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Best MLB Trade Deadline moves this century

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As we get ever closer to the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, it’s a great time to look back at some of the best Trade Deadline moves in MLB history. With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here is the best Trade Deadline deal each club has made this century:

Blue Jays: Jose Bautista (2008)
This takes us back to a different era of trades. Before 2019, players could be traded up to a secondary “deadline” of August 31, a month after the July 31 Non-Waiver Deadline. The only catch was that they needed to clear revocable trade waivers first, and this is where the Blue Jays made one of the best moves in the organization’s history. Toronto acquired Bautista for Minor League catcher Robinzon Diaz, and while the 27-year-old Bautista had some moderate upside at the time, nobody ever could have expected what would happen next. Just two years later, Bautista set a new club record with 54 home runs and carried the franchise forward to a new competitive era. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter (2011)
The O’s were well on their way to a 14th consecutive losing season when they made a move that helped turn the franchise around. On July 30, 2011, Baltimore dealt right-handed reliever Koji Uehara to Texas, which sent back first baseman Chris Davis and right-hander Tommy Hunter in return. Although Davis had a polarizing end to his time with the Orioles — he mostly disappointed after signing a franchise-record seven-year, $161 million contract in 2016 — the slugger mashed 197 homers from 2012-16, twice leading MLB in home runs (53 in 2013, and 47 in ’15). Hunter spent six seasons in Baltimore, with his best stretch coming from 2013-14, when he had a 2.88 ERA in 128 relief appearances. — Jake Rill

Rays: Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz (2018)
Forced into action by a hot stretch in July 2018, the Pirates dramatically overpaid to acquire starter Chris Archer from the Rays. Tampa Bay has reaped the benefits and could continue to do so for a long time. Meadows was an All-Star in 2019, drove in 106 runs for the Rays’ 100-win team in ’21, and was traded for Isaac Paredes, who’s become one of their best power hitters. When healthy, Glasnow has been among the game’s most electric starters. Baz, who just turned 24, was a top prospect before undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Meanwhile, Archer posted a 4.92 ERA in 33 starts for Pittsburgh and wound up back with Tampa Bay in 2021. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz and Dave Roberts (2004)
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein traded the iconic Nomar Garciaparra just minutes prior to the July 31 deadline as part of a four-team trade in which Boston landed Cabrera from the Expos and Mientkiewicz from the Twins. In a side move, the Sox got speedster Roberts from the Dodgers for Minor Leaguer Henri Stanley. Garciaparra’s star was fading at the time of the trade due to an achilles injury that was limiting him on defense and unhappiness due to an unsettled contract situation. Cabrera and Mientkiewicz improved the team’s defense and Roberts wound up stealing the biggest base in postseason history. Epstein’s gutsy move was a catalyst in Boston winning it all for the first time in 86 years. — Ian Browne

Yankees: David Justice (2000)
The Yankees had won three of the last four World Series, but they appeared to have a championship hangover in June 2000, showcasing a flagging offense and a record that hovered around .500. Enter Justice, who was already a three-time All-Star. Cleveland’s asking price was significant, costing the Yanks pitchers Zach Day and Jake Westbrook along with outfielder Ricky Ledee. It was worth it: the 34-year-old Justice was an absolute force, batting .305 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in 78 regular-season games for the Yanks. Justice won MVP honors in the 2000 AL Championship Series vs. Seattle, then helped the Yankees to their 26th World Series championship in a victory over the Mets. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore (2002)
It’s hard to top what Cleveland got in exchange for right-hander Bartolo Colon and Minor League pitcher Tim Drew in 2002. Colon was an All-Star in his sophomore season in 1998, and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting in ’99. He owned a 2.93 ERA at the time of the 2002 Trade Deadline, but because he was set to be a free agent in ’03, and there was little hope for a playoff run, Cleveland’s front office decided to make a move, acquiring first baseman Stevens and three prospects from the Expos: Sizemore, Lee and Phillips. In retrospect, it was a huge win, as Lee went on to win 90 games for Cleveland and secured a Cy Young Award in ’08. Sizemore was one of the best outfielders in baseball from 2005-08. — Mandy Bell

