Will Manny Machado help the Los Angeles Dodgers end a 30-year championship drought?
We’re sure the Dodgers are hoping so, since they dealt a good chunk of their farm — five prospects — to get him.
Last year, when the Dodgers were running away with the NL West, they added Yu Darvish to the roster, but still lost to the Houston Astros in the Fall Classic.
This year, the NL West is parity central, with L.A. on top by only one-half game and three teams: Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco within striking distance.
The National League, overall, is very tightly packed, which means there may be all kinds of movement on playoff spots.
The Dodgers, by virtue of swinging that big deal, signal that they are ready for a big run. Over the years, many teams have added who they thought would bring them glory. Here are 20 mid-season (trade deadline and waiver) deals that either brought championships, or got teams a good post-season sniff after years of futility.
20. Cliff Lee To Philadelphia In 2009 and To Texas In 2010
Technically, Cliff Lee could occupy two spots here for helping influence the outcome of two teams’ search for playoff success. In 2009, Cleveland dealt the 2008 Cy Young winner to Philadelphia, with OF Ben Francisco, for Carlos Carrasco and three others. The lanky lefty was pivotal in the Phillies drive to the World Series, putting in three solid starts in the NLDS/NLCS (2-0, 20 K, 2 earned runs in 24.1 innings). He did his level best in the Fall Classic, beating the Yanks twice before Philly lost in six. The next year, after being shuffled from Philly to Seattle, the Texas Rangers pulled the trigger on a deal to bring Lee there. He again helped a team make the World Series (where the Rangers lost to San Francisco) and along the way pitched his fourth post-season game that included no walks and at least 10 strikeouts in a victory over Tampa Bay in the ALDS. There have only been eight such performances in league history.
19. Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe Traded To Boston – 1997
This deal would take seven years to bear championship fruit, but for the Red Sox, it was worth the wait. In ’97, the Seattle Mariners were gunning for an AL West title (which they would win) and needed a closer to get them over the hump. They had a tall right-handed prospect in Derek Lowe and a catcher in Jason Varitek who was languishing in AA ball. Those two were sent to Boston then, for hard-throwing Heathcliff Slocumb. He and the Mariners wouldn’t get past Baltimore in the ALDS and by 1999 he was gone from Seattle. Lowe and Varitek, meanwhile, were allowed to percolate with Boston and by 2004, these two would be instrumental in bringing the Bosox their first title in 86 years. Lowe was 3-0 that post-season, including a three-hit, no-run gem over seven innings to beat St. Louis in the ?World Series. Varitek hit .321 in the pivotal ALCS against the hated Yankees, smacking two homers and driving in seven runs.
18. Jose Bautista Traded To Toronto – 2008
Before he became one of the most celebrated home run hitters in Toronto Blue Jays history, Joey Bats was a nowhere man. In the space of one season, 2004, the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Devil Rays all gave up on him. He was then deal to Pittsburgh that season and lasted as an everyday major leaguer until 2008. On Aug. 21 of that year, the Bucs swapped him to the Blue Jays for that infamous “player to be named later.” Two years later, Bautista was a home run champion with 54 bombs and in 2011 he was homer champ again with 43. He would hit six homers over two post-seasons with Toronto in 2015 and 2016 (they didn’t get past the ALCS) and his signature dinger came against Texas in game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. That riot of a game was decided by Bautista’s three-run moon shot in the bottom of the eighth, which was succeeded by the infamous “bat flip.”
17. Scott Kazmir Traded To Tampa Bay – 2004
For the first 10 years of their existence, the Tampa Bay Rays (Devil Rays from 1998 to 2007), were straight up fodder for AL East teams, only once finishing out of the basement. Little did they know that a small trade deadline deal in 2004 that they would pluck a guy who would help lead them to their first post-season appearance. Kazmir, a hard-throwing southpaw in the Mets organization, was packaged up with another minor leaguer for starter Victor Zambrano. While Zambrano quickly went downhill in the Big Apple, Kazmir flourished in Tampa, winning a strikeout title in 2007 and helping the Rays make the 2008 playoffs. He was good in beating the White Sox in his lone ALDS appearance and good in one of two starts as the Rays beat Boston in the ALCS. He fared well in his first start of the World Series (Tampa’s only ever appearance) against Philadelphia, but still took the loss.
