Imagine if the Marlins had held onto Miguel Cabrera...
We take this opportunity to remind MLB executives how much they may come to regret pulling the trigger on a trade at the 2013 deadline. To varying extents, every team has had great financial and psychological difficulty overcoming the worst player swap in its history.
Naturally, the first question to pop into your head should be, "What constitutes a bad trade?"
A team moving sources of extraordinary current/future production for ones who provide substantially less, thanks for asking.
In several of the following examples, receiving excellent talent in return didn't remedy the situation, because those players weren't retained long-term. We've seen catastrophic mistakes made with prospects, impending free agents and everybody in between.
For fans, the takeaway message is don't rush to judgement. It took years for many of these deals to take a tragic twist.
No matter how one-sided the immediate analysis is by experts on Bleacher Report and elsewhere, you just never know how a transaction will play out.
Carlos Quentin tearing up his former team.
Trade date: December 3, 2007
Chicago White Sox: Carlos Quentin
Quentin's first season in Chicago ended a month premature because of a fractured wrist. Otherwise, he had a great chance at American League MVP honors (36 HR, .965 OPS).
The slugging outfielder has never been healthy to play from April through September, but his production in between DL stints compensates for the missed time.
Few players in today's game combine power with decent contact skills as well as Quentin. His right-handed swing has produced 135 home runs in six seasons since leaving the desert.
Arizona Diamondbacks get: Chris Carter
He spent a grand total of 11 days in the D-Backs organization before being lumped together with Carlos Gonzalez and other top prospects in a trade for Dan Haren. That swap received serious consideration for inclusion, but Haren largely offset the loss of talent by dominating during 2007 and 2008.
Even keeping Carter would not have made up for losing Quentin. His fielding is worse, and there are much more swings-and-misses in his game.
Trade date: July 31, 2007
Texas Rangers get: Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Jones is the only one in this quintet that didn't go on to become a significant MLB player.
Andrus, now the richest of the group, cracked the 2009 Opening Day lineup at just 20 years of age. He has since proven to be an ultra-durable shortstop with elite defensive skills, great instincts and—prior to 2013, at least—a respectable bat.
The Rangers converted Feliz into a closer and looked like geniuses for doing so when the right-hander was named 2010 American League Rookie of the Year. He became an integral member of that team and the 2011 edition, both of which made it to the World Series.
Although Feliz underwent Tommy John surgery and has been slow to recover, his future is extremely bright at age 25.
The southpaw Harrison is still in the organization too. After a breakout season in 2011 (3.39 ERA in 185.2 IP), he proved himself to be a legitimate frontline starter last summer. The 27-year-old is in his final stages of rehab following back surgery.
Salatalamacchia, a switch-hitting catcher, provides great power behind the plate (now for the Boston Red Sox). He'll likely have a choice of multi-year contract offers this winter in free agency.
Atlanta Braves get: Ron Mahay and Mark Teixeira
The All-Star-caliber, Gold Glove-winning first baseman made the most of his time in Atlanta, slashing .295/.395/.548 with 37 home runs in 157 games.
However, the Braves were most concerned with returning to the postseason, and Teixeira couldn't lead them there in 2007 or 2008. His year of production brought lots of excitement to the organization, but that alone failed to justify mortgaging the future.
Mahay, by the way, provided 28 innings of solid relief in '07.
Curt Schilling in the 2007 playoffs as a member of the rival Boston Red Sox.
Trade date: January 10, 1991
Houston Astros get: Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling
The Astros didn't have enough sense to integrate Schilling into their starting rotation.
He finally got that opportunity with the 1992 Philadelphia Phillies and never looked back.
The tall right-hander enjoyed three seasons of at least 300 strikeouts and just as many runner-up finishes in Cy Young Award voting. His lifetime 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in baseball's modern era (since 1900).
Above all, Schilling had extraordinary success in October. He came up huge during World Series runs with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007), as evidenced by his 2.23 earned run average in 19 postseason starts.
Don't overlook Finley, a Gold Glove outfielder who morphed from a speedster into a formidable power threat in his 30s. Only five of his 304 home runs and 39 of his 320 stolen bases came before this trade. FanGraphs values his four-year stint in Houston at 14.9 WAR and his entire post-Baltimore Orioles career at 40.1 WAR.
Even Harnisch, the least accomplished of this trio, did plenty to fill the back of his baseball card. His first year in the Senior Circuit included an All-Star selection, as the right-hander held opposing batters to a .601 OPS.
He posted a sub-4.00 ERA six times during the 1990s.
Baltimore Orioles get: Glenn Davis
Davis was brought in for power after averaging 27 bombs per season from 1985-1990 at ages 24-29. The Orioles assumed they would get the same above-average production.
Instead, the first baseman suffered a nerve injury in his neck during spring training in 1991, which caused him to spend much of the year on the disabled list. Davis bounced back the next year with a career-best .277 batting average, but he played only 106 games and still disappointed in the power department.
Baltimore released him in September 1993 when he was slashing an anemic .177/.230/.230.
Trade date: January 3, 1920
New York Yankees get: Babe Ruth
The legend averaged 44 home runs and 132 runs batted in during his 15 seasons in the Bronx. He posted a gaudy .347/.494/.788 batting line in World Series play, leading the Yankees to seven pennants and four championships.
Ruth's unprecedented offensive production and larger-than-life persona attracted fans around the world. The most storied franchise in American professional sports owes so much to the Great Bambino.
Boston Red Sox get: $100,000
It's widely accepted that Red Sox owner Harry Frazier needed the money to finance his Broadway play, No, No, Nanette. Another possibility is that Ruth demanded a hefty raise and refused to take the field otherwise.
Neither version of the story helped Boston fans cope with losing a once-in-a-generation talent and enduring 86 seasons without a World Series title.
Lou Brock at the Hall of Fame inductions.
Trade date: June 15, 1964
St. Louis Cardinals get: Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth
During parts of four seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Brock only slashed .257/.306/.383 with ordinary outfield defense. Although he showed some talent for stealing bases, he didn't do so with great efficiency.
At the 1964 midseason trade deadline (yes, it used to be June 15), the 25-year-old went to the Cardinals, who were actually behind the Cubs in the standings.
Not for long.
Brock may have been the best player in the Senior Circuit during the last three-and-a-half months on that campaign (12 HR, 33 SB, .915 OPS). More importantly, St. Louis won the World Series, as Brock homered in the deciding Game 7 to pad the lead.
He spent 16 seasons there and brought home another championship in 1967. The first-ballot Hall of Famer retired as baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases and came to the plate nearly 10,000 times for the Cards. To this day, he's in a very exclusive group of players to bat above .300 at age 40.
Spring and Toth spent most of the 1960s relieving in the minors, but Brock alone made the deal an absolute steal.
Chicago Cubs get: Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz
From first-hand experience, the Cubs thought the right-hander Broglio would be difficult to hit, but the league figured him out in 1965 and 1966. He issued more walks than strikeouts for Chicago before management banished him to the minors at age 30. Overall, sub-replacement-level quality.
Clemens initially looked like a major acquisition. He slashed .279/.363/.421 in 160 plate appearances for the Cubs in 1964. But those numbers didn't hold up when the team tried increasing his playing time.
Shantz, the most reputable player included in the transaction, failed the provide steady relief. He allowed nearly two baserunners per inning with a 5.56 earned run average, so the Cubs sold him after only two months.
A bigger, stronger Sammy Sosa became famous on the other side of town.
Trade date: March 30, 1992
Chicago Cubs get: Ken Patterson and Sammy Sosa
The 23-year-old Sosa already had 327 games of major league experience at this point, but the results weren't at all encouraging. He had slashed .228/.273/.376 with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox while striking out frequently.
Swings-and-misses forever remained an ugly part of his game, but Sosa punished pitchers whenever they gave him anything remotely hittable. He amassed 609 career home runs—580 after the 1992 trade—and for the foreseeable future, he'll remain the only major league player with 60-plus bombs in three separate seasons.
Sosa became one of the faces of the sport and brought plenty of attention, primarily positive, to the Cubs.
Patterson spent just one mediocre year with the franchise before disappearing from baseball (1.63 WHIP in 32 games).
Chicago White Sox get: George Bell
Although a steady source of power, Bell was definitely on the decline before the White Sox acquired him. He posted a .670 OPS in two seasons with them before retiring.
Trade date: December 15, 1900
New York Giants get: Christy Mathewson
We could rave for days about how dominant Mathewson was, but his awesomeness is simply summed up by his inclusion in the 1936 inaugural class of Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. Six decades of Major League Baseball had been played, yet he and Walter Johnson were the first two pitchers put into Cooperstown.
The Giants had him for parts of 17 seasons, during which time he tossed 434 complete games, 79 shutouts and issued only 1.6 free passes per nine innings. They participated in four World Series thanks to Mathewson, and he performed wonderfully in each of them.
Cincinnati Reds get: Amos Rusie
In hindsight, this swap appears ill-advised, but consider how much success Rusie experienced previously. The right-hander dominated during the 1890s with one of the deadliest fastballs of his era.
However, he hadn't pitched at the major level in 1899 or 1990, and the rust was obvious. Rusie coughed up 21 earned runs in 22 innings with the Reds and left the team in early June.
