The likelihood that Albert Pujols, who has played his entire 10-year career in St. Louis, will be leaving the Cardinals following the 2011 is increasing daily.
If Pujols were to switch teams, the balance of power in the MLB would be significantly altered. Regardless of where Pujols lands (assuming he leaves St. Louis), the ramifications will be tremendous.
There is no doubt that Pujols changing teams would surpass nearly every transaction of the decade in terms of significance.
However, where would Pujols' move rank among all team changes of the decade? Would he affect the power structure of the MLB more than Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez did?
In this article, I will identify the ten trades of the past decade that sparked the most attention. It is by no means guaranteed that Pujols will be leaving St. Louis and his potential suitors are not fully known; therefore, it is not possible to predict Pujols' effect on the MLB well enough to rank him on this list.
Keep in mind that this article will be not be ranking the 10 most significant moves. For example, the Marlins/Red Sox deal which sent Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins and Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox will not make this list despite its significance.
Signings or trades in which the moving player was recognized as one of the best in the game will be.
Schilling's value was at its highest with Arizona. In 2001 and 2002 combined, Schilling went 45-13 with a 3.10 ERA. He had been part of one of MLB history's best duos with Randy Johnson, winning the World Series in 2001.
In 2003, Schilling's final season with Arizona, he posted a 2.95 ERA with 194 strikeouts in just 168.0 innings pitched. Between 2000 and 2003, only Randy Johnson struck out more batters than Schilling. At the time of his trade to Boston, Schilling was widely regarded as one of MLB's best starting pitchers.
When the Diamondbacks traded Schilling to Boston in November of 2003, the Red Sox became a threat to win it all in 2004. Schilling went on to go 21-6 with Boston in 2004, not to mention a 3-1 postseason record.
Schilling helped the Red Sox win two World Series in just four seasons.
In 2007, with the Marlins, Cabrera was one of the most prized players in the MLB. He was just 24 years old and already tearing up MLB pitching.
In 2007, Cabrera batted .320 and hit 34 home runs. This was the third season in four years Cabrera had hit at least 33 home runs. In 2007, Cabrera was one of only five players to hit .320 with 30 or more home runs. His value was as high as almost any other player.
In return for Cabrera, the Marlins received two prospects who were expected to be All-Stars in their careers. However, neither Andrew Miller nor Cameron Maybin still play for Florida. With Detroit, Cabrera has been a monster, hitting 109 home runs in three seasons.
When the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in 2004, they lost not only one of the best shortstops in history, but a Boston legend.
In 2002 and 2003 combined, the two seasons prior to his trade, Garciaparra hit .306 with 52 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Through 2003, Garciaparra had a career .321 batting average and 173 career home runs. Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez made up one of history's greatest shortstop rivalries.
After 2006, Garciaparra never returned even close to his value that he had established with Boston.
Jones was one of the biggest power hitters in the MLB prior to his departure from Atlanta.
He hit 51, 41 and 26 home runs in the three seasons leading up to his departure. While his batting average was mediocre at best, Jones was an elite run producer and run scorer, averaging 95 runs and 117 RBI between 2005 and 2007.
Jones had also won ten Gold Gloves in Atlanta, an astonishing feat.
Jones left Atlanta in 2007, moving to Los Angels by signing a two-year, $36.2 million contract with the Dodgers. While the Dodgers appeared to be set with power in 2008, Jones hit a mere three home runs in 75 games with Los Angeles.
The Big Unit is one of the best starting pitchers to ever play in the MLB and he is best remembered for his time in Arizona.
Between 1999 and 2004, Johnson won 19 games or more three times and was the undoubted best strikeout pitcher in the league.
Before moving to the Yankees, Johnson went 16-14 with a 2.60 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Johnson had won five Cy Youngs in his career at this point and had won a World Series just a few years before, 2001, with Arizona.
Johnson never returned to his Cy Young form in New York. Despite winning 34 games, his ERAs were 3.79 and 5.00 in his two seasons with the Yankees.
Sabathia's value was at its highest prior to being signed by New York.
In 2007, he went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA, good enough for the American League Cy Young Award. He was traded to Milwaukee the next season, and only improved.
He showed his ability to help a contending team, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch with Milwaukee in 2008. Seven of his 17 starts with the Brewers were complete games, a stunning ratio.
Sabathia went on to sign a ridiculous contract with New York; however, he has been invaluable to the Yankees so far.
Though he was a goofball, Ramirez was also one of the most feared and respected hitters in the game in Boston.
Ramirez won seven straight Silver Slugger awards between 1999-2006, displaying his incredible talent. While he had only hit 40 home runs the one-and-a-half seasons preceding his trade, he had 80 in the two seasons prior to that.
Ramirez played a major part in the Red Sox's two World Series victories in 2004 and 2007. He was a fun player to watch and clearly a valuable asset.
Ramirez played extremely well in 2008 with Los Angeles, hitting 17 home runs in 187 at-bats, though he never returned to his Silver Slugger level and was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs soon after his trade.
Before leaving Minnesota, Santana had been a lifelong Twin, a two-time Cy Young winner, a 20-game winner and much more.
He won 16 or more games with the Twins in four straight seasons, and his ERA fluctuated between 2.61 and 3.07 between 2002 and 2007. Santana was arguably the highest-valued starting pitcher in the MLB at the time, and his departure was a significant loss to Minnesota's rotation.
The Mets traded for Santana in an attempt to make a World Series run; however, they have fallen short of that goal despite Santana's strong production.
In his three seasons with Texas, Rodriguez had three seasons that are among the best in the history of the MLB.
Rodriguez hit 156 home runs in those three years and his batting average never fell below .298. On top of that, Rodriguez was also a solid base-stealer, and he had won back-to-back Gold Glove awards in 2002 and 2003 over Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra.
The amount of respect Rodriguez had in 2003 can be seen in $25-plus million he was earning. Rodriguez's move was one of the most significant acquisitions in history.
Rodriguez has been an integral part of New York's offense and World Series success.
Griffey Jr. is one of the best players to ever play the game, without a doubt, and his value in 2000 when he was traded to Cincinnati was extremely high.
With Seattle, Griffey Jr. had won nine Gold Glove awards, seven Silver Slugger awards, an MVP and was named to the MLB All-Century team.
In 1999, Griffey Jr. hit 48 home runs, the fourth straight season he had hit 48 or more home runs. His .384 on-base percentage was extremely impressive and he had stolen 59 bases in the three seasons before he was traded to Cincinnati.
In January of 2000, the Mariners traded one of history's best MLB players, immediately changing the power structure of baseball.