9 of the Biggest Trades in Baseball History—And How They Worked Out
The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins pulled off a blockbuster deal on Tuesday night that sends Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and others to Toronto in exchange for several young players and touted prospects. Analysts were quick to point out that this deal was more a "fire sale" -- the Blue Jays take on a reported $155 million in the deal -- than about the quality of the players involved. In total, this trade would lead to upwards of nine players, and possibly more, changing teams.
Toronto is known for these big deals: They pulled off a 10-player deal with Houston back in July, and an 11-player deal with two other teams the year before. While we don't know how all the buying and selling will impact the Blue Jays, here's a look back at how some of the biggest trades in MLB history turned out.
1. Yankees and Orioles, 1954: 18 players
On Nov. 18, 1954, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles pulled off the largest deal in MLB history. Baltimore sent Bob Turley, Don Larsen and Billy Hunter to New York for Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, Gene Woodling and Willie Miranda. The deal was completed on December 1 after a Thanksgiving break when Baltimore traded Dick Kryhoski, Mike Blyzka, Darrell Johnson and Jim Fridley to New York for Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, Ted Del Guercio, and a player to be named later (which apparently never occurred). It was what the Yankees needed to propel themselves ahead of Cleveland, who the previous year had gone 111-43 en route to the division win. The Orioles, on the other hand, were coming off a 100-loss season and this deal didn't do much to turn around their luck.
2. A's and Tigers, 1957: 13 players
The Kansas City Athletics traded Billy Martin, Gus Zernial, Tom Morgan, Lou Skizas, Mickey McDermott and Tim Thompson to the Tigers on Nov. 20, 1957, and got back Bill Tuttle, Jim Small, Duke Maas, John Tsitouris, Frank House, Kent Hadley and Jim McManus. The deal wound up favoring the A's slightly, but it also was part of a "pointless frenzy of moves" for the team, according to Hardball Times. As for Martin, the most famous name in the deal, he would be traded away the following year, then three more times the next three years. As talented as he was, Martin simply couldn't control himself and get along with management. Anywhere.
3. A's and Yankees, 1957: 12 players
Just 10 months earlier, Kansas City traded Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and two players to be named later to the New York Yankees for Billy Hunter, Rip Coleman, Tom Morgan, Mickey McDermott, Milt Graff and Irv Noren. Curt Roberts went to Kansas City and Clete Boyer was sent to New York in the spring to complete the deal. Most notably, Boyer became the Yankees' starting 3rd baseman and stayed there for seven years, earning himself five pennants and two World Series championships. These teams loved to deal with each other: Ditmar returned to the A's in 1961.
4. Astros and Padres, 1994: 12 players
A modern blockbuster occurred on Dec. 28, 1994. The Astros traded Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Andujar Cedeno, Roberto Petagine, Brian Williams and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for Phil Plantier, Derek Bell, Pedro A. Martinez, Doug Brocail, Craig Shipley and Ricky Guttierez. The Astros' success was impeded by the 1994 baseball strike, but many fans expected Houston back at or near the top of their division the following year. That became a longshot when the team had to unload Caminiti and Finley in the prime of their careers to help the organization keep their star asset, Jeff Bagwell. Although Derek Bell had some success in an Astros' uniform, the deal wound up helping the Padres a great deal more and it's considered one of the worst trades Houston has ever made.
5. Mets, Mariners and Indians, 2008: 12 players
In a three-team trade on Dec. 11, 2008, the Mets sent Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Jason Vargas, and three minor leaguers (Maikel Cleto, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera) to the Mariners. The Mariners sent New York relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed. In the same deal, the Indians sent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners for Mets' pitcher Joe Smith and Mariners second baseman Luis Valbuena. In the short run, all three teams rid themselves of perceived problem spots and paved the way for others waiting to step in. But none of the young prospects in the deal wound up making a splash in the Majors.
6. A's and Yankees, 1953: 11 players
The Yankees and A's got their trading trend started on Dec. 16, 1953, when New York shipped Jim Finigan, Dan Bollweg, John Gray, Jim Robertson, Vic Power and Bill Renna to the Philadelphia Athletics for Harry Byrd, Eddie Robinson, Tom Hamilton, Carmen Mauro and Lauren Babe. In a move that should surprise no one, the Yankees got ahold of Byrd, a top-caliber pitcher that the A's just couldn't afford to pay. It was a salary relief move that would give Kansas City some young players with which to build their franchise.
7. Padres and Cardinals, 1980: 11 players
The Padres traded Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley, Gene Tenace and Bob Geren to St. Louis on Dec. 8, 1980, for Terry Kennedy, Steve Swisher, Mike Phillips, John Littlefield, John Urrea, Kim Seaman and Al Olmsted. Fingers was then packaged with several others four days later in a seven-player deal with Milwaukee. The Padres, with a roster chock full of forgettable names, finished in last place in both halves of the strike-shortened 1981 season. On the bright side, that spring the Padres drafted Tony Gwynn and John Kruk.
8. Mariners and Rangers, 1980: 11 players
The same week the Padres and Cardinals pulled off their deal, the Mariners and Rangers announced one of their own. On Dec. 12, 1980, Seattle sent Rick Honeycutt, Mario Mendoza, Larry Cox, Leon Roberts and Willie Horton to Texas for Richie Zisk, Rick Auerbach, Ken Clay, Jerry Don Gleaton, Brian Allard and Steve Finch. Yes, that Mario Mendoza, famous for finishing his Major League career with a .215 career batting average and who would be attached to "The Mendoza Line," the line representing futility. The trade didn't seem to help either team.
9. Mets, Brewers and Rockies, 2002: 11 players
The Mets struck a three-way deal on Jan. 21, 2002 when they acquired Jeff D'Amico, Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Mark Sweeney and cash from Milwaukee, and Ross Gload and Craig House from Colorado. New York sent Glendon Rusch to Milwaukee, and Todd Zeile, Benny Agbayani, Lenny Harris and cash to Colorado. Milwaukee also got Alex Ochoa from Colorado. It was all part of the Mets' efforts to revamp their roster in the offseason. Burnitz didn't wind up being the answer for the team looking for a big bat.
Buying in Bulk: Federal League Transactions
A century ago, teams turned to the Federal League for their talent. On Feb. 10, 1916, Chicago Federal League team sold Mordecai Brown, Clem Clemens, Mickey Doolan, Bill Fischer, Max Flack, Claude Hendrix, Les Mann, Dykes Potter, Joe Tinker, Rollie Zeider and George McConnell to the Cubs for cash.
Then, on Feb. 10, 1916, St. Louis Federal League team sold Eddie Plank, Babe Borton, Harry Chapman, Doc Crandall, Charlie Deal, Bob Groom, Grover Hartley, Amando Marsans, Ward Miller, Johnny Tobin and Ernie Johnson to the Browns for cash. Several future Hall of Famers switched teams in their own cities that week. Not a bad way to build a team: all at once.