Let's take a look back at which teams got themselves an early Christmas present (or a lump of coal) on past December 23rds…
- It's only been a year since the Blue Jays acquired Brandon Morrow from the Mariners in exchange for Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez, but we might already be able to call this trade in Toronto's favor. Morrow posted a 4.49 ERA and a 10.9 K/9 rate in 26 starts for the Jays, the most impressive of which was his 17-strikeout, one-hit, complete game masterpiece against Tampa Bay on August 8. League had a good year himself (3.42 ERA, 2.07 K/BB ratio, 70 appearances) but he and Chavez don't equal a potential ace starter like Morrow.
- Two players that most fans would regard as polar opposites signed free agent contracts on December 23, 2004. J.D. Drew (often criticized for his alleged lack of passion on the field) signed a five-year, $55MM deal with the Dodgers, while the textbook "scrapper" David Eckstein signed a three-year, $10.25MM contract with the Cardinals. Eckstein became a folk hero in St. Louis when he was named MVP of the 2006 World Series, while Drew was reviled in L.A. for exercising an escape clause in his contract to sign a five-year, $70MM deal with Boston after the 2006 season. Drew got some October glory himself the next year, helping lead the Red Sox to the 2007 World Series title.
- You know Arthur Rhodes has played for a lot of teams when today wasn't even the first December 23rd signing of his career. On this day in 2003, Rhodes signed with the A's but ended up struggling in his new closing role. Rhodes posted a 5.12 ERA with Oakland and was dealt to Pittsburgh after the season.
- On this day in 1999, the Mets acquired Derek Bell and Mike Hampton from Houston in exchange for Octavio Dotel, Roger Cedeno and Kyle Kessel in a deal that worked for both clubs. Bell and Hampton were only in New York for one season, but they helped the Mets reach the 2000 World Series. Dotel, meanwhile, was a standout set-up man for Billy Wagner in Houston, posting a 2.33 ERA and a whopping 11.2 K/9 rate between 2001 and 2003.
- Potential Hall-of-Famer Tim Raines was dealt from the Expos on this day in 1990 to the White Sox in a deal that also saw Ivan Calderon go to Montreal. Raines posted a .283/.375/.407 line in five years in Chicago, and then was a key cog on the Yankees' World Series-winning teams in 1996 and 1998.
- The late Sparky Anderson was traded from the Dodgers to the Phillies on this day in 1958. Anderson's only major league experience came in 1959 with Philadelphia (a .531 OPS in 527 plate appearances) and he missed being a part of the Dodgers' 1959 World Series championship squad. Needless to say, Anderson created his own Series memories years later as a manager.
- Finally, the New York Giants purchased Edd Roush for the princely sum of $7.5K from the Newark Pepper on this day in 1915. This set the stage for one of the most historically notable transactions in baseball history the following year, when the Giants sent a package of three future Hall-of-Famers (Roush, Bill McKechnie and Christy Mathewson) to Cincinnati on July 20, 1916. For that bounty the Giants received Buck Herzog (career .664 OPS) and Red Killefer (.642 OPS).