Rocky Colavito was always a fan favorite in Cleveland.
Trade date: April 17, 1960
Detroit Tigers get: Rocky Colavito
Colavito debuted in the majors in 1955, and from then through 1959, he owned the third-highest slugging percentage in the American League. There's no shame placing behind Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.
His four seasons spent in Detroit were more of the same. Collectively, the Tigers didn't perform very well, but Colavito averaged about 35 home runs from 1960-1963 and slashed .271/.364/.501.
During those years, the powerful outfielder led the team in total bases and runs batted in.
Cleveland Indians get: Harvey Kuenn
The Wisconsin native wasn't nearly as flashy or valuable overall. He came to Cleveland fresh off winning the 1959 AL batting title, but he struggled defensively and seldom cleared the fences.
Kuenn batted .308/.379/.416 in his only season with the Indians before they traded him away.
Without Colavito, the franchise went into a tailspin. He returned from 1965-1967, but with less of an all-around game.
The Tribe never finished better than third place in the AL/AL East standings from 1960 through 1993!
Trade date: July 13, 2001
Anaheim Angels get: Chone Figgins
After beginning his professional career out of high school, Figgins moved slowly through the farm system. When dealt in 2001, he was a 23-year-old adjusting to the nuances of second base at Double-A and slashing only .220/.306/.310.
Barely a year later, he would be coming off the bench in the big leagues for the eventual World Series champions.
Of Figgins' eight seasons in Anaheim, six were spent as an everyday player. He moved all over the diamond: lots of third base and center field, but also hundreds of innings at second base and left field, plus a couple dozen games at both shortstop and right.
Between 2004 and 2009, only Carl Crawford, Juan Pierre and Jose Reyes stole more bases than his 265. Figgins demonstrated better plate discipline than most guys, maintaining a .363 on-base percentage with L.A. and drawing more than 100 walks in his contract year.
Per FanGraphs, the one-time All-Star contributed 22.3 WAR to his new team (although pitiful postseason production). Overall, a very good and very affordable weapon.
Colorado Rockies get: Kimera Bartee
Bartee had been performing relatively well at the plate prior to the trade. Then again, he was a soon-to-be 29-year-old at Triple-A.
The Rockies recalled him to the majors immediately and started him in the outfield. He lasted only a couple more weeks as a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement.
With a .000/.158/.000 batting line in 15 games, Bartee went back down to the farm, leaving as a minor league free agent after the season.
John Smoltz blossomed into one of the game's elite pitchers.
Trade date: August 12, 1987
Atlanta Braves get: John Smoltz
The Braves called him up the following season, and he went through some predictable growing pains.
However, from 1989-1999, there weren't many better starting pitchers in the world. Smoltz learned how to fool hitters by the early 1900s and twice led the Senior Circuit in strikeouts. He won the 1996 NL Cy Young Award and nearly led Atlanta to a second straight championship with excellence that October.
Smoltz missed the entire 2000 season because of injury, but he was reborn as a shutdown closer. After four seasons in that role, he successfully shifted back into the rotation.
The stud right-hander lasted long enough to eclipse 3,000 career strikeouts. He's also the only pitcher in league history to total at least 200 wins and 150 saves.
Detroit Tigers get: Doyle Alexander
The journeyman was absolutely untouchable down the stretch in 1987, as evidenced by his 1.53 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 11 starts. But that's about where his usefulness ended.
Alexander choked in the postseason and didn't regain his top-of-the-rotation form the following two years. He retired in 1989, shortly after his 39th birthday.
Joe Morgan with current Reds skipper Dusty Baker.
Trade date: November 29, 1971
Cincinnati Reds get: Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and Joe Morgan
The Houston Astros probably didn't believe Morgan could continue getting better in his 30s. The combination of agility, instincts, plate discipline and glove work already made him one of the most valuable middle infielders in the league.
In reality, his time with the Reds (1972-1979) compared favorably to just about anybody else's production during those seasons. Morgan snagged five Gold Gloves in eight years while slashing .288/.415/.470 and stealing 406 bases. That translated to 57.2 fWAR.
Billingham also became an integral player on the Big Red Machine. He averaged more than 200 innings per summer from 1972-1977 while pitching to a 1.93 earned run average in the playoffs. If not for his stellar relief in Game 2 of the 1976 Fall Classic, that series might have turned out completely differently.
Of all these youngsters, Geronnimo actually had the longest stay in Cincinnati (until 1980). He excelled as a defensive center fielder, and his bat was potent enough to validate a starting job.
Menke was merely decent as the starting third baseman for two years, while Armbrister contributed at replacement level in the outfield for parts of five seasons.
