The Most Lopsided MLB Trades of the Last Five Years
I enjoy looking back at lopsided trades—they are some of my favorite stories to read. However, there are only so many of them, and only so many of them are crooked to the point of comedy. So, I decided to look forward for new material.
It may be too early to proclaim some of these steals, but that won’t stop me. I don’t claim to have covered everything, but I do think I have some pretty good examples.
So, I present: The Most Lopsided MLB Trades in the Last Five Years (in no particular order).
(Stats credit to Baseball Reference.)
Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot (to the Rays) for Aubrey Huff (to the Astros)
This is the one that got me interested when I found out about it. It brings up a theme that will recur throughout this report: How much is part of a season worth? In this case, not enough.
Huff was good in his half a year in Houston, with 13 home runs, a .250 average, and a 107 OPS+ for an ultimately doomed Astros team. Zobrist, however, has been better.
He can play anywhere but pitcher and catcher (so far, that is...), providing versatility. Last year, in only 62 games, he hit 12 homers, batted .253, slugged .505, and had an OPS+ of 118.
He’s already up to 59 games this season and has a line of .310/14/39, with an OPS of 1.098 and an OPS+ of 180. He's also leading the league in slugging percentage.
I’d say that outweighs a good half-season from Huff.
Scott Kazmir (Rays) for Victor Zambrano (Mets)
This one’s already infamous. What most people don’t know, though, is the Mets got another player. However, that player was Bartolome Fortunato, so yes, Mets fans, it was a complete bust.
Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton (A’s) for Mark Mulder (Cardinals)
As a Cardinals fan, this one hurts. Mulder started only 55 games in his four seasons with the Redbirds, and 32 of those were in his first year there.
Calero was a great reliever, spending four years in Oakland, pitching in 179 games, and having two seasons with an ERA+ better than 130.
Barton hasn’t quite panned out though (which may or may not be from diving into a pool’s shallow end in 2008).
Haren was outstanding for the A’s, starting an All-Star Game and averaging just over 14 wins a year over three seasons. His trade to the Diamondbacks almost made this list, as he’s only gotten better, leading in ERA+ and WHIP this year.
The only thing that saved the A’s from this list is the fact they used some of those prospects (who seemed fairly underwhelming) to trade for Matt Holliday.
Tim Hudson (Braves) for Charles Thomas, Dan Meyer, and Juan Cruz (A's)
You may recognize Tim Hudson and Juan Cruz. You may not recognize the other two, making this one self-explanatory.
Also, two seasons later, the A’s traded Cruz to Arizona, where he had his breakthrough, for Brad Halsey, which is also lopsided, albeit to a lesser degree.
Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young, and Terrmel Sledge (Padres) for Akinori Otsuka and Adam Eaton (Rangers)
This one’s fairly self-explanatory. Adrian Gonzalez has been incredible this year. Chris Young had a few good seasons, though, too.
Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan (Rays) for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie (Twins)
Garza and Bartlett become key pieces in the Rays’ championship run last year. Bartlett was voted the Rays’ MVP last year and is having an even better season this year. Garza’s ERA+ has been 120 or better both of his years in Tampa.
Delmon Young was average last year, with an OPS+ of 101. This year, he’s like a black hole of outs*, with an OPS+ of 54.
*I guess that’s used because it’s like he’s a super-concentrated point of many outs. I guess.
Harris has been below average both of his seasons. Pridie hasn’t gotten much of a chance yet in the majors and looks average in AAA.
Johan Santana (Mets) for Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey (Twins)
You’ve probably heard about Santana lately.
Humber has been designated for assignment after a disappointing start. Gomez has had OPS+ numbers of 79 and (thus far) 66 with the Twins. Mulvey’s still in the minors, and his WHIP and ERA have increased since joining the Twins organization.
Guerra has not made the majors yet either and has WHIPs of 1.608 and 1.507 in AAA (although he is only 20). Those two have a lot of ground to make up for the other two.
Jason Bay and Josh Wilson (Red Sox) for Manny Ramirez (Dodgers) for Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, and Andy LaRoche (Pirates)
Manny helped the Dodgers win the NL West. (I’ve seen some people dispute this, and it did have a lot to do with Arizona’s collapse. But Manny did help some, and the Dodgers didn’t give up to much.)
For the purpose of this article, that’s all I’ll consider, since he was a free agent after last year and could have signed with them anyway.
