Best and worst in-season trades for each franchise over the last 20 years

ArizonaAtlantaBaltimoreBostonChicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox – CincinnatiClevelandColoradoDetroit
HoustonKansas City – LA AngelsLA DodgersMiami
MilwaukeeMinnesotaNew York Mets – New York YankeesOakland
PhiladelphiaPittsburghSt. LouisSan Diego – San Francisco
SeattleTampa BayTexasTorontoWashington

Houston Astros
Best trade: Acquired Randy Johnson from the Mariners for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama (July 31, 1998)
Johnson only spent two short months in Houston, but he was incredible in those two months, going 10-1 in 11 starts with a 1.28 ERA, 116 strikeouts, and 26 walks while helping Houston win 102 games and the NL Central crown. Even though the Astros were knocked out of the playoffs in the NLDS by the Padres, you can’t blame Johnson – he had a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings in his two starts, both Houston losses in which they scored a total of two runs. And while all the three players that went back to Seattle had decent major league careers, none spent more than six seasons with the Mariners.

I’ll also give Houston credit for their return in the Hunter Pence trade (Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, Domingo Santana) and what they gave up to get Carlos Beltran from the Royals (Octavio Dotel and John Buck).

Worst trade: Acquired Aubrey Huff from Devil Rays for Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist (July 12, 2006)
It’s all about the hindsight, baby. Huff split time between right field and third base for the Astros following this trade, hitting .250/.341/.478 in 68 games. That was it for him though, as he signed with the Orioles a free agent the following winter, and had a legitimately great season in 2008. Talbot didn’t become much of anything in his career, while Zobrist ended up as one of Joe Maddon’s favorite toys after his power suddenly developed. When you combine that newly found power streak with Zobrist’s incredible plate discipline and versatility, you can see why Houston eventually ended up on the wrong side of this deal.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals
Best trade: Acquired Jeremy Guthrie from Rockies for Jonathan Sanchez (July 20, 2012)
The Royals do a lot of dumb things, but this wasn’t one of them. Sanchez proved in 2012 that his disappointing 2011 was *not* an outlier, and the Royals wisely cut bait in July, admitting their trade of Melky Cabrera for Sanchez was a mistake. He only made eight more major league appearances after getting dealt by Kansas City, posting a 10.80 ERA in 25 innings for the Rockies and Pirates. Guthrie was similarly struggling with the Rockies after coming over in a trade for Jason Hammel the prior winter, but unlike Sanchez, he rebounded well after the trade, posting a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts with Kansas City down the stretch. Less wise was the three-year contract extension the Royals handed to Guthrie after the season, but you can do a lot worse than a 4.00 ERA in 66 starts.

Worst trade: Acquired Mark Teahen and Mike Wood from Athletics, along with John Buck from the Astros for Carlos Beltran (June 24, 2004)
I don’t even need to tell you how awful of a return this was for Beltran. He was coming off of three straight 20/20 seasons and a top ten MVP finish, and all you get in return is…a below average catcher (Buck), a third baseman/outfielder who would have two above average seasons in five years (Teahen), and a pitcher who had a 5.28 ERA in three seasons (Wood). This deal was panned at the time, and it’s getting panned a decade later.

I’ll also give them a demerit for trading Jermaine Dye straight up for Neifi Freaking Perez. My god, what the hell?


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Best trade: Acquired Mark Teixeira from Braves for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek (July 29, 2008)
Just like after the Braves acquired him from the Rangers, Teixeira mashed in the second half for his new club, hitting .358/.449/.632 with 23 homers, helping the Angels win 100 games and the AL West crown. Marek never reached the majors, and Kotchman hit a measly .267/.346/.378 in 130 games before getting dumped on the Red Sox for Adam LaRoche. After Teixeira signed with the Yankees that winter, the Angels received a compensation draft pick that they used to select Mike Trout. I’d say that worked out OK.

Worst trade: Acquired Scott Kazmir from Rays for Sean Rodriguez, Matthew Sweeney, and Alex Torres (August 29, 2009)
I’m just gonna call this one the “oh no, not in the face” trade. Before resurfacing in 2013 with the Indians, Kazmir had flamed out in epic fashion with the Angels, making just 35 starts over three seasons and posting a 5.31 ERA while collecting roughly $21 million in salary. The Angels actually did win the AL West and advanced to the ALCS where they fell to old friend Texeira and the Yankees, but Kazmir had a 7.59 ERA in three playoff appearances for the Angels. Sweeney never reached the majors, but Rodriguez is a valuable super utility player for the Rays and Torres was awesome in relief for the club last season before getting traded as part of the deal that netted Tampa Bay Brad Boxberger and Logan Forsythe.


Los Angeles Dodgers
Best trade: Acquired Manny Ramirez from Red Sox for Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris (July 31, 2008)
All of Manny’s accomplishments in Los Angeles are now scarred for life because of his failed PED test in 2009. But let’s be honest here – the Dodgers gave up next to nothing to get him, in a mediocre reliever (Morris) and a disappointing former top prospect (LaRoche). With the Dodgers, Ramirez smashed 44 homers in 223 games, hitting .322/.433/.580. In 53 games after the Dodgers picked him up in 2008, Ramirez hit an insane .396/.489/.743 with 17 homers, finishing fourth in the NL MVP voting. The Dodgers got steamrolled by the eventual World Champion Phillies in the 2008 NLCS, and it was all downhill from there – but those two months of MannyWood were well worth the small price the Dodgers paid.

Worst trade: Acquired Casey Blake from Indians for Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana (July 26, 2008)
After this trade, Blake actually spent the next three seasons with the Dodgers, and cumulatively hit .260/.338/.431 with the team. But trading Santana for Blake was an absolutely ridiculous move. Santana is now a stalwart in Cleveland’s lineup, and has smashed 85 homers in five seasons while hitting .247/.365/.437, more valuable than Blake when you consider that most of his plate appearances came as a catcher. Say what you want to say about Santana’s actual receiving ability, but the Dodgers were trotting out the below average bats of Russell Martin and James Loney at catcher and first base for years while Santana was raking, making this deal look that much more embarrassing.


Miami Marlins
Best trade: Acquired Ugueth Urbina from Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez, Will Smith, and Ryan Snare (July 11, 2003)
This is a tough trade to evaluate. After all, Urbina had a 1.41 ERA in 33 games with the Marlins and helped them in the World Series. But the price – Adrian Gonzalez – may have been a little too high. But the thing is, Gonzalez only played in 59 games with the Rangers before they moved him to the Padres as part of the Chris Young/Adam Eaton trade. Gonzalez, of course, became a superstar in San Diego, and hasn’t stopped hitting since. I’m sure the Marlins would have loved having Gonzalez at first base and in the middle of their lineup during the mid to late 2000s, but that World Championship should be enough to compensate for losing him.

Worst trade: Acquired Carlos Lee from Astros for Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen (July 4, 2012)
I distinctly remember panning this trade when it happened, and sure enough, the Marlins turned into sellers before the month was out. Lee hit .243/.328/.325 as a Marlin with just four home runs, and retired after the 2012 season ended. Rasmussen has been traded three times *since* the Lee deal, but Dominguez might be the real loss – he’s finally tapping into his potential in Houston. As an Astros, he’s hit 38 home runs in 281 games, and is hitting .245/.289/.401. Sure it’s not an elite line, but Dominguez won’t be 25 until the end of August and is still under team control until 2019. That’s a valuable asset to have, especially Dominguez has that right-handed power that so many teams lust after.


About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.