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Every team's best Deadline acquisition

August 30, 2020

The Trade Deadline is upon us, and odds are, your team will not make a dramatic, earth-shattering deal. But they could. More to the point: They have. So today, hop in the way-back machine and look at the best Deadline deal every team has made. We’re defining “Deadline” as the

The Trade Deadline is upon us, and odds are, your team will not make a dramatic, earth-shattering deal. But they could. More to the point: They have.

So today, hop in the way-back machine and look at the best Deadline deal every team has made. We’re defining “Deadline” as the two weeks heading into the Deadline as well … but mostly, these land on the Deadline itself. A team might not transform itself at the Deadline. But it might.


Blue Jays -- 2015: David Price from the Tigers: The Blue Jays made it clear they were going for it when, days after acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, they grabbed Price, clearly the biggest name on the market, for Daniel Norris, Matthew Boyd and Jairo Labourt. The trade was a smashing success during the regular season, with Toronto going 42-18 after making the trade, but Price pitched largely out of the bullpen during the playoffs, and the Blue Jays fell to the Royals in the AL Championship Series. (Also worth noting: the acquisition of Rickey Henderson at the 1993 Deadline.)

Orioles -- 1988: Brady Anderson (and Curt Schilling) from the Red Sox: The Orioles gave up Mike Boddicker, but they got their starting center fielder (and franchise staple) for the next decade. They also got a hard-throwing right-hander in the deal, but they never quite figured out what to do with him and ended up sending him to Houston, along with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch for Glenn Davis.

Rays -- 2018: Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz from the Pirates: The Ben Zobrist trade in 2006 is a solid runner-up, but the Rays seeded the soil for their next big run of contention by trading Chris Archer, who they were eager to move anyway, for a future All-Star outfielder, a key starter and a top prospect. This isn’t the only reason the Rays have had so much success since then. But it’s a big one.

Red Sox -- 1997: Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe from the Mariners: Never underestimate a contending team that desperately wants a closer. The Red Sox took advantage of the Mariners’ thirst for Heathcliff Slocomb and ended up bringing in two of the key players of their 2004 breakthrough … and, essentially, franchise legends.

Yankees -- 1995: David Cone from the Blue Jays: It’s possible Gleyber Torres is so incredible as a Yankee that the swap for Aroldis Chapman may pass this, but for now, getting a New York legend who would end up winning three World Series and throwing a perfect game in exchange for Mike Gordon, Jason Jarvis and Marty Janzen is pretty tough to beat.


Indians -- 2008: Michael Brantley from the Brewers: CC Sabathia was one of the hottest pitchers in baseball when the Indians sent him to the Brewers, who very much reaped the benefits in Sabathia’s two months in Milwaukee. But the Indians got one of their best players over the next decade in return, which seems more than worth it in every way, considering they were not going to re-sign CC.

Royals -- 2015: Johnny Cueto from the Reds: The Royals made two major deals at the 2015 Deadline, bringing in Ben Zobrist from Oakland and Cueto from Cincinnati. Zobrist ended up being a linchpin for the World Series win that year, but Cueto was brilliant in the playoffs, winning the decisive game of the AL Division Series and two-hitting the Mets in Game 2 of the World Series.

Tigers -- 2011: Doug Fister from the Mariners: The Tigers infamously traded John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander at the 1987 Deadline, though people forget that Alexander did go 9-0 down the stretch for them and made the All-Star team the next year. As for Fister, he was so good for the Tigers down the stretch (1.79 ERA in 70 1/3 innings) that he helped win them a division title. The best player the Mariners got back was pitcher Charlie Furbush.

Twins -- 1989: Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani from the Mets: Frank Viola, who also pitched for St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., had long been lusted after by the Mets. The Twins ended up with two key pieces for their World Series win in 1991, still their most recent title.

White Sox -- 2017: Eloy Jiménez from the Cubs: This happened a little more than two weeks before the Deadline (July 13), but we are counting it anyway. Every time Jiménez hits a home run in the Crosstown Classic, the Cubs will have to remember they gave him up for José Quintana. The White Sox also got Dylan Cease out of the deal, too.


Angels -- 2008: Mark Teixeira from the Braves: Teixeira was a free agent to be, and the Angels got him for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek: not much. Teixeira was fantastic for the Angels down the stretch, but they still lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS. Teixeira left for the Yankees in the offseason, but there was still good news to come: The compensation pick they received for Teixeira leaving ended up becoming Mike Trout.

Astros -- 1998: Randy Johnson from the Mariners: It would be a tough choice between this and the Carlos Beltrán trade a few years later … but the Beltrán one happened in June. This one was right at the Deadline -- arguably after the Deadline -- and Johnson was incredible after the trade, going 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA. The Astros still lost to the Padres in the National League Division Series, though, and they paid a fairly steep price, giving up right-hander Freddy Garcia, shortstop Carlos Guillen and lefty John Halama.