Royals: Ben Zobrist (2015)
Within a span of a couple days before the Trade Deadline, the Royals traded for Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, and both were crucial to Kansas City’s World Series title that year. Cueto was brilliant in the playoffs and could easily be the answer here. But we’ll go with Zobrist, whom the Royals acquired from the A’s for pitching prospects Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea. Zobrist turned into a linchpin for that team, playing second base and the outfield, and helped the Royals clinch their first World Series title in 30 years. He hit .284 with 37 runs scored, 16 doubles and seven homers after the Royals acquired him on July 28, 2015. In the postseason, Zobrist batted .303 with two homers and six RBIs. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: Doug Fister (2011)
This was a classic Dave Dombrowski deadline trade, dealing prospects at peak value and getting a player on the upswing. Ubaldo Jiménez had far more buzz on the market before going to Cleveland, but the Tigers looked beyond Fister’s 3-12 record in Seattle and saw a pitcher with quality stuff and durability. Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA down the stretch for Detroit, became a clutch postseason starter and was a mainstay in Detroit’s rotation through 2013. Reliever Charlie Furbush was the only player in the deal who found a role in Seattle. — Jordan Beck

Twins: Joe Ryan (2021)
This isn’t a successful Trade Deadline move in the traditional sense — that is, a finishing piece to a winning roster that needed to fill some gaps or push the talent over the top. This was, instead, a selling move for an underachieving and disappointing team that has the potential to profoundly impact the franchise for the better part of a decade. The Rays needed a big bat, and the Twins offered two months of Nelson Cruz. Tampa Bay sent over Ryan, who was throwing almost exclusively fastballs at the time and wasn’t universally considered a slam dunk to become an MLB starter. Well, the Twins finished Ryan’s development as he found two legit secondary pitches, and he’s now arguably the best starter in one of the Majors’ best-performing rotations. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Jose Contreras (2004)
Esteban Loaiza was the runner-up in 2003 AL Cy Young Award voting, but he struggled for the White Sox in ’04. Contreras was facing similar struggles for the Yankees, but the White Sox got the best of the deal with Contreras posting career-best numbers in ’05 and starting Game 1 in all three playoff series leading to a World Series title. Let’s also not forget the White Sox adding infielder Geoff Blum from the Padres on July 31, 2005, with Blum hitting one of the franchise’s most iconic home runs during Game 3 of the ’05 World Series. — Scott Merkin