Houston Astros get: Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart
The opportunity to insert May into the middle of their lineup motivated the Astros to pull the trigger on this deal. Although he racked up 81 homers and 288 RBI over three seasons, his impatience at the plate and suspect fielding lessened his overall impact.
Helms lasted in H-Town until 1975, slashing .269/.306/.348 at second base. At least he put plenty of balls in play.
Stewart basically served as a professional pinch-hitter. He was strangely consistent in that role for the Reds, but much less impressive after the trade (.535 OPS).
David Cone had greats stints with the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
Trade date: March 27, 1987
New York Mets get: David Cone and Chris Jelic
Jelic ultimately totaled 11 plate appearances, but Cone became integral to New York's success in the late 1980s.
He made a strong push for the 1988 NL Cy Young Award in his first full MLB season. The National League selected him for two All-Star squads with the Mets, and he led the league in strikeouts in two non-All-Star years.
The Royals got him back through free agency in 1993, but they obviously paid much more than they would've had he never left. After winning the 1994 AL Cy Young Award in K.C., he spent the next half-decade with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees (more competitive situations).
Cone individually pitched in 21 postseason games and won five World Series titles.
Kansas City Royals get: Rick Anderson, Mauro Gozzo and Ed Hearn
Anderson has had much more value in retirement as an innovative pitching coach. With the Royals, he contributed only 47 innings at a 6.89 earned run average.
Gozzo, a right-hander, didn't make it on the major league roster before being moved again.
Expectations were highest for Hearn, a then-26-year-old catcher. His nine hits in total 13 games obviously failed to equalize the trade.
Kansas City has the longest active playoff drought in baseball.
Trade date: December 2, 1990
Toronto Blue Jays get: Willie Fraser, Marcus Moore and Devon White
On the strength of his base-stealing and extraordinary defensive ability, White was among the best outfielders in baseball from 1991-1995. Too bad he didn't spend any of those years in Southern California.
White's value had bottomed out after a year in which he slashed .217/.290/.343. The California Angels figured they would rather ship him away than give him an opportunity to bounce back.
He celebrated championships with the Blue Jays and Florida Marlins and racked up 149 home runs and 223 stolen bases after leaving the Halos.
The trade was an enormous victory for Toronto, even though Fraser and Moore did nothing to help.
California Angels get: Junior Felix, Ken Rivers and Luis Sojo
Felix and Sojo spent two years apiece in L.A., neither performing much better than replacement level. They lacked plate discipline and athleticism.
Rivers called it a career after the 1991 minor league season.
Pedro Martinez pitching in the 2009 World Series.
Trade date: November 19, 1993
Montreal Expos get: Pedro Martinez
It didn't take an advanced scout to recognize that Martinez had the pure stuff to be one of the best pitchers of his generation. The only question was whether or not the right-hander could sustain a lengthy career in the starting rotation with such a slight physical build.
The Expos were convinced that he could.
Although his prime coincided with the heart of the Steroid Era, Martinez finished his career a sub-3.00 earned run average and approximately 10 strikeouts per nine innings. When adjusting for park factors and competition, he's definitively one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball history.
At the very end of his MLB journey, a pot-bellied, soon-to-be 38-year-old Martinez came into Dodger Stadium for Game 2 of the 2009 NLDS and fired seven scoreless innings (albeit in a losing effort).
Los Angeles Dodgers get: Delino DeShields
So, how were the Dodgers compensated for trading away a future first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Entering his age-25 campaign, DeShields already had more than 2,400 major league plate appearances, but his initial struggles in L.A. made that difficult to believe.
DeShields had a .531 OPS in April 1994 and finished the season slashing only .250/.357/.322. The next two years weren't much different—subtle improvement in 1995, a drop-off in 1996—and then he was gone.
Cameron Maybin nor any of the prospects Miami received made a major impact.
Trade date: December 4, 2007
Detroit Tigers get: Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis
First thing's first: The Tigers inked Miggy to a hefty contract extension. The eight-year, $153 million agreement doubled a franchise record for guaranteed money, buying out a handful of his free-agent seasons.
Up to that point, Cabrera had a .313/.388/.542 batting line, 143 OPS+ and average of 28 home runs per season. Not yet 25 years old and the Venezuelan third baseman was on a Hall of Fame-caliber pace.
Courtesy of FanGraphs, here is where Cabrera ranks in various statistical categories since his tenure in Motown began in 2008:
|2008-2013 Total||MLB Rank|
|Runs Batted In||1|
He's cruising toward his third consecutive batting title while making a strong case for back-to-back American League MVP honors. A fifth straight winning season seems imminent, as does another playoff berth for the 2012 AL champs.