Athletics -- 2008: Josh Donaldson from the Cubs: There would end up being a later, much less-heralded deal involving Donaldson, this time him leaving, but in 2008, giving up Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs got the A’s a future superstar.

Mariners -- 1998: Jay Buhner from the Yankees: Don’t listen to me on this one. Just listen to Frank Costanza.

Watch: Seinfeld: Jay Buhner

Rangers -- 2007: Elvis Andrus, Neftalí Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Braves: Mark Teixeira makes it on this list twice, this time with the original trade that sent him to Atlanta and, ultimately, helped construct key pieces of a team that went to the World Series in 2010-11.


Braves -- 1987: John Smoltz from the Tigers: This one will live on forever as the potential perils of trading away unknown prospects for short-term relief, though as noted above, Doyle Alexander was great down the stretch for Detroit and an All-Star in 1988.

Marlins -- 2003: Ugueth Urbina from the Rangers: Urbina may have had an unpleasant post-baseball career life, but he was absolutely instrumental to the Marlins’ last World Series victory. Though the Marlins gave up a pretty big name to get him: Adrián González.

Mets -- 2015: Yoenis Céspedes from the Tigers: Remember, if Wilmer Flores had not cried out on the field (and ended up not being traded), this deal might never have happened. It ended up with the Mets in the World Series.

Phillies -- 2009: Cliff Lee from the Indians: Every team in baseball desperately wanted Lee at the time, but the Phillies got him, and he helped get them to the World Series (though they did give up Carlos Carrasco as part of the trade). They traded him to the Mariners that offseason … but Lee signed back with them anyway as a free agent after the 2010 season.

Nationals -- 2017: Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the A’s: For a while, this was just known as the trade that led Blake Treinen get away. But as it turned out, Doolittle and Madson were key for a team that had constant bullpen woes, and Doolittle helped them win a World Series.


Brewers -- 2015: Josh Hader from the Astros: This was another aftereffect of the Flores non-trade. When Carlos Gómez did not end up being traded to the Mets, the Brewers sent him to the Astros … and got maybe the best reliever in their history in return.

Cardinals -- 1997: Mark McGwire from the A’s: Seriously, can you name any of the players the Cardinals gave up for Big Mac? Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein. Meanwhile, the Cardinals changed the course of their franchise’s history, and all told, are still enjoying benefits of this trade today.

Cubs -- 2013: Jake Arrieta from the Orioles: This was actually made at the beginning of July, stretching the definition a bit (and feel free to choose the Chapman trade if you want, though you probably shouldn’t since he almost blew the 2016 World Series), but with this trade, the Cubs found the ace who would end up being vital to their resurgence … and ultimate World Series title.

Pirates -- 1986: Bobby Bonilla from the White Sox: The Pirates gave up Jose DeLeon, a good pitcher, but they got a key bat for some of their best teams over the next five years and a guy who helped them win two division titles.

Reds -- 1977: Tom Seaver from the Mets: This was back when the Deadline was on June 15, and it happened on that date. The trade is more infamous in Mets lore, but Seaver won 75 games in six seasons with the Reds, finishing in the top four in Cy Young voting twice and throwing his only career no-hitter in 1978. The players sent to the Mets? Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry.


D-backs -- 2000: Curt Schilling from the Phillies: The goal of this trade was to get the D-backs into the postseason in 2000. That did not work. But it sure did pay off in '01. The D-backs gave up Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla, and they didn’t miss any of them.

Dodgers -- 2008: Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox: This one sure felt like an earth-shaker at the time, and Ramirez was an absolute monster down the stretch for Los Angeles, turning the whole town into Mannywood. Don’t worry about what happened after that. Just enjoy that ride. The best player the Dodgers gave up in the three-way trade was third baseman Andy LaRoche. He was a big prospect at the time, but he never panned out.

Giants -- 2012: Hunter Pence from the Phillies: Pence has played for many teams and made some great memories with each, but he’ll always feel most like a Giant. He ended up being exactly what this World Series-winning team most needed. And he helped them win another one in 2014. The Giants gave up a trio of players to get Pence, with Nate Schierholtz being the most notable name.

Padres -- 1996: Greg Vaughn from the Brewers: The Padres did make the playoffs in 1996, though Vaughn wasn’t a big part of it, but it was in '98, when he hit 50 homers and helped lead the team to the World Series, when San Diego truly reaped the rewards of this deal. The most notable player San Diego gave up? Lefty Ron Villone.

Rockies -- 2015: José Reyes from the Blue Jays: This is better known as the Troy Tulowitzki trade, but what matters is not that Reyes came in (he wasn’t there long) or that Tulo went out. It’s that getting Tulo’s salary off the books cleared out space for the Rockies to extend Nolan Arenado … and give shortstop to Trevor Story, who has ascended to All-Star status himself.