There is no denying that trades are a big part of baseball. There are minor transactions and major blockbuster deals. While some trades eventually work out for both teams, others are lopsided or complete busts all together. In this two-part series, we will look at 10 momentous trades from the last decade.
The Milwaukee Brewers received SP Zack Greinke, and SS Yuniesky Betancourt & the Kansas City Royals received SS Alcides Escobar, OF Lorenzo Cain, SP Jake Odorizzi, and RP Jeremy Jeffress.
In December 2010, the Brewers acquired 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to make a run at the postseason. The heavy price to acquire Greinke paid off, as the Brewers won their first National League Central Division title and finished with a franchise-high 96-66 record. Although the Brewers lost in the National League Championship Series and failed to reach the World Series, it was a move they had to make to be one of the dominant teams in baseball, especially after losing starting pitcher CC Sabathia to free agency in the 2008-09 offseason.
As for the Royals, this trade helped construct a team that would eventually win the World Series in 2015. However, none of the four players the Royals received are still with the team in 2020, and Lorenzo Cain returned to Milwaukee during the 2017-18 offseason via free agency.
The Los Angeles Dodgers received 1B Adrián González, OF Carl Crawford, SP Josh Beckett, and utility man Nick Punto & the Boston Red Sox received 1B James Loney, pitcher Allen Webster, 2B Iván De Jesús Jr., pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, and OF Jerry Sands.
In this nine-player trade, which was completed August 2012, was, at the time, the largest trade in Dodgers-franchise history. It also committed the Dodgers to over $250 million. In hindsight, this was a a completely lopsided traded that only benefited the Dodgers, who acquired three All-Star caliber players that would help them finish first in the National League West with a 92-70 record in 2013. The five players sent to the Red Sox hardly had an impact with their new team.
James Loney was granted free agency at the end of the 2012 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa spent the 2013 and 2014 season with the Red Sox, finishing their stints in Boston with a -0.3 and -0.2 WAR, respectively, in 2014. Both were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the conclusion of the 2014 season for starting pitcher Wade Miley. Iván De Jesús Jr., the 2005 51st overall pick pick, and Jerry Sands were both traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of the 2012 season. Neither Jesús Jr. or Sands saw major league action for the Pirates, and both haven’t played in the MLB since 2016.
The Toronto Blue Jays received SS José Reyes, SP Mark Buehrle, SP Josh Johnson, 2B/OF Emilio Bonifácio, and C John Buck & the Miami Marlins received 3B/SS Yunel Escobar, SP Henderson Alvarez III, SS Adeiny Hechavarría, C Jeff Mathis, pitcher Justin Nicolino, SP Anthony DeSclafani, and OF Jake Marisnick.
This massive 12-player trade between the Blue Jays and Marlins in November 2012 accomplished each teams’ individual goals. For the Blue Jays, it was to be competitive in the American League East. For the Marlins, it was to shed current and future payroll. Over the next three years in Toronto to finish his career, Mark Buehrle threw 604.1 innings with a 3.78 ERA. José Reyes became Toronto’s everyday shortstop from 2013 until he was traded midseason to the Colorado Rockies for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in 2015.
As for the seven-player package the Marlins received, none of the players panned out the way the organization had hoped. Jake Marisnick was traded to the Houston Astros at the trade deadline in 2014. Anthony DeSclafani was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Justin Nicolino last saw MLB action in 2017 when he went 2-3 over 48 inning with a 5.06 ERA for Miami. In four seasons from 2013 to 2016, Jeff Mathis logged a 1.3 WAR in 210 games before landing with the Diamondbacks and eventually his current team, the Texas Rangers.
Adeiny Hechavarría was arguably the most successful player from this trade. Over four seasons from 2013 to 2016, Hechavarría had a 2.1 WAR with a .255 batting average, 152 RBIs, and 189 runs scored in 579 games. In a three-year stint with the Marlins, Henderson Alvarez III logged his best season of his career in 2014, going 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA over 187 innings. He fell off in a shortened 2015 season, going 0-4 with a 6.45 ERA over 22.1 innings. Lastly, Yunel Escobar, before even playing a game in a Marlins uniform, was traded to the Rays for then-minor league prospect 2B/OF Derek Dietrich, who played arguably well in Miami until winding up with the Reds in 2019.
The Detroit Tigers received SP David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays and sent OF Austin Jackson to the Seattle Mariners & the Tampa Bay Rays received SP Drew Smyly and SS Willy Adames from the Tigers and received 2B Nick Franklin from the Mariners.
Now it is time to look back at the David Price sweepstakes from 2014, and the three-team deal that sent him to the Tigers at the trade deadline. The tigers were ready to contend and the best way to do. That was trade for a dominant, young starting pitcher to match with veteran starting pitcher Justin Verlander. The Tigers had acquired a second ace to bolster an already impressive starting rotation. With the support of offensive sluggers like 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera, OF/3B Nick Castellanos, and OF J.D. Martinez.
The Rays found something in Willy Adames, who has enjoyed a decent start to his young career. In two seasons, Adames has a combined 4.2 WAR and seems to be a lock as a starter. Drew Smyly, currently with the San Francisco Giants, hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a 68th overall draft pick. After sticking with the Rays in 2015 and 2016, going 12-14 in 42 games started with a combined 3.99 ERA, Smyly was sent to the Giants midseason in 2019.
Nick Franklin didn’t accomplish much in a Rays uniform, playing only 104 games over two seasons. The former 27th overall draft pick was most recently released by the Pirates in 2019. This trade also foreshadowed a future move the Tigers would make to acquire another big outfield bat in Yoenis Céspedes.
The Red Sox received OF Yoenis Céspedes and Oaklands 2015 Competative Balance compensation B round draft pick & the Oakland Athletics received SP Jon Lester and DH/OF Jonny Gomes.
Yoenis Céspedes was on the move a lot in 2014, going coast to coast from the Oakland Athletics to the Boston Red Sox and eventually to the Tigers, all in a matter of months. The first trade sent Céspedes to the Red Sox and Oakland acquired Jon Lester to creat a high caliber rotation with Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Scott Kazmir.
Unfortunately, the move wasn’t enough for Oakland who lost to the royals in the American League Wild Card game in 2014 and missed the postseason all together in 2015; finishing fifth in the American League West. Jonny Gomes spent the last two seasons of his career playing for four different teams before retiring after the 2015 season.
The Tigers received OF Yoenis Céspedes, RP Alex Wilson, and RP Gabe Speier & the Red Sox revived SP Rick Porcello.
The Red Sox needed to fill a void after trading Jon Lester, so they used the player they had just acquired to land Rick Porcello. Unfortunately for Detroit, the effort to acquire Céspedes didn’t work out as planned, as he was traded to his current team, the New York Mets, midseason in 2015. After one year in the Tigers’ minor league system, Gabe Speier wound up with the Diamondbacks and eventually the Royals. He pitched 7.1 innings in 9 appearances with a 7.36 ERA in 2019. Porcello, on the other hand, turned out to be a hidden gem for the Red Sox. He won the 2016 Cy Young Award, going 22-4 over 223 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 5.1 WAR.