Money well spent.
The Tigers front office likes to sweep Willis' struggles and contract under the rug, but it was really humiliating at the time. They paid him nearly $29 million from 2008-2010 to pitch below replacement level. The erratic left-hander battled through a hyper-extended knee, forearm tightness, an anxiety disorder and sinus infection in his forgettable stint with the team. All in all, he issued 92 walks in 101 innings, contributing to a 6.86 ERA.
And yet, the Tigers don't regret the acquisition one bit.
Florida Marlins get: Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo and Dallas Trahern
De La Cruz was Willis-like in the six horrific innings he pitched for the '08 Marlins before leaving the organization. Trahern never figured out the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) and hasn't pitched professionally since 2011. The switch-hitting Rabelo spent one mediocre summer as Florida's backup catcher, slashing .202/.256/.294.
That half of the package literally made the team worse.
Maybin and Miller occasionally showed flashes of greatness to justify why they were former first-round draft picks. However, the Fish weren't patient enough, and those players went on to establish themselves with the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, respectively.
At least Badenhop contributed a couple wins while in South Florida. His 151 appearances from 2008-2011 was third-most on the team.
Trade date: July 31, 1996
San Diego Padres get: Gerald Parent and Greg Vaughn
Vaughn took a couple years to adjust to San Diego, then carried the Padres to the World Series in 1998. He slashed .272/.363/.597 with 50 home runs and finished fourth in National League MVP voting.
The veteran outfielder slowed down from there, but he squeezed out three more solid power years from 1999-2001 with the Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
This could have been even more lopsided if Parent actually reached the big leagues.
Milwaukee Brewers get: Bryce Florie, Marc Newfield and Ron Villone
Florie's 94 innings for Milwaukee were extremely forgettable (1.59 WHIP), and the same could be said about Villone, who had comparable control problems.
Newfield had the potential to balance the trade, but he only slashed .259/.319/.379. The former first-round draft pick was relegated to pinch-hitting duty by the second half of 1998, his final major league season.
Johan Santana had a brilliant Twins career.
Trade date: February 2, 2008
New York Mets get: Johan Santana
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner had three more superb seasons before shoulder problems slowed him down. Amid an inconsistent 2012 season, he lifted everybody's spirits with a gritty no-hitter.
Santana was only heading into his age-29 campaign and coming off a dominant half-decade (30 fWAR from 2003-2007). The Minnesota Twins should not have settled for anything less than a franchise-fixing package.
Minnesota Twins get: Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey
You've probably never heard of Guerra or Mulvey. Despite rave reviews from scouts, neither has come close to resembling an adequate major league pitcher.
Humber had a couple cups of coffee with the Twins, but he then entered the journeyman phase of his career. His brief run of success came with the rival Chicago White Sox.
In terms of overall production, Gomez has been the best player involved in this blockbuster. Considering the whole Ryan Braun mess in Milwaukee, the dynamic center fielder may rise to face-of-the-franchise status.
Minnesota just wasn't patient enough with him. From ages 22-23, he slashed .248/.293/.352 and struck out 214 times in 963 plate appearances.
The Mets moved Nolan Ryan before he realized his full potential.
Trade date: December 10, 1971
California Angels get: Frank Estrada, Don Rose, Nolan Ryan and Leroy Stanton
In an interview with the Kult of Mets Personalities, Ryan himself debunks the rumor that he requested this trade out of the Big Apple. It was a front-office decision, and the famous flamethrower immediately made them sorry.
He tossed a complete-game shutout in his first start of the 1972 season. In eight years spent out West, he totaled 40 such feats and perennially led the American League in strikeouts.
Few players in history have matched Ryan's longevity (pitched until age 46). Although the all-time strikeout leader never developed great command, he was a top AL Cy Young Award candidate numerous times on the strength of his .204 career batting average against.
Estrada and Rose didn't really amount to anything, but Stanton had a few strong campaigns as an outfielder with the Angels and Seattle Mariners.
New York Mets get: Jim Fregosi
Fregosi, a six-time All-Star, turned 30 just prior to debuting for the Mets.
He turned out to be an expensive waste of space. The team desperately needed an impact bat, but he only launched five home runs in 526 plate appearances. The longtime shortstop also had trouble adapting to the hot corner.
The Mets cut their losses by selling him to the Texas Rangers in July 1973 and rallied to the clinch the National League pennant a few months later.
Trade date: December 9, 1982
Toronto Blue Jays get: Dave Collins, Fred McGriff, Mike Morgan and cash
A 19-year-old first baseman with less than 100 professional games under his belt, McGriff was a total unknown when this trade was completed. He struck out too often at rookie ball and didn't hit for huge power.