16. Manny Ramirez Traded To The Dodgers – 2008
Before this year’s huge Manny deal, the Dodgers made their first big Manny deal a decade ago. Just 20 years removed at that time from a World Series triumph, the Dodgers. much as they are this year, were in a dogfight to win the NL West crown. Enter long-time veteran and 12 time All-Star Man-Ram. The Dodgers were part of a three-team deal on July 31, 2008 involving Ramirez’s Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first 53 regular season games with L.A. Ramirez hit a ridiculous .396, with 17 homers and 53 RBI, helping the Dodgers finish just two games ahead of Arizona for first in the NL West. The Dodgers wouldn’t get past the NLCS in 2008 and 2009 with Manny in the line-up, but the affable outfielder kept on pounding the ball, hitting .386 over 16 games, with five doubles, five homers and 14 RBI.
15. Yoenis Cespedes Traded To The Mets – 2015
Cespedes is no stranger to the mid-season trade, being dealt twice in the span of exactly a year between 2014 and 2015. On July 31, 2014 the former Cuban star and slugger was traded from Oakland to Boston. Then, on July 31, 2015, he was traded from Detroit (who acquired him previous to that season) to the New York Mets for two minor league pitchers (one being Michael Fulmer). Cespedes hit like a house on fire for the Mets over 57 regular season games, batting .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI. He kept up a fairly torrid pace in the playoffs for the Mets, who were in the post-season for the first time in nine years. In the NLDS and NLCS victories over the Dodgers and Cubs, he went 9-for-34 in nine games (.265), including two homers and seven RBI. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, his bat went silent in the World Series (.150 average, one RBI) and his team went down 4-1 to Kansas City.
14. Andrew Miller Traded To Cleveland – 2016
The fruits of the Andrew Miller swap to the Cleveland Indians in 2016 still have to be ripened for the New York Yankees. While they weren’t fleeced in the deal — all four prospects are still around, including Clint Frazier — they certainly helped the Indians out. It really is amazing to us that five teams were willing to give up on the giant hard-throwing lefthander, who is now in his third season with the Tribe. In 2016, the Indians were tops in the AL Central and in position to break a 68-year-old World Series hex. Miller came aboard that summer and was lights in relief, going 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 26 appearances, including 46 strikeouts. In the ALDS against Boston, he allowed just two hits and no runs over four innings, with 7 Ks. Then, against Toronto, he limited the Jays to three hits in 7.2 innings, with 14 more strikeouts. Alas, though, the long-suffering Cubs got to him for three earned runs in four appearances in a hard-fought seven-game finale.
13. David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle Dealt To The Yankees – 2017
Lately, the New York Yankees have prided themselves on the strength of their bullpen. It’s deep, it’s tough and could very well carry them to yet another World Series title this year. After missing the playoffs all together in 2016 and not having won it all since 2009, the Yanks engineered a deal with the Chicago White Sox in July 2017 to bring back closer David Robertson, along with Tommy Kahnle in a seven-player swap. Robertson, converted to set-up man with the presence of Aroldis Chapman, went 5-0 in 30 games for New York, with 51 strikeouts in 35 innings. Kahnle, also a set-up man, appeared in 32 games with a 2.70 ERA and 36 Ks in 26.2 innings. Robertson was great in the ALDS and ALDS, surrendering just one run and striking out 10 in four games, but imploded a bit as New York lost to Houston in the ALCS. Ditto Kahnle, who was slightly less touched up by the Astros. Both could figure huge in the playoff bound Yankees plans in 2018.
12. Jose Quintana Traded To The Cubs – 2017
With Jake Arrieta gone to Philadelphia, it’s incumbent that a guy like Jose Quintana pick up some of the slack at Wrigley. Quintana, acquired from the White Sox before the deadline in 2017, has done just that, after going 7-3 in his first 14 starts for the Cubs in 2017. He was good against Washington in the ’17 NLDS, but faltered against the Dodgers in his two starts of the ALCS. But, the burly Venezualan is still in his prime at 29 and along with Kyle Hendricks is part of a good 2-3 in the rotation this year behind 12-2 Jon Lester. So far this season in 18 starts for the NL Central leading Cubs, Quintana is 8-6, with a 3.96 ERA. After a so-so start, he’s one his last two starts, giving up just two earned runs in 12 innings.
11. Larry Walker Traded To St. Louis – 2004
The Cards were on the cusp of a record breaking season in 2004, eventually winning 105 games, falling one short of a decades old team record. Lo and behold that season, 1997 MVP and three time batting champion Larry Walker was made available by the Colorado Rockies. On August 6 of that year, the Rockies shipped him to St. Louis for three minor leaguers. At that time, a 37-year-old Walker was hitting .324 in 38 games with six homers and 20 RBI. He cranked it up in 44 games in a stacked Cardinals batting order, batting .280 with 11 HR and 27 RBI. It was in the playoffs that year that Walker’s bat did all the talking. In the NLDS against L.A. and NLCS versus Houston, he hit a collective .273, with seven extra base hits (four homers) and eight RBI. Against the juggernaut Red Sox in the World Series, Walker didn’t let up, going 5-for-14 with two doubles, two more homers and three RBI.