The season Jason Bay is having is keeping Boston fans from missing Manny, with an OPS+ of 146 this year.
Morris looks average, or just above average, and he’s only in High A. Moss and Hansen are nowhere near replacing Bay. LaRoche is the only one with real promise, with a 104 OPS+ at the age of 25.
This trade looks even more uneven when you consider just Boston and Pittsburgh: Bay and Wilson for Hansen and Moss.
Erik Bedard (Mariners) for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler (Orioles)
This one is not quite lopsided yet, but it could be. Bedard was underwhelming last year, but he was doing fantastic this year before landing on the DL again. There have been trade rumors involving him, though.
The Mariners' former top prospect Jones, however, is now having a breakout year, with a 134 OPS+, 12 home runs, and a .316 batting average. Sherrill was the O’s only All-Star last season.
Tillman is now the Orioles’ top prospect with the call-up of Matt Wieters.
Mickolio hasn’t been as impressive as the other three, but he does have a 3.81 ERA, a 1.192 WHIP, and a 3.75 strikeout to walk ratio in AAA. He's also in the Orioles' top ten prospects.
I’m biased, but I’m hoping all four make an impact.
Edgar Renteria (Braves) for Andy Marte (Red Sox)
A trip back to the NL was just what Renteria needed. After a OPS+ of 89 in 2004, Renteria had seasons of 104 and 125, with 26 home runs and a .310 batting average in his two seasons in Atlanta.
Andy Marte was involved in the next deal.
Guillermo Mota, Kelly Shoppach, Randy Newsom, Andy Marte, and cash (Indians) for Josh Bard, Coco Crisp, and David Riske (Red Sox)
Bard wouldn’t make it a full season in Boston. Coco Crisp mostly got relegated to a bench role by the end of his lackluster time with the Sox.
They not only gave the Indians Kelly Shoppach, but they also gave them money. Shoppach had a line of .261/21/55 last year and an OPS+ of 123. He has a decent line of .200/5/16 this year.
But with Varitek at 37, and with his contract negotiations last offseason, Shoppach would have made a wonderful replacement.
Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens (Braves) for Edgar Renteria (Tigers)
Renteria’s skill declined with a return to the AL, and he has only gone downhill from there. The Tigers let him go after last year.
Hernandez was used to trade for Nate McLouth (which I was tempted to include; it’s too early for me to justify it, though).
Jurrjens has 18 wins and 195 strikeouts since joining Atlanta’s rotation last season. He’s had ERAs of 3.68 and 2.89, and ERA+ numbers of 116 and 146. What’s even more, he’s only 23.
Alfonso Soriano (Nationals) for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and Armando Galarraga (Rangers)
I was debating as to whether or not to include this. The Nationals only got one season of Soriano, but they didn’t give up much, so I included it.
Soriano made the most of his time in Washington: He had a career year and turned that into a large contract.
The Rangers traded Galarraga for a Michael Hernandez (which almost made this list) and included Sledge as a throw-in on the fifth deal on this list.
They combined for three games for the Rangers, all by Galarraga. Wilkerson spent two years in Texas, and neither matched up to Soriano’s one in Washington.
So, these four players spent a combined (just over) three seasons with the teams they wound up with on in this deal. Wow.
A Two Parter!
Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay (Braves) for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones (Rangers)
Then, one year later: Mark Teixeira (Angels) for Stephen Marek and Casey Kotchman
This is mostly on Atlanta. They gave up FIVE prospects and got two in return. Marek is 25 and floundering in AA. Kotchman is 26 and average offensively for a first baseman. (He has a 100 OPS+ this year.)
Salty (as he will be called here; his name is a NIGHTMARE to spell) is 24 and one of the Rangers' highly-touted young catchers. Andrus is 20 and already starting at shortstop for the Rangers. Feliz is one of the Rangers’ top pitching prospects and, at 21, is in AAA.
Tex was outstanding in Atlanta (OPS+ in his two partial seasons with the Braves: 163 and 136), but he could not get the Braves past the Mets and Phillies.
He was doing outstanding the next season when the Angels practically stole him. He hit .358/13/43, with an OPS+ of 180, to take the Angels to the playoffs. What’s more, they got a compensation pick for him signing with the Yankees. (I only add this to show how badly the Braves were duped.)