Let’s Make a Deal! Reid Gives the Best MLB Trade Deadline Deals of All-Time for Every Team!

Reid blog photo

This Friday Major League Baseball embarks upon my favorite part of the season: The trade deadline.

This is the moment when a line is drawn in the sand. Are you a buyer or a seller?

Teams looking for the missing piece of the puzzle, and willing to trade top prospects for current talent, with hopes of making the playoffs.

Then, of course, you have your sellers. Team’s who’s season has not gone according to plan, and are not in playoff contention. They have a chance to trade talented players for a cluster of future talent.

Let’s take a look at the biggest deadline moves each team has ever made.


American-League logo

New York Yankees – David Cone (SP)

Cone instantly became a Bronx legend. Already an established New Yorker having played for the Mets, Cone was acquired from Toronto in 1995. He helped take them to the playoffs that year and won the World Series the next.

The players traded to Toronto did virtually nothing.

Boston Red Sox – Orlando Cabrera (SS) and Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)

What was first perceived as an awful deal, turned out to be the most important in team history. Boston traded away fan favorite and team captain Nomar Garciaparra to receive a slick fielding, but poor hitting combination of Cabrera and Mientkiewicz. The move, which was meant to solidify their defense, proved wise as they broke the Curse of The Bambino and won the World Series for the first time in over 80 years.

Chris Davis/Photo: Baltimore Sports Report
Chris Davis/Photo: Baltimore Sports Report

Baltimore Orioles – Chris Davis (1B)

A team that lacked alot of deadline deals made a significant one in 2011. Acquiring the under achieving Davis from the Rangers for a reliever, and ended up getting one of the games best power hitters for nothing. Davis flourished in Baltimore leading, them to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2012 and 2013.

Tampa Bay Rays – Scott Kazmir (SP)

In 2004, the Rays took advantage of a desperate Mets team and snagged top prospect Kazmir, for the still developing Victor Zambrano. Zambrano pitched in New York for a season and half without ever reaching his potential. Kazmir developed into an All-Star and perennial strikeout leader.

Toronto Blue Jays – Jose Bautista (RF)

Bautista was given up on by nearly every team that he had played for (and it was a lot). So when Toronto picked him up he was assumed to be a roster filler. Jose never got the memo. Joey Bats has thrived for the Blue Jays, developing into one of the games best power hitters and one of its most popular players.

Minnesota Twins – Shannon Stewart (LF)

Stewart left Toronto a shell of his former self. The former speedster was unable to run the base paths the way he used to, however, when he was traded to the Twins he did what no one expected. He went on to hit over .320 and launched the Twins into the playoffs. Widely considered one of the best deadline pickups, he finished in the top 5 for MVP voting.

Chicago White Sox – Geoff Blum (IF)

Raise your hand if you know who he is.

Wow, less than I thought.

Now, raise your hand if you know who won the World Series in 2005. That’s better.

Blum was the only player the Sox picked up at the deadline in 2005, and what’s crazy is he hit only one home run. It was during the ALCS and it proved to be a game winner. Who knows if they would have won it all if they hadn’t gotten him.

Detroit Tigers – David Price (SP)

One of the prized acquisitions of last year’s deadline, is the center of the hot stove again. Price gave the Tigers a winning poker hand. A unheard of three Cy Young winners (Price, Justin Verlander, Max Sherezer), and Detriot waltzed into the playoffs with one of the nastiest three man rotations of all time.

Jaime Moyer/Photo: SeattlePi
Jaime Moyer/Photo: SeattlePi

Kansas City Royals – Johnny Cueto (SP)
Since they made virtually no moves last season, and it had been 30 years since their playoff run before last year, we are stuck with this as our only option. However, it could very well be the difference maker between playoff contender and World Series champion. Cueto is a dominant ace in a division that is lacking hitters (Miggy is hurt remember). He should help launch them to a playoff berth.

Cleveland Indians – Bob Wickman (RP)
Another tough one, but Wickman came to Cleveland at a perfect time. They had a phenomenal team that lacked a solid closer, and Wickman provided just that by becoming one of the most dominant in the league.

Seattle Mariners – Jamie Moyer (SP)

Often times, a deadline pickup is just a rental for a guy in the end of a contract. Other times, its for the very long haul. The Mariners got a young buck named Moyer, and turned him into an ageless wonder.

Texas Rangers – Cliff Lee (SP)

The face of post season dominance began in 2010. When the Rangers acquired Lee from Seattle, the thought was that he could carry them to the post season. While he came through in big games, he never really turned it on during the regular season. But once the playoffs came around he was lights out.

Oakland Athletics – Jason isringhausen (RP)

When the A’s sent Kenny Rodgers to the Mets in 1999, they took a pitcher who was still trying to find his place in the rotation. He eventually found his place in the bullpen. Isringhausen became a lights out closer for the A’s and eventually won a World Series in St. Louis. He would have fizzled out as a starter had he never gone to Oakland.

