14 years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed an 18-year-old pitcher named Jose Valverde as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Before eventually being traded to the Astros, Valverde spent over a decade in the Diamondbacks' organization, culminating in a 2007 season in which he earned his first All-Star berth and received MVP and Cy Young votes. Let's take a look back at some other notable moves that took place on February 6th over the years….
- In 2009, the Dodgers inked Randy Wolf to a one-year deal with a base salary of $5MM. Wolf ended up earning another $3MM in innings bonuses, racking up 214 1/3 IP in a career-high 34 starts. The left-hander parlayed his strong season into a three-year, $29.75MM contract with the Brewers last winter.
- The Rays signed Eric Hinske to a one-year contract worth $800K in 2008, a big step down from Hinske's 2007 salary ($5.625MM). However, the former Rookie of the Year proved to be not only a bargain, but something of a good luck charm, as his 20 homers helped get the Rays to the World Series – it was the second of three consecutive seasons in which the American League champion had Hinske on its roster.
- On February 6th, 2004, Ivan Rodriguez signed what will be the last eight-figure contract of his career, agreeing to a four-year, $40MM deal with the Tigers. While Pudge's offensive production had slipped by the end of the contract, his 2004 campiagn ranks among his best; the backstop hit .334/.383/.510 and earned his 11th Gold Glove.
- In 2003, the Yankees made a big international splash by locking up Cuban defector Jose Contreras to a $32MM deal. Contreras ultimately ended up winning three games in the 2005 postseason en route to a World Series title. Of course, by then he was pitching for the White Sox, who acquired him at 2004's trade deadline for Esteban Loaiza.
- 1998 featured arguably the most eventful February 6th in baseball transactions history, when both New York clubs made major trades on the same day. The Yankees shipped Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Danny Mota, Brian Buchanan, and cash to Minnesota in exchange for Chuck Knoblauch. Across town, the Mets acquired Al Leiter and Ralph Millard from the Marlins for A.J. Burnett, Jesus Sanchez, and Rob Stratton. It's hard to argue that either New York team lost their respective deals – besides Burnett, none of the players the Yankees and Mets gave up turned into above-average big league contributors. In New York, Leiter recorded a 3.42 ERA in 1360 career innings for the Mets; meanwhile, though Knoblauch's throwing troubles began in 1999 and he and Jeter weren't quite the legendary double-play combo that people expected, the second baseman's arrival in the Bronx coincided with the start of three straight World Series victories.
- Finally, 1895 easily trumped even 1998 in terms of impact on baseball history. No transactions occurred, but a future icon was born on this day in Baltimore, 116 years ago: Babe Ruth.
- Other players involved in February 6th transactions include Jason Varitek, Bengie Molina, Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Darren Oliver, Tim Raines, and, way back in 1934, Dazzy Vance.