Ranking the Biggest MLB Waiver Trades of All Time

Brandon CroceAnalyst IAugust 2, 2013

Ranking the Biggest MLB Waiver Trades of All Time

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    Even though the non-waiver trade deadline passed earlier this week, general managers are still busy finding ways to improve their chances in their respective playoff races. However, making a move after the July 31 deadline is much more complicated with the added hurdle of players clearing waivers.

    Even though it is not easy, it does not mean that there have not been some big trades in the month of August. Last year is a perfect example, with Boston sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to L.A. as part of a nine-player trade. 

    This is a list of the seven biggest trades made after the non-waiver trade deadline.

     

7. Jose Bautista Sent North of the Border (Aug. 21, 2008)

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    In 2008, this trade did not receive much coverage because, at the time, Jose Bautista was a struggling third baseman for Pittsburgh—one who was optioned to Triple-A earlier in the month. He was sent down to the minors because he had lost his spot to Andy LaRoche, who was acquired in a trade earlier in the season.

    Needless to say, this was a great move by Toronto, which gave up Robinson Diaz in the trade. Diaz has not played in the majors since 2009 and has only one career home run. 

    Bautista, on the other hand, has hit 165 home runs over his six years with Toronto. He also has four All-Star appearances and finished in the top four of the MVP voting twice. 

    This trade didn't have playoff implications, but it is one of the better moves because of the talent Jose Bautista has shown in Toronto.

6. Jose Canseco Is Traded to the Texas Rangers (Aug. 31, 1992)

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    The trade of Jose Canseco to Texas has to be the riskiest and boldest trade on this list. This Sports Illustrated article by Leigh Montville from 1992 explains the surprise many felt, including Jose Canseco.

    At the time of this trade, Oakland had a seven-game lead in its division and looked to be heading for another postseason appearance. This was one of the reasons many were skeptical of the move and why Oakland felt the need to shake things up. 

    The Rangers sent slugger Ruben Sierra, and pitchers Bobby Witt and Jeff Russell to Oakland. All three played key roles down the stretch for Oakland, but it wasn't enough to get past the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs.

5. Boston and LA Dodgers Pull off a Mega-Deal (Aug. 25, 2012)

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    In terms of number of players, this was one of the biggest waiver trades in the history of Major League Baseball. However, it is only No. 5 on this list because it did not propel either team into the playoffs.

    It was clear this trade was a salary dump for the Red Sox when they only wanted James Loney and four minor league players for former All-Stars Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett.

    The Dodgers, on the other hand, were hoping these players could help catch the San Francisco Giants last year, which did not happen. This trade, though, has been one of the reasons the Dodgers are now leading the NL West. 

    Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the team's most consistent hitters with his .299 batting average, 15 home runs and 65 RBI. 

4. Rockies Trade Larry Walker to the Cardinals (Aug. 7, 2004)

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    Toward the end of Larry Walker's career, he wanted to play for a contender and have a chance to win a World Series. That opportunity came in 2004 when Colorado traded the outfielder to St. Louis for three minor leaguers.

    He ended up nearly achieving his dream a few months after the August trade when the Cardinals fell in the World Series to the Boston Red Sox. He contributed the entire postseason by hitting six home runs and 11 RBI over the three series.

3. New York Mets Trade David Cone to Toronto (Aug. 27, 1992)

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    This has to be one of the bigger waiver-wire trades in MLB history in terms of the caliber of the player and the impact on the remainder of the season. In the clip, it is mentioned that David Cone is one of the top five or six pitchers in the game at that time.

    This trade took place on Aug. 27, 1992, and Cone finished out the regular season going 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA. He continued to pitch well in the postseason, giving up eight earned runs over four starts. The Blue Jays went on to beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series and capture the first of back-to-back World Series titles.

    Even though the Mets didn't have the postseason success that Toronto did, they did get rookie Jeff Kent, along with Ryan Thompson, who played five years in New York. He had a batting average of .279 with 67 home runs and 267 RBI.

2. Boston Sends Jeff Bagwell to Houston (Aug. 30, 1990)

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    This trade is not only one of the biggest MLB waiver trades of all time, it is also one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the game. The Red Sox needed bullpen help during the 1990 season and made a trade for relief pitcher Larry Andersen.

    In return, Boston sent a third base prospect named Jeff Bagwell to Houston.

    The trade made sense, and Andersen pitched well for the Red Sox, giving up only three earned runs over 22 innings. Boston also went on to win its division that year but gave up a prospect who would go on to be one of the greatest players in Houston's history.

    Bagwell went on to win Rookie of the Year in 1991, the National League MVP award in 1994, and make four All-Star teams over his 15-year career. He had a career batting average of .297 with Houston as well as 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI.

1. Detroit Trades John Smoltz to Atlanta (Aug. 12, 1987)

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    During the 1987 season, the Detroit Tigers were fighting for a division title and felt they needed more pitching. The Tigers decided to swing a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent Doyle Alexander to Detroit and a 20-year-old minor league pitcher named John Smoltz to Atlanta

    Down the stretch for the Tigers, Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA. He was a big reason they won the division that year. However, Alexander was toward the end of his career and only pitched two more seasons after 1987.

    Smoltz, on the other hand, went on to pitch 20 seasons for the Braves and has put together an impressive career. He won a World Series title in 1995, a Cy Young Award in 1996, and is the only pitcher in the history of the sport with 200 wins and 150 saves.

    This trade is a perfect example of what a waiver trade should be. The Tigers saw immediate rewards from the trade, as Alexander played a major role for the remainder of the season.

    The Braves, on the other hand, built for the long term by receiving a top-notch prospect. This is the reason that this trade is the biggest MLB waiver trade of all time.