Angels: Mark Teixeira (2008)
The 2008 Angels remain the only club in franchise history to reach 100 wins in a season and they did it with the help of Teixeira, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Braves for a light return that included first baseman Casey Kotchman and pitcher Stephen Marek, who never reached the Majors. Teixeira hit .358/.449/.632 with 13 homers, 14 doubles and 43 RBIs in 54 games after the trade. He also went 7-for-15 against the Red Sox in the AL Division Series, but the Angels lost in four games. They tried to re-sign him in the offseason, but he ultimately left to sign with the Yankees. It wasn’t all bad, however, as the Angels received Draft pick compensation as a result and took superstar Mike Trout with that selection in 2009. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Justin Verlander (2017)
When the surging Astros didn’t acquire a starting pitcher at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel said “disappointment was a little bit of an understatement.” That sentiment changed a month later when the Astros pulled off a last-second deal to acquire Verlander from the Tigers at the Aug. 31 deadline in exchange for prospects. Keuchel even called Verlander and helped convince him to waive his no-trade clause. Verlander helped the Astros win the World Series that year — he was the MVP of the ALCS — and went on to win two Cy Young Awards, two World Series titles, throw his third no-hitter and reach 3,000 career strikeouts in five-plus terrific years in Houston. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Jermaine Dye (2001)
Dye, who was acquired from the Royals in a three-team deal about a week before the 2001 Trade Deadline, boosted the A’s offense en route to a 102-win season by hitting .297 with a .913 OPS, 13 homers, 17 doubles and 59 RBIs in 61 games with Oakland. Dye’s season came to an unfortunate and premature end when a foul ball off his left knee broke his leg in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees that October, a series that New York won in five games.— Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Luis Castillo (2022)
A team on the cusp of greatness took a significant step forward after Seattle’s front office mortgaged three of its top five prospects to acquire the top starting pitcher at the Deadline. Castillo’s biggest performance came during Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series in Toronto, when he blanked the juggernaut Blue Jays over 7 1/3 innings to help ensure that postseason baseball returned to Seattle for the first time since 2001 via the ALDS against Houston one week later. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Elvis Andrus, Neftalí Feliz, Matt Harrison (2007)
Probably the best trade of the Jon Daniels era, Texas received three future All-Stars and two key pieces of the 2010-11 teams that reached the World Series when the club sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. Andrus was a cornerstone of the franchise, spending 12 years as the Rangers’ shortstop. Feliz and Harrison earned All-Star selections on the ’11 team that ultimately fell to the Cardinals in the World Series. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario (2021) 
It’s hard to pick which of these four acquisitions proved to be the most valuable. The Braves needed to find an outfielder to account for the absence of Ronald Acuña Jr., who tore his ACL two days before the All-Star break. Pederson helped create confidence within the clubhouse and Duvall hit some big home runs down the stretch. Rosario was the NLCS MVP and Soler was the World Series MVP. It’s pretty hard to top that collection of deadline acquisitions. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: Ugueth Urbina (2003)
The Marlins acquired Urbina, at the time the owner of 200 career saves, from the Rangers for 2000 MLB Draft first overall pick Adrián González. Urbina recorded six regular-season saves, then added four during the World Series run for the underdog Marlins. While González would go on to become a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, surely there is no better evidence of the trade paying off than Urbina playing a pivotal role in winning a title. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: Yoenis Céspedes from the Tigers (2015)
First, the Mets agreed to terms on a deal to acquire Carlos Gómez from the Brewers. When that fell through (and Wilmer Flores famously wept on the field), the Mets pivoted to Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. Only after exploring those options did the Mets finally land on Céspedes, acquiring him for Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer minutes before the deadline. He wound up being one of the most impactful rentals in Trade Deadline history, hitting 17 homers with a .942 OPS over 57 games with his new team. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Trea Turner (2014)
In December 2014, the Nationals made a multi-team trade with the Padres and Rays that involved 11 players, including a player to be named later. On June 14, 2015, that player became 2014 first-round pick Trea Turner. At the time, there was a rule that required a player to stay with his original team for a year after he was drafted. Once that year was up, Turner became a member of the Nationals. He went on to be a key piece of their 2019 World Series championship team and hit .300 with 192 bases in six-plus seasons for Washington. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Cliff Lee (2009)
The Phillies tried to pry Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays in July 2009, but they could not reach an agreement with Toronto. So Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. pivoted at the last minute, and landed Lee and Ben Francisco from Cleveland for a four-prospect package that included Carlos Carrasco. Lee stabilized the Phillies’ rotation down the stretch, helping them get to the World Series. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: CC Sabathia (2008)
Sabathia spent only three months in a Brewers uniform but he is one of the most beloved players in franchise history because he was the key to ending a postseason drought that had spanned nearly three decades. Acquired from Cleveland, he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 regular-season starts for Milwaukee, including seven complete games. One of them was one of the biggest victories in Brewers history — a win over the Cubs in the 2008 finale that clinched the NL Wild Card. Sabathia’s final three starts of the regular season and his start in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Phillies all came on three days’ rest. Then-GM Doug Melvin called it the most unselfish act he’d ever seen from a player. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Scott Rolen (2002)
It’s rare when a team can say it traded for a future Hall of Famer, but that’s what the Cardinals did on July 29, 2002, when they dealt Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin and Bud Smith to the Phillies for Doug Nickie and the slick-fielding Rolen. The All-Star third baseman won four of his eight career Gold Glove Awards while with St. Louis. He also teamed with Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds to help the Cardinals reach two World Series and win one in 2006. On July 23, Rolen will go into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a Cardinals hat adorning his plaque. Honorable mentions include acquiring Edmonds from the Angels in 2000; Matt Holliday from the A’s in 2009; Adam Wainwright from the Braves in 2003; Paul Goldschmidt from the D-backs in 2019, and Nolan Arenado from the Rockies in 2021. — John Denton

