By now, the dust has settled on the Red Sox shedding $260 million worth of contracts, and everyone is getting settled in to their new teams. Based on the total amount of money involved and the track records of the players involved, this trade could end up going down as one of the most significant in MLB history. But there have been some monumental trades throughout the years. Here are ten huge ones. Keep in mind that I'm trying to look at the deal from both sides as opposed to just "superstar traded for prospects who don't pan out". I'm trying to think of trades that had an impact beyond the field, and were thought of as game-changers.
May 14, 1998: Dodgers trade Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile to Marlins for Manny Barrios, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, and Charles Johnson.
This deal was important for two reasons: first, it was the Dodgers dealing one of the best all-around hitters in baseball, just entering his prime, because they didn't think they could sign him long-term. Secondly, it was part of the Marlins' first fire sale. They had won the World Series in 1997, and dealt nearly every member of that championship team, including Sheffield, one of the most critical parts. It's not as if they were acquiring Piazza for the long-term either: he'd be dealt to the Mets just eight days later for three prospects, with Preston Wilson being the best of the bunch.
February 10, 2000: Mariners trade Ken Griffey Jr to Reds for Jake Meyer, Mike Cameron, Antonio Perez, and Brett Tomko.
This is the most well-known example in baseball of a player holding a team hostage to go to his preferred destination. Griffey wanted out of Seattle, who didn't want to give him a huge money long-term contract, and preferred to go back to his hometown Reds. Finally, the Mariners relented and traded one of the best recognizable faces in the league. After Griffey was traded, he made just three All-Star teams, won no Gold Gloves, and received MVP votes in only one season after MVP votes in nine of ten years with the Mariners and ten straight All-Star teams and ten straight Gold Gloves. Injuries crippled Griffey's career after the deal, and a player who could have been *the* greatest of all-time ended up being "just" one of the best ever.
June 27, 2002: Indians trade Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, and Lee Stevens.
You want to talk about a big trade? How about one that took baseball away from a city? The Expos were teetering in contention in 2002, and GM Omar Minaya wanted to make a playoff push by acquiring Cleveland's ace Colon. Montreal would finish 18 games behind the Braves in the NL East, and 12.5 games behind the Giants in the NL Wild Card race. They'd finish with the same record in 2003, but in fourth place, and plummeted to 67-95 in 2004 before being moved to Washington in the face of dwindling crowds. Meanwhile, Lee would turn into a Cy Young winner and one of the best players in baseball, Phillips developed into one of the best second basemen in the league, and Sizemore was perhaps the best all-around player in the game over a four year span before injuries crippled his career.
November 28, 2003: Diamondbacks trade Curt Schilling to Red Sox for Michael Goss, Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, and Jorge de la Rosa.
This was the trade that started the season that broke the Curse of the Bambino. Schilling won 21 games for the Red Sox in 2004 and was runner-up in the Cy Young voting (for the third time in four years), and of course, started the infamous "bloody sock" game in the ALCS against the Yankees. Schilling turned into a Red Sox legend, a new culture was created in Boston, and the franchise changed forever.
February 16, 2004: Rangers trade Alex Rodriguez to Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias.
A-Rod's tenure with the Rangers lasted just three seasons, but it was the best three season stretch of his career (.305/.395/.615 with 156 homers). After the ten year, $252 million contract he signed before the 2001 season, Rodriguez getting moved to the Yankees was a landmark event in league history. In the nine seaons since the trade, A-Rod has staked his claim to being one of the best players in baseball. As for Soriano, he never lived up to the hype created for him in New York, where he had 30/30 seasons in 2002 and 2003. He went 30/30 for Texas in 2005 before being traded to the Nationals for slop, where he went 40/40 in 2006 before signing a huge contract with the Cubs and becoming a completely different player.
July 31, 2004: As part of a four-team trade, the Cubs acquire Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton, the Red Sox acquire Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera, the Twins acquire Justin Jones, and the Expos acquire Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez, and Brendan Harris.
Speaking of breaking the curse….trading Nomar seemed like something that would never, ever happen as long as the Red Sox wanted to contend. Sure enough, they dealt the injury-prone Boston legend at the 2004 deadline for essentially a defensive upgrade in Cabrera. Garciaparra's career was never the same after the trade, and Boston won the World Series with Cabrera providing some defensive peace of mind for the Sox pitching staff.
July 31, 2007: Rangers trade Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to Braves for Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones.
This trade is the one that comes to the forefront when fans don't want to trade prospects. Four of the five players that the Braves dealt are starters in hte majors, with Jones being the lone exception. Teixeira was a monster in his full year of work for the Braves, but they couldn't re-sign him, and had to trade him at the 2008 deadline for a pair of players that were dwarfed by the package they gave up. The Braves have made the playoffs just once since this deal (2010, long after Teixeira was gone), while the Rangers won the AL pennant in 2010 and 2011, with Andrus, Feliz, and Harrison as key parts of those teams.
December 4, 2007: Marlins trade Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Tigers for Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and Mike Rabelo
This was one of the craziest deals in baseball history that was entirely lopsided in favor of one side. The Tigers dealt a plethora of prospects for the then 24-year old Cabrera, who had 138 career homers and a .929 OPS at that point in his career to go along with a pair of top five MVP finishes. In the five years since the deal, Cabrera has been one of the best players in baseball with 171 homers, a .975 OPS, and three more top five MVP finishes (with a fourth likely coming this season). None of the players the Marlins acquired in the trade are still with the franchise, and the best two of the bunch (Maybin and Miller) were both traded for relievers. Well done, Marlins!
December 21, 2007: Reds trade Josh Hamilton to Rangers for Danny Herrera and Edinson Volquez
Think about this: Josh Hamilton was a former number one overall pick and top prospect in all of baseball, and he didn't make his major league debut until he was 26, eight years after he was originally drafted by the Rays. After a solid, albeit injury-plagued, rookie campaign with the Reds, he was dealt to the Rangers…where he became a five-time All-Star, the 2010 AL MVP, and one of the more polarizing stars in all of baseball. There are so many divergent opinions on Hamilton and his career, and nobody can argue about the buzz that has surrounded the former addict over his career. Seeing a natural talent finally live up to the hype that surrounded him is a pretty awesome thingg, yet there's still a thought in the back of your mind if the house of cards is going to come crumbling down.
July 31, 2008: As part of a three-team deal, the Pirates acquire Bryan Morris, Andy LaRoche, Craig Hansen, and Brandon Moss, the Red Sox acquire Jason Bay, and the Dodgers acquire Manny Ramirez.
This was seemingly the precursor to this weekend's megadeal, four years ago. Ramirez had worn out his welcome in Boston, and the team was desperate to get rid of his contract and his personality. Enter the Dodgers, desperate for an offensive boost. They acquired Ramirez, deemed the city "Mannywood", and watch Ramirez destroy the ball and lead the team to an NL West title in 2008. Then, he got nailed with a 50 game PED suspension in 2009, and dealt with injuries in 2010 before being shipped to the White Sox on a waiver claim. Bay was a young (ish) rising star for the Pirates, and was deemed a perfect fit for the Red Sox…and sure enough, he raked in 200 games with Boston before signing a free agent contract with the Mets that ended up being a disaster for the club. Boston putzed around with left fielders in 2010, finishing third in the AL East, before signing a free agent to fill that spot for the 2011 season. That free agent was Carl Crawford. As for those prospects the Pirates got? Well, only Morris is still in the organization, and none of the four players really gave them much value.