That would eventually change.
The Jays integrated his left-handed swing into their lineup in 1987, and he smashed 20 home runs in only 356 plate appearances. McGriff went deep an average of 35 times from 1988-1990, his first three complete major league seasons.
The overachieving ninth-round draft pick changed uniforms often through trades and free agency, but he thrived in every environment. He finished with a career .284/.377/.509 batting line, including an .872 OPS against the New York Yankees.
The right-hander Morgan also came back to bite the Yankees. He silenced their bats in three appearances as an Arizona Diamondbacks reliever during the 2001 World Series. Beyond that, he threw 200-plus innings in six separate seasons (lifetime 97 ERA+).
After a forgettable year in the Bronx, Collins averaged 37 stolen bases per summer from 1983-1986 while slashing .276/.339/.364 (.253/.315/.330 with Yankees).
New York Yankees get: Tom Dodd and Dale Murray
Murray's success north of the border did not translate. Opponents batted .301 against him in parts of three seasons with the Yankees. The right-hander actually looked competent early in 1984, but he missed more than three months due to injury and posted a 7.71 ERA in August and September.
Dodd participated in just eight random contests with the '86 Baltimore Orioles.
Trade date: July 30, 1910
Cleveland Naps get: "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Morrie Rath
Jackson performed poorly during 10 major league games in 1908 and 1909, but everything clicked for him in Cleveland. He posted a 1.032 OPS in limited playing time as a 23-year-old, then improbably maintained that level of production once slotted into the starting lineup regularly.
Although better known for his time with Chicago White Sox, Shoeless Joe emerged as one of baseball's best hitters with the Naps (renamed Indians in 1915). He spent the majority of his career with the club and slashed .375/.441/.542, twice leading the American League in hits.
Every general manager dreams of getting that kind of production from a "player to be named later."
Rath manned third base for the final couple months of the 1910 season, but he didn't hit nearly as well (.538 OPS). He went down to the minor leagues and moved to the White Sox the next year via the Rule V draft.
Philadelphia Athletics get: Bris Lord
This was a homecoming for the outfielder, who began his career with the A's and grew up in Pennsylvania.
Lord helped them reach the 1910 and 1911 World Series, but he came up small during his biggest moments in October. He slashed .238/.309/.317 in 1912 and found himself traded to Double-A Baltimore (minor leagues were unaffiliated with MLB back then).
Ferguson Jenkins throwing out a first pitch during the 2010 World Series.
Trade date: April 21, 1966
Chicago Cubs get: John Herrnstein, Ferguson Jenkins and Adolfo Phillips
Jenkins had appeared in just eight major league games before this trade was made early in the 1966 season.
When Cooperstown came calling a quarter-century later, he had 664 appearances—including nearly 600 starts—and more than 3,000 career strikeouts.
The right-hander spent parts of 10 seasons with the Cubbies and made a habit out of torturing the organization that originally signed him. He owned a 2.39 ERA against the Philadelphia Phillies with a stunning 0.94 WHIP and five times as many strikeouts as walks.
Although Jenkins allowed a few too many home runs, he did win the 1971 NL Cy Young Award. He also enjoyed a handful of solid seasons with the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox to solidify his Hall of Fame credentials.
Philips had a breakout season for the 1966 Cubs, totaling 16 home runs and 32 stolen bases with a .800 OPS. He performed even better in 1967 before an abrupt decline.
Herrnstein, the throw-in outfielder/first baseman, lasted barely a month in the Windy City (.476 OPS in 20 PA).
Philadelphia Phillies get: Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson
Already a few seasons removed from being a respectable starting pitcher, Buhl didn't exactly give the Phillies a veteran boost. They actually relegated him to the bullpen in August 1966 to make him less of a liability down the stretch, but the damage had already been done.
Buhl retired in April 1967.
On the other hand, Jackson noticeably bolstered the rotation from 1966-1968. He pitched more than 750 innings with Phillies and posted a 2.95 ERA. Not quite Jenkins-caliber dominance, but pretty close.
Too bad the right-hander was already in his mid-30s. He called it quits a year after Buhl.
Willie Randolph followed his successful playing career with several coaching gigs.
Trade date: December 11, 1975
New York Yankees get: Ken Brett, Dock Ellis and Willie Randolph
Randolph spent his entire life in the Big Apple before being drafted in 1972, so he was understandably excited about this exchange.
The second baseman only homered 54 times in the big leagues—48 times with the Yankees—yet he excelled in all other facets of the game to become an important player.
He drew nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts and stole 30-plus bases in four separate seasons. Also, the six-time All-Star is probably the best defender never to win a Gold Glove.