Cubs: Jake Arrieta (2013)
The Cubs moved early with this trade, pulling off what wound up being a lopsided swap with the Orioles on July 2, 2013. In order to acquire future ace Arrieta along with reliever Pedro Strop, Chicago sent righty Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to Baltimore. Arrieta blossomed into one of the best arms in baseball by 2015, when his historic second half led to a Cy Young Award. Strop developed into an elite setup man and one of the great relievers in club history. Without this trade, maybe the Cubs don’t hoist that World Series trophy in 2016, ending the club’s 108-year title drought. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Oneil Cruz (2017)
This one took several years to bear fruit. At the 2017 Trade Deadline, the Pirates flipped Tony Watson to the Dodgers in exchange for Cruz, as well as right-hander Angel German. Watson was an invaluable piece of the Dodgers’ bullpen as they made their way to the World Series. He departed the following offseason for the Giants. As for Cruz? It’s still early, but in the time he’s been on the field, he has displayed a combination of power and speed that no one can truly replicate. He has 19 home runs and 13 steals in 98 career games, and while he’s currently recovering from a fractured ankle, Cruz projects to be part of Pittsburgh’s future for years to come. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: Scott Rolen (2009)
The Reds were largely out of contention when they acquired the future Hall of Fame third baseman from the Blue Jays for Edwin Encarnacion, reliever Josh Roenicke and a Minor League pitcher. But then-GM Walt Jocketty made the move with a look to the future. Jocketty wanted Rolen’s example and leadership to create a culture change and boost younger players like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Rolen didn’t have his best production in the final three years of his career, but his presence was felt and rubbed off on the others. It helped pay off in 2010 and ’12, when the Reds won the NL Central division. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: J.D. Martinez (2017)
It was tempting to go with the 2000 Trade Deadline acquisition of Curt Schilling from the Phillies here, but the D-backs failed to make the playoffs that year so it would be another year before Schilling helped them to a World Series championship. Meanwhile, GM Mike Hazen’s trade for Martinez in 2017 paid immediate dividends. The D-backs sent Minor Leaguers Jose King, Sergio Alcantara and Dawel Lugo to the Tigers for Martinez. Hazen jumped the gun on the deadline, completing the deal on July 18, which gave the D-backs an extra two weeks of production. Martinez hit 29 homers for Arizona after the trade, including four in one game at Dodger Stadium, as the D-backs rode his hot bat to the top NL Wild Card Spot.— Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Max Scherzer and Trea Turner (2021)
The Dodgers, especially under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, have made plenty of big trades at the Deadline. In 2018, they acquired Manny Machado from the Orioles. 10 years before that, Los Angeles got Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox. But of all the really impactful trades the Dodgers have made, it’s tough to argue with the ’21 deal with the Nationals that landed them Scherzer and Turner. Scherzer gave the Dodgers another ace atop the rotation. Turner was a perfect addition to the Dodgers’ lineup and he was one of the top hitters in the NL during his year-and-a-half stint in L.A. It didn’t result in a championship, but the deal did help the Dodgers secure a combined 217 regular-season wins. — Juan Toribio

Giants: Hunter Pence (2012)
Locked in a tight division race with the Dodgers, the Giants sought to strengthen their club by acquiring Pence from the Phillies in exchange for Nate Schierholtz and prospects Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin. Pence became San Francisco’s starting right fielder, giving the club another big right-handed power bat, as well as an inspirational leader who helped fire up the clubhouse during the Giants’ World Series runs in 2012 and ’14. — Maria Guardado

Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. (2016)
It wasn’t exactly “the Tatis trade” at the time. The Padres sent veteran right-hander James Shields to the White Sox in a deal that netted righty Erik Johnson and a scrawny, unknown shortstop prospect who quickly developed into one of the game’s most exciting players. The Padres have since pulled off a handful of deadline blockbusters under general manager A.J. Preller, including deals for Juan Soto and Josh Hader last summer. But the Tatis trade remains a coup for the Padres, who sold high on Shields to a White Sox team looking to get out in front of the trade market. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Seung-hwan Oh (2018)
Former general manager Jeff Bridich left three seasons later, maligned — one reason was a sense that he didn’t make bold enough moves when the team was in contention. Oh, acquired from the Blue Jays, didn’t qualify as high profile. Whether the Rockies could have done more is still being debated. But in 25 appearances, Oh went 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA, one save and a sparkling 189 ERA+. Also, Oh pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings over the 10th and 11th innings of the Rockies’ most-recent postseason victory, a 2-1, 13-inning win over the Cubs in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game. — Thomas Harding

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