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Monday, July 25, 2011
Ten reasons to love the MLB trade deadline

By David Schoenfield

I wrote last week that very few of the game's top players were acquired as prospects in deadline deals (about 4 percent of the top 200 players). Of course, that doesn't means some deals turn to gems. Here are 10 in-season prospect trades that general managers of selling teams dream to make.

1. John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander. (Braves/Tigers, 1987.)


Alexander did go 9-0, 1.53 to help the Tigers win the AL East. Smoltz had a 5.86 ERA in Double-A at the time of the trade with an 86/81 SO/BB ratio, but he was in the majors a year later and an All-Star by 1989.

2. Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen. (Astros/Red Sox, 1990.)

Like the Smoltz/Alexander trade, this was actually an August deal. Bagwell hit .333 but with just four home runs in Double-A. But he actually had the second-best OPS in the Eastern League. A year later, he was the NL Rookie of the Year.

3. Randy Johnson, Brian Holman and Gene Harris for Mark Langston. (Mariners/Expos, 1989.)

The Mariners deal Langston in late May, knowing they wouldn't be able to sign him as a free agent. He went 12-9, 2.39 for the Expos, but they fell out of the pennant race.

4. Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon. (Indians/Expos, 2002.)

Another Expos disaster, a desperate move by Omar Minaya made on June 27 when Montreal was 6.5 games out of first place and 5 games out of the wild card. (By the way, earlier in the year Minaya had traded minor leaguer Jason Bay to the Mets for Lou Collier.)

5. Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps. (Mariners/Yankees, 1988.)

Buhner hit 301 home runs for the Mariners. Phelps hit 17 for the Yankees.

6. Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama for Randy Johnson. (Mariners/Astros, 1998.)

Garcia, Guillen and Halama were all key contributors to the Mariners' playoff teams in 2000 and 2001. As you can see, that original Mark Langston draft pick turned into immense value for the Mariners. Unfortunately, the chain was broken when they traded Garcia for Jeremy Reed (and Mike Morse and Miguel Olivo, although those two didn't do anything for Seattle) and Guillen for Ramon Santiago.

7. Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb. (Red Sox/Mariners, 1997.)

Made minutes before the deadline buzzer, Slocumb wasn't even that good of a reliever.

8. Kevin Tapani, Rick Aguilera and David West for Frank Viola. (Twins/Mets, 1989.)

Aguilera was a proven major leaguer, but Tapani developed into one of the big three Twins' starters (along with Jack Morris and Scott Erickson) on the 1991 World Series champs.

9. Michael Young for Esteban Loaiza. (Rangers/Blue Jays, 2000.)

Nearly 2,000 hits and seven All-Star appearances later, the Rangers are still reaping the rewards of this deal.

10. Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Mark Teixeira. (Rangers/Braves, 2007.)

The Rangers decided to deal Teixeira a year-and-a-half before he hit free agency, and dug into the lower levels of the Atlanta system.

There are certainly some recent deals to keep an eye on; I have a feeling Carlos Santana-for-Casey Blake will eventually enter lists like this one.