Brett pitched in just two relief appearances before New York flipped him to the Chicago White Sox, while Ellis—that wacky starter who previously threw a no-hitter on LSD—started 35 games in the Bronx. He actually pitched fairly well (114 ERA+ in 231.1 IP).
Pittsburgh Pirates: Doc Medich
Only one year of Medich certainly wasn't worth losing the next 17 seasons of Randolph.
The right-hander totaled more strikeouts than Ellis, but his league-adjusted 99 ERA+ paled in comparison.
Trade date: December 10, 1981
St. Louis Cardinals get: Steve Mura, Al Olmsted and Ozzie Smith
Smith always distinguished himself from other shortstops with fantastic defensive skills, but he initially struggled to make solid contact at the plate. The San Diego Padres didn't know if he would continue reaching base often enough to utilize his speed on the base paths.
Smith's numbers jumped immediately with the change of scenery, and by the mid-1980s, he became an excellent No. 2 hitter.
He took St. Louis to the World Series four times, winning it in 1982. Nearly 92 percent of Hall of Fame voters supported him in his first year on the ballot.
Mura and Olmsted, both starting pitchers, had minimal influence on the franchise.
San Diego Padres get: Luis DeLeon, Sixto Lezcano and Garry Templeton
The switch-hitting Templeton was obviously the centerpiece from San Diego's perspective. He tried to fill Smith's shoes at shortstop, but didn't come close to matching his effectiveness.
Lacking patience at the plate and instincts as a baserunner, he only started due to the absence of suitable alternatives. Templeton had a 77 OPS+ in 1,286 contests with the Padres.
Lezcano put up a .860 OPS before quickly regressing, while DeLeon enjoyed two great years in the bullpen.
Trade date: May 29, 1971
Cincinnati Reds: George Foster
Exactly six months prior to the Joe Morgan theft, Cincinnati picked up an unestablished outfielder and groomed him into an elite slugger.
Foster came about a dozen hits away from the NL Triple Crown in 1977, when he hammered 52 home runs and 149 runs batted it. That effort earned him MVP honors.
All in all, he stayed with the Reds for 11 years and maintained a .286/.356/.514 batting line. From 1982-1986, Foster pounded out another 100 long balls with the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox.
San Francisco Giants get: Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert
A bucket of balls would have been more significant than this duo.
Duffy went 5-for-28 in his brief Giants career, while Geishert never even pitched for the organization.
Derek Lowe celebrating the 2004 American League championship with the Red Sox.
Trade date: July 31, 1997
Boston Red Sox get: Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek
Age made Lowe and Varitek unattractive prospects. At the time of this deadline deal, they were 24 and 25, respectively, and totally unestablished at the major league level.
By 1999, Lowe was already a great closer for the Red Sox. The right-hander completed the transition to full-time starter in 2002 and enjoyed immediate success: an American League All-Star selection and third-place finish in AL Cy Young Award voting.
To clinch Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, Lowe tossed seven scoreless innings. He left Beantown as a free agent the following winter, but found work with five other teams. His 10 consecutive seasons of at least 180 innings pitched attest to his durability.
Varitek, on the other hand, spent his entire career with the Red Sox, catching nearly 1,500 games. He retired with more than 500 extra-base hits, a .776 career OPS, 24.3 WAR and two championship rings.
The longtime team captain has the distinction of being the only backstop in history to be behind the plate for four no-hitters.
Seattle Mariners get: Heathcliff Slocumb
The hard-throwing right-hander battled control problems for his entire career, especially with the M's.
Slocumb threw 96 innings out of the bullpen during his year-and-a-half with them, issuing 59 walks and firing 14 wild pitches. By comparison, Greg Maddux walked 53 batters during that same stretch (August 1997 through end of 1998 regular season). Of course, that was over the course of 351 innings.
Perhaps Slocumb could have still been a serviceable reliever if he minimized the number of balls in play. Unfortunately for Seattle, the opposition batted .265 against him during his unsuccessful tenure with the club.
Steve Carlton can still bring it.
Trade date: February 25, 1972
Philadelphia Phillies get: Steve Carlton
Carlton had a handful of great years for the St. Louis Cardinals. They regrettably dealt the southpaw a few months before he reached superstardom.
In 1972, he led the National League in virtually every statistic: wins, earned run average, innings pitched, strikeouts, complete games and wins above replacement. The Phillies frankly stunk when he joined the rotation, but they developed into a playoff team by the mid-1970s and captured the 1980 World Series title behind one of his four Cy Young Award-winning efforts.
Nearly 4,000 of Carlton's career innings came after the move, as did 3,185 of his strikeouts. Erase his stint in St. Louis and he's still a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
St. Louis Cardinals get: Rick Wise
Wise turned out to be more of a mid-rotation guy. He lacked the elite stuff to generate swings-and-misses.