Houston Astros – Carlos Beltran (OF/DH)

Randy Johnson came in second here (Google his stats), but Beltran solidified himself as one of the games best when he was dealt to Houston. Carlos hit a playoff record 7 homeruns and lifted the Astros to their only World Series.

Anaheim Angels  – Zack Greinke (SP)

Grenike gave the Angels one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the league. Grenike, Weaver, Haren, CJ Wilson, and Ervin Santana were a hitter’s nightmare. Zack went 6-2 in his half season for the Angels before signing with the Dodgers in the off-season.


National League Logo

Atlanta Braves – Fred McGriff (1B)

An inspiration for this piece, McGriff was a monster when he came to Atlanta in ’93. He swatted 19 homeruns and hit over .300 in his first half season with the Braves, and followed that season with three straight All-Star appearances. This was all during a long stretch of division titles and a World Series win for the Braves.

Mike Piazza/Photo: Bleacher Report
Mike Piazza/Photo: Bleacher Report

New York Mets – Mike Piazza (C)

One of two players on this list who were acquired at the deadline, and will wear that teams cap in Cooperstown. Piazza was already a rental from the Marlins just days before the Mets sent a handful of prospects in exchange for the catcher. What Florida got was a few good years of Preston Wilson. What the Mets got was the face of their franchise and a trip to the World Series riding Piazza.

Washington Nationals – Bartolo Colon (SP)

Many moons ago, our nation’s captial didn’t have a team. That team was north of the boarder. In 2002, Bartolo was shipped from Cleveland to Montreal Expos in one of their last seasons. Despite giving up what turned out to be a kings ransom (Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore), it didn’t help the Expos get to the playoffs.

Philadelphia Phillies – Cliff Lee (SP)

No, this not a typo. Cliff Lee is appearing twice in this list. Why? Because he was THAT dominate in the playoffs. Traded from Cleveland in ’08, the Phils road the combination of Lee and Halladay into the playoffs. And unlike in his Texas stint, he won the World Series.

Miami Marlins – Ugeth Urbina (RP)

Back in 2003, the Marlins acquired closer Ugeth Urbina. While he was an effective closer in the more hitter friendly American League, the Marlins saw him more useful as a setup man. They eventually beat the Yankees to win the World Series. Regardless, I think they regret trading Adrian Gonzalez for him.

St. Louis Cardinals – Mark McGwire (1B)

Big Mac’s trade to St. Louis changed the landscape of baseball. First, it made the Cards a contender. Not only that, but his presence made free agents like Jim Edmonds sign there and help start their slew of division titles. Second, the ’98 season of Sosa and McGwire is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Cincinnati Reds – Tom Seaver (SP)

In 1977, the franchise pitcher for the Mets, Tom Seaver, was dealt to The Reds as they thought he had nothing left in the tank. Two all-star games and a no hitter made the Mets look stupid.

Milwaukee Brewers – CC Sabathia (SP)
Look up his stats in his half season in Milwaukee and tell me he didn’t deserve the Cy Young. I dare you. Not only was he one of the best pitchers in deadline history, he launched the Brew Crew to their first playoff berth in forever.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Bobby Bollina (3B/RF)

Before he signed the smartest contract in sports history, the Bucs acquired him at the deadline. After a brief stint with the White Sox, Bobby Bo went on to play in four All Star games in four and a half seasons. He also helped them to back-to-back division titles.

Chicago Cubs – Kenny Loften (OF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), and Randall Simon (1B)

In 2003, the Cubs got a trio of talent from division rival Pirates, all in separate trades. They all had a pivotal role in launching them into the playoffs, and one Bartman-ball away from the World Series.

Manny Ramirez/Photo: ESPN
Manny Ramirez/Photo: ESPN

LA Dodgers – Manny Ramirez (OF)

Hands down one of the best pickups in deadline history. Manny left Boston to have one of the best stretches of his career in LA. In just over 50 games for the Dodgers he hit .396 with 19 homeruns and over 60 RBI. Should have won the MVP.

San Francisco Giants – Jason Schmidt (OF)

The underachieving Schmidt left Pittsburgh in 2001 and overachieved for the Giants. He went to three All Star games and helped the Giants to the World Series in 2002.

Arizona Cardinals – Curt Schilling (SP)

He went from average ace, to the best number two in the game. A year after the deal in 2000, Schilling won 22 and 23 games over the past two years, and was co-MVP in the 2001 World Series with Randy Johnson.

Colorado Rockies – Jose Reyes (SS)

This is by default. Tulowitzki was an institution for this franchise. Next to Todd Helton, he is probably the most beloved player in team history. They got an expensive and fragile replacement in Reyes. Hopefully the prospects will pan out.

San Diego Padres – Trevor Hoffman (RP)

“The Hoff” is the second man on the list to don his deadline cap in the Hall. If it wasn’t for Marino Rivera, Hoffman would be considered the best closer of his time. He came over from the Marlins in ’93, and went to 5 All Star games for the Padres and helped them to the World Series in ’97.

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