10 Biggest Trade Deadline Fleeces in Baseball History


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The July 31st trade deadline almost always brings an entertaining flurry of activity involving the league's premier players and teams. This year, fans of division contenders are anxiously waiting to find out where guys such as Carlos Beltran, BJ Upton, Hunter Pence and Ubaldo Jimenez may land, if their clubs ultimately decide to give them up. On the other end, fans of cellar dwellers hope their teams' usually incompetent front offices make uncharacteristically shrewd moves, equipping their rosters for brighter futures. The following trades are the ones every fan and general manager fantasizes about — these fleeces paid huge dividends for the franchises that knew what they were doing.

  1. Cubs trade Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz (1964)

    Water is wet. Grass is green. The Cubs made a poor personnel move. Brock's development stagnated during his three seasons in Chicago. Although he demonstrated elite speed and baserunning ability, his average was less than stellar and his power never seemed to materialize, prompting the Cubs' front office to prematurely give up on him. Once he was shipped to St. Louis, his fortunes immediately changed. During the remaining 103 games of the 1964 season, he hit .387 with a .915 OPS, 12 homeruns, 44 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. The Cardinals won the World Series, and he remained with the club until the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1979. Broglio, the key acquisition for the Cubs who many thought made the deal a fleece for them, posted a 7-19 record with a 5.40 ERA in more than three seasons with the team.

  2. Yankees trade Jay Buhner to Mariners for Ken Phelps (1988)

    Frank Costanza said it best when discussing the deal with George Steinbrenner: "What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 homeruns, over 100 RBIs last year! He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doing!" During his stint with the Mariners, he blossomed into one of the league's most feared power hitters, tallying 307 homeruns. At the pinnacle of his career, he hit 40 homeruns in three consecutive seasons. Ken Phelps' bat, which was hot in the first half of the season, cooled down considerably with his new team, posting a meager .224 average.

  3. Red Sox trade Jeff Bagwell to Astros for Larry Anderson (1990)

    Every once in a while, an unexciting waiver deadline deal influences a hotly-contested division race. The acquisition of the 37-year-old Anderson helped the Red Sox, who needed a veteran arm in the bullpen and had a logjam of third base prospects in the minors, win the AL East title on the final day of the season. After the Sox were swept by the A's in the ALCS, Anderson departed in free agency. With Ken Caminiti occupying third base, the Astros shifted Bagwell to first base, where he flourished during his 15-year career, winning the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year Award, the 1994 NL MVP and three Silver Slugger Awards — accomplishments that cemented his status as the best offensive player in Astros' history.

  4. Padres trade Fred McGriff to Braves for Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliot and Vince Moore (1993)

    Production resembling McGriff's is what every general manager from a contending team covets in a deadline deal. Placed on the block by the payroll-slashing Padres after achieving six consecutive 30 homerun seasons, McGriff was nabbed by the Braves in exchange for three borderline major leaguers. In the remaining 68 games of the 1993 season, he tallied 19 homeruns and 55 RBIs with a 1.004 OPS, enabling the Braves to outlast the Giants in a memorable wire-to-wire NL West race. The Braves won the World Series two years later with McGriff as a key component.

  5. Blue Jays trade David Cone to Yankees for Mike Gordon, Jason Jarvis and Marty Janzen (1995)

    Baseball fans are accustomed to the Yankees making bold moves at the deadline, and in most cases, they come out on top. Such was the case in 1995 when they acquired David Cone, a move the not only propelled the team to the playoffs that season, but helped it become baseball's next dynasty. Cone went 9-2 in 13 starts down the stretch, and pitched even better over the next four seasons. The 1994 Cy Young Award winner came cheap, as only one of the players the Yankees gave up, Janzen, reached the majors, posting a 6.39 ERA in 27 appearances.

  6. Mariners trade Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe to Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb (1997)

    Both Varitek and Lowe were expendable assets for the Mariners in 1997. Dan Wilson was entrenched in the starting catcher position, preventing Varitek, the organization's top catching prospect, from sniffing the majors. Lowe had an ERA well-over six in 32 appearances and had yet to show the promise he would later demonstrate for the Red Sox. In dire need of relief pitching help, the Mariners traded the two young players to the Sox for Heathlciff Slocumb, a guy who's now more remembered for his unusual name than his playing career. At the time of the trade, he had somehow secured 17 saves with an unsightly 5.79 ERA. He became a journeyman for the rest of his career, while Varitek made three All-Star appearances and helped the Sox win the 2004 and 2007 World Series, and Lowe saved 40 games in one season, won 20 in another, and contributed to the team's 2004 World Series title.

  7. A's trade Mark McGwire to Cardinals for TJ Mathews, Eric Ludwick and Blake Stein (1997)

    The former Bash Brother experienced a career resurgence with the moribund A's in the mid-'90s. After enduring a career lull in 1993 and '94 when he battled injuries, he regained and improved his power stroke and emerged as a prime free agent target for the 1997 offseason. Knowing that ownership couldn't afford him, the small market A's swapped him for three pitchers who, as it turned out, accomplished very little during their major league careers. McGwire went on to hit 24 homeruns in 54 games during the remainder of the season for the Cards, setting up his memorable homerun record-breaking season in 1998.

  8. Phillies trade Curt Schilling to Diamondbacks for Travis Lee, Vicente Padilla, Nelson Figueroa and Omar Daal (2000)

    At the age of 33, Schilling's value was at its lowest. His ERA had risen each season since 1997, when he posted a career-best 2.97 ERA as a starter. Hoping that he could regain his health and form as a top starter, the Diamondbacks traded a quartet of average-to-above-average players for him, pairing him with 1999 Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson. In 2001, they became one of the best one-two punches in baseball history, defeating the Yankees in the World Series. Schilling's playoff performance was phenomenal, as he posted a 1.12 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and .150 opponent's BA in 48.1 innings pitched.

  9. Expos trade Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens to Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew (2002)

    After making the playoffs in six of the previous seven seasons, the Indians entered rebuilding mode by sending Colon to the Expos, who were still in the NL East race and making a last-ditch effort to save baseball in Montreal. Colon performed well with his new club, but it quickly faded and became a seller, trading the then-recently acquired Cliff Floyd to the Red Sox just weeks later. Today, Sizemore, Lee and Phillips have eight All-Star appearances between them, and the Washington Nationals have yet to finish a season with a record above .500.

  10. Pirates trade Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to Cubs for Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback (2003)

    The Cubs' near-magical run to the World Series was made possible with the additions of Ramirez and Lofton, who each filled vital roles at key positions of need. The Pirates were determined to dump salary, so when the trade was consummated, its lopsidedness personnel-wise was no secret. The acquisition of an aging, below average third baseman, a borderline major leaguer who shared his name with a character from King of the Hill, and a player to be named later — who turned out to be Bruback, a career minor leaguer — exemplifies why the Pirates, until recently, have been one of the worst franchises in professional sports.

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