10. Boston Clears Decks With Huge Waiver Deal – 2012
This lopsided waiver deal in late August 2012 was a salary dump by the woeful Red Sox that paved the way to glory again in 2013. Mired in last place in the AL East in 2012, the Red Sox shipped out high priced players Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles for James Loney, four minor leaguers and cash considerations. All the extra money left on the table allowed the Bosox to sign players like C David Ross, OF Jonny Gomes, 1B Mike Napoli, OF Shane Victorino, RP Koji Uehara and SS Stephen Drew. All would have a hand in getting Boston back to the post-season and to a third World Series title in 10 seasons. A very sound waiver deal, if ever there was one.
9. Fred McGriff Traded To Atlanta – 1993
The San Diego Padres were a bit of a tire fire in the early 90s and in 1993, were on the way to a 101-loss campaign. One big chip they had to play at the ’93 deadline, then, was 1992 NL home run champ Fred McGriff. The Pads swapped him to the Braves for three players and he made an immediate impact. Over the course of 68 games in Atlanta, McGriff hit .310, with 19 homers and 55 RBI. He then hit .435 in the NLCS, along with a homer and four RBI, as the Braves lost in six to Philadelphia. It was in 1995, though, that McGriff would have his greatest impact on the Braves franchise. After crushing 27 homers and driving in 93 runs during the regular season, McGriff upped the pace in the post-season as the Braves won their first title in 48 years. He hit a collective .333 (19-for-57), crunching six doubles, four homers and driving in nine runs in 14 games.
8. David Cone Dealt To Toronto – 1992
In 1992, the New York Mets deemed former 20-game winner and two-time All-Star David Cone expendable. The Toronto Blue Jays, who were on the cusp of greatness, rolled the dice by trading a young Jeff Kent to the Mets to get Cone. That year, Cone was the lone All-Star game rep for a woeful Mets team, sporting an admirable 13-7 record with 2.88 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 196.2 innings. The Jays were well on their way to a fourth post-season berth and had the horses to win it. Cone was good down the stretch, going 4-3 in seven starts. Against a tough Oakland A’s squad in the ALCS, Cone won his first start, limiting them to one run on five hits in eight innings as Toronto won 3-1. He wasn’t as good in game 5 of the series, but no harm the Jays won in six. Against Atlanta in the World Series, Cone wasn’t that sharp in his first start, but he didn’t have to be, getting a no decision in a 3-1 win. In game 6, however, he paved the way for Toronto’s first championship by going six strong (four hits one run) as the Blue Jays beat Atlanta 4-3 in 11 innings.
7. Orlando Cabrera Traded To Boston – 2004
This trade deadline swap in 2004 was as much about getting rid of the mercurial Nomar Garciaparra as it was for the Red Sox to improve their infield defence for another run at the title. Thus it was that they were willing to send two-time AL batting champ Garciaparra to Chicago in a three-team trade that included Minnesota, to get Cabrera from Montreal. The better-than-average shortstop hit well down the stretch, logging a .294 batting average with six homers and 31 RBI in 58 games. After going 2-for-13 against Anaheim in the ALDS, Cabrera got smoking hot against the hated New York Yankees in the ALCS. He went 11-for-29 (.379), with two doubles and five RBI in seven games. In Boston’s historic four-game victory over St. Louis, Cabrera hit .235 with three walks and three RBI.
6. Ugueth Urbina Swapped To Florida – 2003
Orlando Cabrera wasn’t the only former Montreal Expo to have an impact in the playoffs. In 2003, his former teammate and 1999 saves leader Ugueth Urbina was toiling with the Texas Rangers, who were going nowhere. Urbina was merely average with the Rangers that year and found himself part of a deadline deal with Florida that saw Adrian Gonzalez go the other way. The Fish were in the hunt again after missing the playoffs for five seasons (all after winning it all in 1997) and Urbina was seen as the closer they eventually needed to replace the inconsistent Braden Looper. Urbina was as advertised, fashioning a 3-0 record in 33 appearances down the stretch, with six saves and 37 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. He wasn’t lights out in the post-season, but was very good, logging four saves — two against the Yankees in the World Series — and striking out 14 batters in 13 innings. He recorded his fourth save in the pivotal game 5, and Florida would go on to win in six.