Although he totaled 528 solid innings for the Cardinals from 1972-1973, they weren't motivated to retain him long-term.
Trade date: November 18, 1997
Philadelphia Phillies get: Bobby Abreu
The Venezuelan outfielder played in parts of two seasons with the Houston Astros before being taken by the newly created Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the expansion draft. That same day, Tampa Bay flipped Abreu for Kevin Stocker, a more established position player.
Abreu went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career. He played 150-plus games every season from 1998-2010 and perennially ranked among the league leaders in on-base percentage. His great approach with runners in scoring position resulted in a .312/.433/.510 batting line in such situations.
During their first five years of existence, the Devil Rays averaged 98 losses per year. Only one of their players had a .300 batting average in any of those seasons while qualifying for the batting title (Fred McGriff, 1999).
In that same span, Abreu single-handedly accomplished the feat four times.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays get: Kevin Stocker
Stocker never had a great season prior to arriving, and he never had one with Tampa Bay either.
He was a pesky switch-hitting shortstop who didn't do much damage from either side of the plate. Playing for the Devil Rays from ages 28-30, he batted .250/.329/.347 with nine home runs.
Fed up with Stocker's ugly fielding percentage in 2000, the team released him in late May.
Trade date: December 14, 1960
Los Angeles Angels get: Dean Chance
Another one of those expansion boo-boos.
Prior to the opening season, the Washington Senators moved the 19-year-old right-hander for somebody who could contribute right away.
Chance only debuted in late 1961, but he then grew up quickly. He contended for 1962 AL Rookie of the Year when splitting the season between the bullpen and starting rotation (2.96 ERA in 206.2 IP). By 1964, he was an All-Star and Cy Young Award winner thanks to a stellar 200 ERA+.
His 11 MLB seasons produced 37.0 fWAR and more than 1,500 strikeouts.
Washington Senators get: Joe Hicks
Hicks wasn't even good enough to start in the Senators outfield. He put up a .630 OPS across two seasons.
Michael Young became a franchise centerpiece in Texas.
Trade date: July 19, 2000
Texas Rangers get: Darwin Cubillan and Michael Young
Young rose up through the farm system in September and gained a significant role the following season.
He moved all around the infield during his Rangers career, but his bat rarely slumped. In parts of 13 seasons with the team, he slashed .301/.347/.444, and his numbers in 2013 have been pretty similar.
In 2005 and 2011, Young led the American League in hits. He's been selected for seven All-Star teams and has never spent time on the disabled list.
A subpar reliever, Cubillan came and went without much attention.
Toronto Blue Jays get: Esteban Loaiza
The second half of Loaiza's age-28 season was quite strong. The right-hander started 14 games for Toronto and logged 92 innings with a 141 ERA+.
Sadly, it was all downhill from there.
Opposing batters slashed .308/.348/.480 against him the next two years, and the Blue Jays continued to finish below the .500 mark.
Randy Johnson celebrating his 300th career win. Only three came with the Expos/Nationals franchise.
Trade date: May 25, 1989
Seattle Mariners get: Gene Harris, Brian Holman and Randy Johnson
Seattle was patient with the Big Unit. He led the majors in walks each season from 1990-1992, and that wildness prevented him from working deep into games.
Eventually, Johnson got his 6'10" body under control and spent the next decade-and-a-half showing he belonged in the "best left-hander in MLB history" discussion.
He won the 1995 American League Cy Young Award for the Mariners and came awfully close in several other seasons with them.
A return to the Senior Circuit in 1998 brought the best out of him. After a short-but-sweet stint with the Houston Astros, Johnson joined the Arizona Diamondbacks and filled up his mantle with four NL Cy Young Awards. He even stuck around until age 46 to reach the 300-win milestone.
Countless pitchers to follow him have tried to emulate his famous fastball-slider combo.
Harris, a right-handed reliever, didn't do anything worth remembering, but Holman enjoyed a few decent years alongside Johnson in Seattle's rotation. He came within one out of a perfect game in 1990. Injury, unfortunately, forced him into an early retirement.
Montreal Expos get: Mike Campbell and Mark Langston
Langston had made himself a household name as a top-of-the-rotation workhorse. The Mariners only moved him because he was an impending free agent due for a contract that they couldn't offer.
The southpaw did everything in his power to get Montreal into the 1989 playoffs: 2.39 ERA, 6 CG, 175 K in 176.2 IP. It simply wasn't enough.
Campbell, a 25-year-old throw-in, never pitched for the Expos. He spent most of his pro career at Triple-A.