As the 2014 MLB trade deadline approaches, general managers around the league are preparing to be buyers or sellers and do what they can to improve their team either in the short term or in the long term.
Teams that are looking to better themselves in order to qualify for the postseason or make a long run into October will be looking to trade prospects to acquire players that can have an immediate impact on their roster.
The trade deadline brings with it an exciting element that captures the attention of fans everywhere as it’s always interesting to see what big names are being shopped and what teams are willing to sacrifice their future in order to try and win now.
With the trade deadline for this season coming up on July 31, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable deals that took place on (or right around) the deadline.
1964- Cubs Trade Lou Brock To St. Louis
The Deal: Chicago sends Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to St. Louis for Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and Doug Clemens.
This is a trade that the Chicago Cubs have been kicking themselves over for the past five decades. Granted, at the time of the deal it seemed like a pretty fair exchange. Brock, just 25 at the time, had been a decent player during his first two years in the majors but the Cubs were looking for pitching help and Broglio had an encouraging 70-55 record during his time with the Cardinals.
Unfortunately for Chicago, Broglio never showed any of the promising form that he did while in St. Louis, going 7-19 with an ERA close to six during his 59 appearances (33 starts) with the Cubs. As for Brock, we all know how the rest of his career went down. He ended up playing 16 seasons with the Cardinals where he accumulated the majority of his 3,023 hits and 938 stolen bases while helping the redbirds win a pair of World Series titles.
1993- Padres Trade Fred McGriff To Atlanta
The Deal: San Diego trades Fred McGriff to Atlanta in exchange for Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott and Melvin Nieves.
The Atlanta Braves were a model for consistency in the 90’s and beyond, winning their division every season from 1991-2005. When San Diego decided to hold a fire sale during the 1993 season, Atlanta was right there to jump on McGriff. Already established as one of the league’s top power hitters, McGriff joined an Atlanta team that had gone to the World Series in the previous two seasons, though they lost both times to Minnesota and Toronto, respectively.
San Diego made this deal thinking they were making an investment in their future, but things didn’t work out that way. None of the players they acquired in this deal turned into everyday starters, with only Nieves getting any kind of consistent time with the Padres. McGriff, on the other hand, had five solid seasons in Atlanta and helped the Braves to the only World Series championship the team would win during their decades of dominance.
1997- Oakland Sends Mark McGwire To St. Louis
The Deal: Oakland trades Mark McGwire to St. Louis and gets back T.J. Mathews, Eric Ludwick and Blake Stein.
When most people think of Mark McGwire’s playing days, they see him wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. Lest we forget that he spent way more time wearing green (12 years) then he did wearing red (five years), but the lasting memories that McGwire left with baseball fans are of his home run record season in 1998 and the battle between he and Sammy Sosa that captivated fans across the globe.
The trade reunited McGwire with former Athletics manager Tony La Russa and brought some of baseball’s brightest moments in recent history to one of the best baseball towns in America.
2008- Red Sox Ship Manny Ramirez To Los Angeles
The Deal: Boston sends Manny Ramirez To Los Angeles, Craig Hansen and Branton Moss to Pittsburgh who sends Jason Bay back to the Red Sox. Pittsburgh also received Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.
It was well-known that Manny Ramirez was on the trade block and the rumors were swirling as to where he would end up. The Dodgers stepped up in the end, and the three-team deal was the talk of the ’08 trade deadline.
Ramirez finished the season on an absolute tear, prompting his new town to be renamed ‘Mannywood.’ In 53 games with the Dodgers, Ramirez hit .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. Los Angeles ended up sneaking by Arizona to capture the NL West crown.
2009/2010- Cliff Lee Gets Moved In Consecutive Years
The Deals: In 2009 Cleveland traded Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philadelphia for minor leaguers Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald. In 2010 Lee was traded from Seattle, along with Mark Lowe, to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan and Matthew Lawson.
Let’s start in 2008 when Lee was the AL Cy Young award winner after a dominant season with Cleveland in which he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. With Lee set to become a free agent after the 2010 season, the Indians knew that they weren’t going to pay the big bucks that he would demand on the open market. That led to the trade between Cleveland and Philly.
Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Lee was solid in the remaining regular season games but it wasn’t until the playoffs that he really proved his worth. In five postseason starts for the Phillies, Lee went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA and helped them reach the World Series.
The offseason saw Philadelphia trade Lee to Seattle. The Mariners were thinking that teaming Lee up with Felix Hernandez would give the team a 1-2 punch good enough to earn a playoff berth. Things didn’t work out that way though as Seattle’s offense struggled mightily and it quickly became apparent that they were not going to be involved in the playoff race.
With Lee set to become a free-agent after the season, the Mariners cut their losses and shipped Lee to division-leading Texas who was in need of a top-tier starting pitcher to solidify their rotation. The Rangers would win their division and take down the Rays and Yankees to reach the World Series. For the second straight year, Lee’s new team would lose in the fall classic.
Lee ended up going back to Philadelphia, sighing as a free-agent before the 2011 season, where he has become a mainstay in the Phillies rotation.