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10 biggest trades in Indians history

July 31, 2019

The Indians have more than a century's worth of history, making for a long list of crucial transactions throughout the franchise's annals. Trades, in particular, have been prevalent for Cleveland and critical to the clubs that piled up wins and contended for a championship. There are so many important swaps

The Indians have more than a century's worth of history, making for a long list of crucial transactions throughout the franchise's annals. Trades, in particular, have been prevalent for Cleveland and critical to the clubs that piled up wins and contended for a championship.

There are so many important swaps to pick from that narrowing things down to the 10 best trades in team history is a daunting task. Larry Doby for Tito Francona, the Kenny Lofton-David Justice swap and Shoeless Joe Jackson's arrival are among the many significant trades to miss the cut.

Here are our Top 10 trades in Cleveland history:

1. The Bartolo Colon trade

Indians got from Expos: LHP Cliff Lee, INF Brandon Phillips, OF Grady Sizemore and 1B Lee Stevens
Indians gave up: RHP Colon, RHP Tim Drew
Date: June 27, 2002

This is arguably one of the most famous deals in baseball history -- not just Tribe history. Lee went on to become a Cy Young Award winner with the Indians, while Sizemore blossomed into a generational talent whose career was shortened by injuries. Phillips also had a strong MLB career, though mostly with the Reds. Colon, well, he kept pitching and pitching and pitching in a remarkable career that spanned more than two decades.

2. Alomar and Baerga arrive

Indians got from Padres: C Sandy Alomar Jr., 2B Carlos Baerga, OF Chris James
Indians gave up: OF Joe Carter
Date: Dec. 6, 1989

The '90s were the golden age of baseball in Cleveland. There was a new ballpark, piles of division crowns and a pair of trips to the World Series. This trade in '89 was integral in adding two core pieces to the Tribe's All-Star-laden lineup. Baerga made three All-Star teams with the Indians, while Alomar became a force behind the plate in what would become a 20-year career. Carter fizzled with San Diego, but saw his career rebound with the Blue Jays.

3. The Grey Eagle lands

Indians got from Red Sox: OF Tris Speaker
Indians gave up: RHP Sad Sam Jones, INF Fred Thomas
Date: April 9, 1916

Speaker was already a star after nine seasons and a pair of World Series titles with the Red Sox. He then spent 11 years with Cleveland, where he became one of the greatest players in franchise history. His stay with Cleveland included being part of the club's 1920 World Series title. Speaker churned out 1,965 of his 3,514 career hits with the Indians.

4. The CC deal

Indians got from Brewers: OF Michael Brantley, RHP Rob Bryson, LHP Zach Jackson, 1B Matt LaPorta
Indians gave up: LHP Carsten Sabathia
Date: July 7, 2008

Cleveland hit the reset button after its 2007 run fell short and the '08 campaign got off to a rough start. That meant parting ways with Sabathia, who was the reigning American League Cy Young winner and was nearing free agency. LaPorta was the focal point of the return package, but he did not pan out as planned. Instead, it was the player to be named later -- Brantley -- who went on to become a multi-year All-Star and franchise cornerstone. Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch for the Brewers, helping them reach the playoffs. The big lefty then hit pay dirt with the Yankees that offseason.

5. The Cliff Lee trade

Indians got from Phillies: RHP Carlos Carrasco, INF Jason Donald, RHP Jason Knapp, C Lou Marson
Indians gave up: OF Louis Francisco, LHP Lee
Date: July 29, 2009

One year after the Sabathia trade, the Indians dealt away another reigning AL Cy Young winner in Lee. Carrasco came to Cleveland as a young pitching prospect as part of the trade and went on to become one of the most overpowering arms in team history. Lee pitched outstanding for Philadelphia in the '09 World Series, but the Yankees took home the crown. The lefty would pitch five more seasons in the Majors, retiring with four All-Star appearances and three top-four Cy Young finishes.

6. Acquiring Kluber

Indians gave up: RHP Jake Westbrook (Cardinals)
Padres gave up: RHP Corey Kluber (Indians), LHP Nick Greenwood (Cardinals)
Cardinals gave up: OF Ryan Ludwick (Padres)
Date: July 31, 2010

This trade did not steal headlines like the Sabathia and Lee trades did in each of the previous two seasons. That said, it was arguably more important to Cleveland's forward progress. The Indians dealt away Westbrook and netted an unheralded pitching prospect in Kluber. In the Tribe farm system, Kluber worked on retooling his pitch arsenal, which fueled an unexpected rise to the top of the Indians' rotation. Kluber developed into one of baseball's best arms, winning the AL Cy Young Award in '14 and '17 along the way, and headed a historically great rotation.

7. Miller Time

Indians got from Yankees: LHP Andrew Miller
Indians gave up: RHP J.P. Feyereisen, OF Clint Frazier, RHP Ben Heller, LHP Justus Sheffield
Date: July 31, 2016

The Indians shocked the baseball world when they parted with two top-shelf prospects (Frazier and Sheffield) as part of a blockbuster deal to land Miller. The lefty was a force out of the bullpen in '16, earning MVP honors for his work in the AL Championship Series against Toronto and nearly helping Cleveland to a World Series crown that October. The rest of Miller's tenure with the Tribe was marred by injuries, but this deal paid off in the form of a memorable Fall Classic run.

8. So long, Rock

Indians got from Tigers: OF Harvey Kuenn
Indians gave up: OF Rocky Colavito
Date: April 17, 1960

Indians fans of a certain age might be able to tell you where they were when the team traded away The Rock. Not only did Colavito have a blue-collar name working for him, he wielded a powerful bat that quickly added his name to Indians lore. The Rock smacked 42 homers in 1959 and walloped four homers in a single game on June 10 that summer. So, it was painful for many Cleveland fans to see him dealt to rival Detroit. Kuenn was an All-Star in '60, but that wound up being his lone season in Cleveland. Colavito had a homecoming with the Indians in '65-67, but the sting of the initial trade still lingered.

9. Bauer Outage

Indians gave up: 1B Lars Anderson (D-backs), LHP Tony Sipp (D-backs), OF Shin-Soo Choo (Reds), INF Donald (Reds)
D-backs gave up: RHP Matt Albers (Indians), RHP Trevor Bauer (Indians), RHP Bryan Shaw (Indians)
Reds gave up: SS Didi Gregorius (D-backs), OF Drew Stubbs (Indians)
Date: Dec. 11, 2012

All was quiet for the Indians during the 2012 Winter Meetings, but it was soon revealed that there was plenty of action happening behind the scenes. A few days after the Meetings ended, the Indians, Reds and D-backs announced a nine-player deal. For the Indians, the biggest additions were Bauer (who developed into a front-line starter for Cleveland) and Shaw (one of the most durable late-inning arms in Tribe history). Both were important pieces in a run of multiple division titles for the Indians.

Bauer Outage Pt. 2

Indians gave up: RHP Trevor Bauer (Reds), LHP Scott Moss (Reds)
Reds gave up: OF Taylor Tramel (Padres), Yasiel Puig (Indians)
Padres gave up: OF Franmil Reyes (Indians), LHP Logan Allen (Indians), 3B Victor Nova (Indians)
Date: July 31, 2019

The Indians, Padres and Reds executed a three-team deal as Cleveland a huge package as Cleveland for the often-criticized Bauer. The trade doesn’t go as a rebuild for Cleveland, but a re-tooling of the roster as the Indians added two potent bats to the middle of the lineup in Puig and Reyes in addition to adding Top 100 prospect in Allen (No. 98), who could slot into the spot vacated by Bauer.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.