For many years, the MLB trade deadline has provided contenders in both leagues an opportunity to acquire help in needed areas for the final few months of the season. While we mostly hear about the big names headed to contenders each summer, we often forget about the prospects involved in the deal that in some cases turn into stars.
Most baseball fans know some of the famous ones: Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz, Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell, Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for AJ Pierzynski among many others. But recently, there have been quite a few trades that have netted bottom-dwellers big time players that are starting to become household MLB names.
Here's a few of the names involved in recent trades that are shining, but not yet playing for a contender.
1). 2012 - Blue Jays send Eric Thames to Seattle for Steve Delebar - a simple 1-for-1 deal last year turned into a landslide win for Toronto. Delebar is 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA and was an All-Star in 2013 while Seattle designated Thames for assignment last month
2). 2012 - Brewers trade Zach Greinke to Anaheim for Jean Segura - Greinke is still a quality pitcher, but he only made 13 starts for Anaheim and Milwaukee wasn't going to resign him anyway. Instead, they flipped him to a desperate Angels club at the end of July and now have one of the top shortstops in the game.
3). 2011 - Mets trade Carlos Beltran to SF for Zack Wheeler - Beltran played 44 games as a Giant as SF missed the postseason, and Wheeler is now with the big league club in NY as one of the games top young starters.
But quite a few more deals have had a direct impact on the pennant races so far in '13. All the trades listed came during June/July of 08-13, but there were certainly other deals in the offseason that had a huge impact this season as well, like Baltimore getting Adam Jones for Erik Bedard in 2008.
Here is a list of the top 5 trade deadline deals the last 5 years by "sellers" where the prospects they received are fueling their current October run.
5). Cleveland trades Victor Martinez to Boston for Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price, and Justin Masterson - The Indians used the trade deadline in 09 to acquire their current staff ace in Masterson. Cleveland didn't have the resources to resign V-Mart and used the Red Sox to help them acquire a guy that has led them to 51 wins in the 1st half in '13. Masterson has 3 shutouts this year in 29 starts, including a team high 10 wins.
4). Pirates send Nate McLouth to Atlanta for Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke - While McLouth flamed out in Atlanta, the Pirates got the starting pitching they needed to become a legit contender. Morton has been strong again this year in his 1st 6 starts since coming off the DL and Locke is 8-2, 2.15 ERA and was an All Star anchoring the 56 win Pirates.
3). Arizona trades Dan Haren to Anaheim for Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, and Patrick Corbin - The D-Backs parted ways with an ace in Haren, but he was up for a big contract and Zona was in the midst of a 97 loss season. So, why not move him and stockpile young pitching? Arizona ended up doing better than that, getting Corbin, the 24 year old All Star who is 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA for the division leading D-Backs.
2). A's send Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to Chicago for Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher, and Josh Donaldson - This trade deadline deal in 08 netted Oakland 3B Donaldson, who is an MVP candidate this year for the 1st place A's and is currently hitting .310/.379/.522.
1). Baltimore moves Koji Uehara to Texas for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis - Davis was a big power guy in Texas, but was always high strikeouts/low average at the same time. The Orioles took a chance on the big 1B at the 2011 trade deadline and he's helped power the O's to a contender in the loaded AL East. This looked like a steal last year when Davis hit 33 HR, but the lefty swinger is on a torrid pace in '13, on pace to top 60 HR and 160 RBI.
Now of course guys like Hunter Pence, acquired last year by SF, can help lead their new teams to World Series victories. And, of course, not all prospects amount to much...just ask Cleveland fans
about Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald.
But it's interesting to look back at these deals and see what veterans gave their team a mid-season lift and which prospects turned into All-Stars.
Either way, it's that time of year again with the trade deadline now less than 2 weeks away. And if your team isn't acquiring an arm or bat for the stretch run, take solace in knowing that by dealing one of your veterans, you may end up with a future star.