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Thursday, July 21, 2011
Do future stars get dealt at deadline?

By David Schoenfield

Baseball fans are more hyped up this time of year than a bunch of 6-year-olds chewing down an endless supply of Skittles.

If your team is a contender, you hope your general manager can find that missing piece of the puzzle (but not give away anything of value). If your team is out of it, you hope your general manager can make a move for the future. You're buzzed on trade rumors and prospects.

But how many of those prospects actually turn into stars?

I did a quick search of the best players in baseball to see how many were once acquired at the trade deadline while prospects. I looked at 124 hitters and 70 pitchers -- any players with 5.0 or more WAR (wins above replacement) from Baseball-Reference.com.
So that's nine out of 214 players -- about 4 percent. We could also include Carlos Santana, Neftali Feliz and Wilson Ramos, who haven't been around long but I would argue are among the top 214 players in baseball. You could also include Justin Masterson, although he was already an established major leaguer when traded for Victor Martinez.

For the sake of comparison, by my count 89 of the 214 players are still with the team that originally drafted or signed them -- 42 percent. (Note that a few other top players were acquired in the offseason while still prospects, including Jair Jurrjens and Michael Bourn.)

The important note from above is that several of the guys who did develop were older guys -- Zobrist and Cruz were 25; Choo and Young were 23. Hudson was considered more of a fifth-starter type. None of those guys were elite prospects when dealt. Certainly, Andrus, Santana and Feliz would fit that billing of "elite" when traded. Santana had come out of nowhere for the Dodgers in 2008 to put up monster numbers at Class A. Cleveland stole him for Casey Blake. Andrus and Feliz were very young but scouts loved the raw talent.

Add it all up and as you see all the names being moved over the next 10 days, the odds are that most of the prospects traded won't develop into anything.

But it's that lure and small chance of acquiring the next Choo or Santana that makes this time of year tastier than a bag of Skittles.

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.