5. David Cone Traded To The Yankees – 1995
While Toronto did well to get Cone at the deadline in 1992 en route to a championship, they didn’t do so well in dealing Cone to the Yanks at the ’95 deadline. Having reacquired Cone before the strike-shortened campaign, he went 9-6 with a 3.38 ERA and two complete game shutouts. But, the Jays weren’t great and sent Cone packing for three players who would have no impact at all. Cone was shockingly good in 13 starts for the Bombers, fashioning a 9-2 mark in 13 starts. The Yankees wouldn’t win the ’95 World Series, however, Cone would be an integral part of three championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999. He was 2-0 in three starts over those three Fall Classics and was 6-1 overall in 14 total appearances for New York while in pinstripes.
4. Aroldis Chapman Dealt To The Cubs – 2016
As we’ve seen in the past few post-seasons, relief pitching has been the secret sauce to a few championships. As pitch counts have been stringently adhered to, the role of set-up men and relievers has become more important. In 2016, the Cubs were one their way to a rare 100-win season and looking very much like legitimate contenders. Available, for the right price, from the New York Yankees was four-time All-Star and hard-throwing lefthanded closer Aroldis Chapman. It cost the Cubs guys like Gleyber Torres and Adam Warren in the swap, but Chapman had 20 saves in 31 appearances for the Yanks and a skinny 2.01 ERA. He was even better after the trade. In 28 appearances for the Cubs, Chapman had a 1.01 ERA, 16 saves and 46 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. He would save three against San Francisco in the NLDS and in the World Series would play a critical role. With the Cubs down 3-1 in game 5, Chapman registered a 2.2 inning save, with only one hit against and four strikeouts. The Cubbies would go on to win it in dramatic fashion in game 7.
3. Johnny Cueto And Ben Zobrist Swapped To Royals – 2015
For every championship team lately, it seems that key ingredients are added last minute. In 2015, the Kansas City Royals were looking to end a 30-year title drought, hot on the heels of a loss to San Francisco in the 2014 Fall Classic. Thus, at the 2015 deadline, the Royals stocked up, grabbing super utility man Ben Zobrist from Oakland (in a deal that included Sean Manaea going to the A’s) and Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati. Both would have a major influence on the Royals long awaited World Series victory. Cueto, who wasn’t bad but wasn’t great down the stretch, dialed it up when it counted in the post-season. After taking a shellacking from Toronto in the ALCS, he was dynamite in his lone start of the World Series against the Mets, allowing two hits and one run in a complete game victory. Zobrist, who seems to lead a charmed life, was a terror at the plate in 16 playoff games, batting .303, with eight doubles, two homers and six RBI.
2. David Justice Shuffled To The Yankees – 2000
Before being sent to the Bronx Bombers in a late June, 2000 trade, David Justice was as much known as a considerable long ball hitter as he was for being tabloid fodder for being married to Halle Berry. In 2000, the two-time 40-HR hitter was having a decent campaign for the Cleveland Indians, batting .265 with 21 homers and 58 RBI in 68 games. Then, he was sent to New York — who were targeting Sammy Sosa — in a trade that included Jake Westbrook and Ricky Ledee going to Cleveland. Justice stayed hot in pinstripes, hitting .305 and clubbing 20 homers (60 RBI) in 78 games. A champion with Atlanta and a seasoned post-season veteran, Justice was huge in the Yankees 2000 championship, even though his batting average was only .206 in 16 games. He was ALCS MVP, with four of his six hits going for extra bases and for driving in eight runs.
1. Curt Schilling Flipped To Arizona – 2000
Before the “bloody sock” and post-season glory with the Boston Red Sox, Curt Schilling was part of a trade that would impact the fledgling Arizona Diamondbacks in a big way. He was traded in the summer of 2000 from Philadelphia to the D-Backs, but it wouldn’t be until 2001 that the fruits of that deal matured. As part of a dynamic duo with fellow starter Randy Johnson, both he and the Big Unit won 22 and 21 games, respectively, in 2001. In the playoffs, Schilling and Johnson were near un-hittable. Schilling started out with two wins over St. Louis in the NLDS, one a complete game three hit shutout and the other a series clinching six-hit, one-run complete game victory. In his lone start of the NLCS against Atlanta, Schilling tossed another complete game, one-run gem with 12 strikeouts. Then in seven-game thriller over the Yankees in the World Series, Schilling was co-MVP with Johnson, going 1-0 in three starts with 26 Ks in 21.1 innings.