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Sunday, July 7, 2013
Best deadline deal ever: Phillies

By Bill Baer
Special to ESPN.com

Over the next month, we're going to present 30 deals in 30 days: The best trade deadline deal ever made by each team.

THE TEAM: Philadelphia Phillies

THE YEAR: 2009

THE SITUATION: The Phillies, arguably much better in 2009 than in 2008 when they won the World Series, needed another top-tier starting pitcher alongside Cole Hamels, who was experiencing uncharacteristic struggles. The Phillies were in serious talks with the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay, but nothing worked out as the Jays wanted top prospect Domonic Brown. GM Ruben Amaro steadfastly refused to trade the young outfielder. Meanwhile, the Indians had fallen from grace after winning the division in 2007. They traded away franchise cornerstone CC Sabathia in 2008 and with fellow lefty Cliff Lee not far away from free agency, they needed to recoup some value in any way they could.

THE TRADE: The Indians sent Lee along with outfielder Ben Francisco to the Phillies for four prospects: pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and pitcher Jason Knapp. Carrasco was the top prospect in the deal, ranked No. 52 by Baseball America entering the 2009 season. Knapp was a hard-throwing right-hander in Class A who would crack the top 100 entering the 2010 season.

THE AFTERMATH: Lee anchored the starting rotation and helped lead the Phillies to their second straight World Series appearance. He posted a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts with the Phillies during the regular season and a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts, including a complete-game victory in Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees. Meanwhile, none of the four players the Indians received have amounted to anything. Knapp suffered injuries and hasn't played since 2010; Carrasco has a 5.31 ERA in 217 major league innings; Donald has a .672 OPS in 603 major league plate appearances; and Marson has been a backup catcher at best with a .609 OPS in 882 PAs.

The Phillies haven't had much to write home about when it comes to trades, having been on the losing end on two of the worst trades in major league history, which sent two future Hall of Famers (Ferguson Jenkins in 1966, Ryne Sandberg in 1982) to the Cubs. The Lee trade, however, has been a franchise trajectory-altering trade in many ways, almost all of them for the better.

-- Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley