The MLB Trade Deadline on July 31 is fast approaching, which means all 30 MLB teams are working to decide whether they should go all-in in pursuit of a World Series championship or instead trade away key pieces of the big league club in return for prospects. In years past, the July 31 deadline wasn’t a hard deadline as teams had an additional month to make any extra trades, yet most of the big trades occurred in July. Throughout this decade, we’ve seen teams make a move that helped themselves win a World Series. We’ve also seen teams load up on prospects that helped create a potential dynasty. Here’s a list of the ten most impactful MLB trade deadline deals since 2010.
1. Yankees trade Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford (2016)
The trade deadline serves as a time for a team to prove that they are all-in on winning a World Series and the Cubs did exactly that when they traded for the flame-throwing All-Star closer. Chapman had been nearly flawless with the Yankees and he was much of the same for the Cubs. Chapman served as the closer that the Cubs desperately needed and was crucial to the Cubs breaking their 108-year World Series drought. For the Yankees, McKinney and Crawford never helped the Yankees. Warren served as a key bullpen piece for the 2017 club that made it to the ALCS. The key piece of this trade was Torres, who was a top prospect at the time and has flourished into a slugging middle infielder who has made the All-Star Game in each of his first two seasons.
2. Tigers trade Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets for Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa (2015)
This trade produced nearly immediate dividends for both sides and it’s one that neither team regrets doing. The Tigers were a middling team in 2015 and chose to sell key pieces right before the deadline. The Mets needed a bat to help uplift a struggling offense and after a trade for Carlos Gomez got nixed, the team targeted Cespedes. In his two months with the Mets in 2015, Cespedes hit 17 home runs and most of them were in key situations. Cespedes practically carried the Mets to a World Series appearance in 2015 and enjoyed his time with the team so much that he agreed to an extension. As for the Tigers, Fulmer was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and showed signs of becoming an ace in the near future.
3. Yankees trade Andrew Miller to the Indians for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen (2016)
Similar to the Chapman trade, the Indians acquired a star left-handed reliever from the Yankees who carried them to the World Series in 2016. Yes, Miller and Chapman went from being Yankees to stars on baseball’s biggest stage. Miller had a Cespedes-like impact on the Indians as he was brought into any situation and routinely escaped jams. He won the 2016 ALCS MVP Award and played a key role in the World Series. As for the Yankees, the two main pieces from this trade were Frazier and Sheffield. Both top prospects have made an impact for New York. Frazier came up in 2017 and has been hit well while playing a part-time role. With a logjam in the Yankees outfield, he could be an important trade chip this year. Speaking of trade chip, Sheffield was the main piece in a trade for former Seattle ace James Paxton.
4. Phillies trade Hunter Pence to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin (2012)
The Phillies got nothing of value in this trade. The Giants got a clutch hitter and former All-Star outfielder who served as a leader in the Giants clubhouse during their championships in 2012 and 2014. While this trade was fairly one-sided, Pence served as the bat that brought the Giants two rings. Pence stuck around with the Giants through 2018 and while his skills began to diminish, the immediate impact that this deadline deal will never be forgotten.
5. Athletics trade Ben Zobrist to the Royals for Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks (2015)
Zobrist’s impact on the 2015 Royals is forgotten due to the impact that he had on the 2016 Cubs but, in the end, Zobrist was a key piece to both teams. Zobrist manned second base for the Royals, which was key since they had talent at the other three positions on the diamond and a black hole at second base. Zobrist’s contact skills proved most important as he hit the grounder that Daniel Murphy booted in Game 4 of the 2015 World Series to allow the Royals to tie the game. The Athletics made the right decision in trading a impending free agent as they acquired Manaea and Brooks. Manaea was the key piece as he has shown signs of becoming a future ace and even threw a no-hitter in 2018.
6. Padres acquire Ryan Ludwick; Cardinals acquire Jake Westbrook and LHP Nick Greenwood; Indians acquire Corey Kluber
At the time of the trade, the Padres seemed like the winners of the trade as they got a slugging outfielder in Ryan Ludwick. But in reality, the Cardinals and Indians won this deal. The Cardinals got Jake Westbrook from the Indians and Westbrook was 12-9 as a pitcher on the 2011 World Series championship team. The Indians got a prospect named Kluber in the deal. All he turned out to be was an ace, a two-time CY Young Award winner and a key part of a team that appeared in the World Series in 2016. In the two years he won the award, Kluber went 18-9 with 269 K’s in 2014 and 18-4 with 265 K’s. He also has made three of the last four All-Star Games and has nearly 1500 strikeouts in his Indians career.
7. Tigers trade David Price to the Blue Jays for Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt (2015)
Price only stayed with the Blue Jays for two months but in those two months, he became Toronto’s ace and helped break the team’s long postseason drought. He was 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA and brought the Blue Jays to the brink of the World Series before they ultimately fell in Game 6 of the ALCS to the Royals. The Tigers acquired some pitching studs in Norris and Boyd. Norris has shown signs of being a mid-rotation pitcher while Boyd has become the ace of a struggling Tigers team in 2019. While his numbers don’t look great, he ranks towards the top of the AL strikeout list and has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball.
8. Rays trade Chris Archer to the Pirates for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz (2018)
This trade makes the list for the potential impact that it brings, rather than actual impact created so far. Archer had been the Rays ace since the departure of David Price in 2014 but the notoriously cheap organization found a new ace in Blake Snell, which meant Archer was expendable. Rather than paying Archer, the Rays sent him to the Pirates. The Pirates lacked a top of the rotation ace for years and finally have one in Archer. Archer will remain a Pirate through 2021 but hasn’t looked like an ace yet as his ERA is over five. The Rays, however, hit the jackpot. Meadows was named an All-Star this season and has become one of the best young outfielders in baseball. Glasnow was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA before he went down with an injury. Both pieces stand to play a huge role for the Rays in the years to come as does Baz, a former first-round pick.
9. Rangers trade Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis (2017)
The Rangers were coming off back-to-back AL West division titles when they decided to sell in 2017. Darvish was known to be the top trade chip in all of baseball in 2017 and the Rangers extracted as much value as they could for two months of the Japanese star. Calhoun ranked as a top 100 prospect in baseball in 2017 and has been a solid hitter in his brief time with the Rangers. The other two players have yet to reach the big leagues. As for Darvish, he went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and served as a solid rotation piece behind Clayton Kershaw. However, Darvish will forever be remembered for his meltdown in the 2017 World Series. In Game 3, Darvish gave up four runs in 1.2 innings. In Game 7, he gave up five runs in 1.2 innings. Darvish left Los Angeles as a disappointment, a villain and a tarnished ace.
10. Orioles trade Manny Machado to the Dodgers for Yusniel Diaz, Breyvic Valera, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, Zach Pop (2018)
Last season, the Orioles had an All-Star on an expiring contract that they knew they couldn’t re-sign in Manny Machado. Rather than coast their way to 115 losses with Machado, they decided to ship him away. This deal doesn’t make the list for who the Orioles got, but instead for who the Dodgers got. Machado slid right into the shortstop hole that was created when Corey Seager went down for the season. Machado hit 13 homers and added 42 RBIs in the regular season and added three more homers in the playoffs. He may not have carried the Dodgers to the World Series but he certainly played an instrumental role in getting them there with his defense and his bat. Machado ultimately departed the Dodgers for the Padres in the offseason but when a team makes a trade that helps them reach the World Series, they usually don’t regret making that trade.