere prospects within the Seattle Mariners organization, and they were shipped to Boston in exchange for reliever Heath Slocumb.
In six seasons pre-1997, Slocumb had a .553 overall winning percentage with a .350 record. Post-1997, his ERA would rarely be that low ever again, and he would find himself unable to secure a permanent home, jumping from the Mariners to the Baltimore Orioles to the St. Louis Cardinals to the San Diego Padres.
Varitek, meanwhile, would become Boston's captain, leading them to championships in 2004 and 2007 and becoming one of the most consistent catchers in baseball. Lowe was far from consistent, but during Boston's '04 championship run, he was the winning pitcher in both Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 4 of the World Series.
In 1948, the Brooklyn Dodgers traded a decent catcher for a Hall of Fame broadcaster. At least they had their priorities straight.
At the time, Harwell was under contract as an Atlanta Crackers broadcaster, but Brooklyn wanted to bring him to replace Red Barber, who had been hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. Atlanta's owner, however, wanted to get something out of the deal if he was going to allow Harwell to break his contract.
So the Dodgers settled the debt by sending Dapper—who played eight games for them, posting a .471 average—to Atlanta. Harwell would remain with the team through 1949, and the trade ended up being a good one for Brooklyn because Dapper ended up being a non-factor anyway.
Pedro Martinez began his career with the L.A. Dodgers, who apparently had no idea that he would develop into one of the most coveted aces in baseball. At the time, Martinez was used exclusively in relief.
Prior to the 1994 season, when the Dodgers found themselves in need of a second baseman, they were willing to part ways with the unproven Martinez, sending him to Montreal in exchange for Delino DeShields.
DeShields, pre-1994, was a career .277 hitter. Post-1994, he was a career .263 hitter who would only last three seasons in L.A. Martinez, meanwhile, would become an eight-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a World Series champion with the Red Sox in 2004.
In defense of the Milwaukee Brewers, Tim Fortugno wasn't really that good. So they had to get creative when it was time to trade him.
Fortugno played for three years, compiling a career record of 3-4 with a 5.06 ERA. The thing he's most well-known for is giving up George Brett's 3,000th career hit. The Brewers are lucky they got anything for him.
The Philadelphia 76ers may have pulled of a coup when they managed to acquire Dr. J from the Nets, but they also are the team that traded Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
Chamberlain—a two-time NBA champion, 13-time All-Star and consensus most dominant player ever—may have been past his prime, but if you're going to trade a player of his caliber, you best be getting something mildly decent in return.
And the Sixers got Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff from the Lakers. Chamberlain continued to be a rebounding machine and defensive mastermind, while those three players could only be described as mediocre at best—at the very best.
The phenomenon of a player being traded for a player to be named later—and then going back to his original team as the aforementioned player to be named later—happens more often than you'd think.
According to The MLB Nation, it has happened four times, but the most recent such trade happened in July 2005.
The Toronto Blue Jays shipped utility man John McDonald to Detroit for future considerations. Then, four months later, Detroit sent McDonald right on back to Toronto for cash considerations.
Hence, he was traded for himself. Just call it a rental.
There is no way this can technically qualify as a trade. If it's a trade, don't you have to receive at least something in return? Like a dollar? Or a penny?
Apparently not. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro decided that minor league pitcher Mike Cisco was worth nothing. Literally. So he sent him to the L.A. Angels for "no compensation."
It's not like Cisco was terrible or anything. He's been in the minors since 2008, and most recently, mostly in Double- and Triple-A. In 2012, he maintained a 1.80 ERA all season. That has to be worth something.
And in any case, at least the Angels got a good deal, no matter what.
In the olden days, teams were far more creative when it came to forming trade agreements. Anything was fair game—dinners, players, managers, equipment, and even fence repairs.
In 1919, Lefty Grove was an unknown talent who was just starting to make a splash with the Martinsburg Mountaineers of the Class C Blue Ridge League. After he threw 60 strikeouts in 59 innings, though, people knew who he was—including Baltimore Orioles owner Jack Dunn, who had to have the latest and greatest pitching phenom as a member of his own organization.
Dunn offered to pay for an outfield fence in Martinsburg that had been destroyed in exchange for Grove, for a value of about $3,500. Somehow, it worked.