Trades of the Decade Rumors

Discussion: The Trade Of The Decade

Over the last month or so, we've been taking a look at the decade's biggest trades. Here are some of the moves that defined, enabled and inhibited teams throughout the 2000s.

With just weeks remaining in the decade, it's time to decide: Which one of those trades do you consider the biggest deal of all? The best? The worst?


Trades Of The Decade: A-Rod For Soriano

You might remember that the Red Sox were very nearly the ones to acquire Alex Rodriguez when the Rangers made him available after the 2003 season. According to USA Today, the reigning MVP would have gone to Boston, Manny Ramirez would have gone to Texas and the Red Sox would have dealt Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox. The blockbuster Red Sox-Rangers deal fell through when the MLBPA stepped in, providing the Yankees with the opportunity to acquire Rodriguez.

That's exactly what Brian Cashman did on February 16th, 2004. The Yankees obtained the 28-year-old shortstop for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (the Yanks would eventually send Joaquin Arias to the Rangers to complete the move).

Rodriguez OK'd the deal, waiving his no trade clause and agreeing to move to third base because of incumbent shortstop Derek Jeter, but the Commissioner's office had to approve the move, too. Bud Seilg gave the deal his blessing because of the "unique circumstances" of Rodriguez's contract.

The Rangers took on $67MM of the $179MM A-Rod was still owed under his historic $252MM contract, though they did save some of it when A-Rod opted out of the deal. (Texas is still paying Rodriguez under his previous contract, even though the Yankees signed him to a new deal two winters ago.) 

The Rangers ultimately saved money, despite the salary they still owed A-Rod. Soriano was set to earn $5.4MM in 2004, his first season of arbitration-eligibility, and the difference between the two stars' salaries contributed to the Rangers' decision.

"We need flexibility," Rangers GM John Hart told USA Today. "It's a win for the Rangers, Yankees and Alex."

The Rangers needed flexibility because they'd handed out bad contracts to expensive non-contributors like Rusty Greer, Jeff Zimmerman and Chan Ho Park.

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus said the Rangers should have tried to create financial flexibility in some other way. He wrote that trading A-Rod to subsidize the Park deal was "unbelievably dumb," even though the Rangers "made a great decision in 2000," when they signed Rodriguez to the record-setting deal.

To replace A-Rod, the Rangers obtained an All-Star caliber player in Soriano, and a minor leaguer. Arias, now 25, has a .748 OPS in 141 big league plate appearances, but isn't considered much of a prospect now.

Soriano hit .274/.316/.498 in two seasons for the Rangers, with 64 homers and characteristically poor pate discipline. (In case you're wondering, FanGraphs says he was worth the $12.9MM he cost them.) The Rangers would go on to flip Soriano to the Nationals for Armando Galarraga, Termel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson after the 2005 season.

Two years of Soriano at market value doesn't seem like much for A-Rod, but as Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News pointed out right after the trade, the Rangers had limited negotiating power. In a sense, they had to take what they could get.

A-Rod, meanwhile, faced intense pressure in New York. Soon after the trade went through, George Steinbrenner said Rodriguez had the potential to make a Reggie Jackson-esque impact on the club. A-Rod has since made the occasional faux pas, endured a postseason demotion and admitted to banned substance use, but he hasn't stopped producing.

In six seasons with the Yankees, Rodriguez has averaged 40 homers and 20 steals, hitting .300/.401/.567 and winning a pair of MVP awards. The Yankees have paid him generously and FanGraphs suggests he's earned his money. It would have cost $156MM to replace that production on the open market and Rodriguez has earned a base salary of $157MM so far. Now that he's been part of a World Series champion, A-Rod has done it all in New York.


Trades Of The Decade: Teixeira To The Braves

Once the Braves acquired Mark Teixeira before the 2007 trade deadline, they started thinking of themselves as a World Series contender. They were 4.5 games behind the division-leading Mets and 3.0 games behind the Phillies, but there was still a sense of excitement when GM John Schuerholz made the move.

"We've got the team to win the World Series," Brian McCann told the AP. Tim Hudson and Edgar Renteria echoed McCann's comments, and why not? The Mets added Luis Castillo and the Phillies added Kyle Lohse, but the Braves acquired a premier bat who was still a year and a half away from free agency.

Scott Thorman had been playing first regularly before the trade, so Teixeira was an immense upgrade. To acquire Tex and and Ron Mahay, the Braves sent Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Rangers.

The Braves gave up their top three prospects in the deal – Saltalamacchia, Andrus and Harrison – so Baseball America called it a a "good haul" for GM Jon Daniels.

Saltalamacchia had potential to "blossom into one of the game's best catchers," but he was expendable to the Braves, who had Brian McCann. They could also afford to deal Andrus because of shortstops Edgar Renteria, Brent Lillibridge and Yunel Escobar.

Saltalamacchia had already arrived in the big leagues at the time of the trade, but Andrus was just 18. Baseball America considered him a "classic projection prospect" because no one was sure he would hit enough to become a major league regular. He was still raw, but Daniels said he had to obtain more than draft choices for his first baseman.

"We said we were not going to allow ourselves to run the course on [Teixeira's contract] and not have anything to show for it," Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Braves were willing to give so much up because Teixeira was one of the best all-around first basemen in baseball. They finished 84-78, 5.0 games behind the Phillies, but it was in spite of their big acquisition; Teixeira hit .317/.404/.615 down the stretch, with 17 homers.

They traded him to the Angels a year later for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek. Not much, in comparison to the bounty they gave up for Teixeira.  Kotchman was later flipped to Boston for Adam LaRoche, who is now a free agent.  One other remnant of the trade is lefty Brett DeVall, who the Braves drafted last year with a supplemental pick for the loss of Mahay.

  • Harrison has been hittable in parts of two major league seasons and he missed the second half of this season with an injury, but he's 24 and just two seasons removed from top prospect status.
  • Andrus hit .267/.329/.373 as a rookie this year and was one of the best defensive shortstops around, according to UZR. He just turned 21 in August.
  • Saltalamacchia hit .233/.290/.371 this year before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. He hasn't come close to actualizing the 25 homer potential he had a couple years ago and questions about his defense linger.
  • Feliz, 21, astounded in his major league debut this summer, striking out 39 and walking just eight in 31 innings. The incredible part? He allowed a mere 13 hits. He's not likely to sustain those rates, of course but he is a top prospect and could crack the team's rotation as soon as next year.
  • Jones has yet to play in the majors, but the 23-year-old struck out 11 batters per nine innings in the Rangers' system this year. 

That's better than a "good haul." Without the Teixeira trade, the Rangers wouldn't have such a highly-regarded farm system and might not be as well-positioned to contend annually. Before the trade, the Rangers offered Teixeira $140MM to sign long-term. Looking back, they must be thrilled he didn't accept.



Trades Of The Decade: Hanley Ramirez For Josh Beckett & Mike Lowell

The only sure thing the Marlins obtained on Thanksgiving Day 2005 was salary relief. Yes, they acquired Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia and Anibal Sanchez, but none of them were considered certainties. For the four players, the Marlins gave up Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota.

The Marlins had to shed payroll, but they weren't going to relinquish Beckett in a deal that didn't include a top prospect. Hanley Ramirez fit that description perfectly. Baseball America named Hanley Boston's top prospect every year from 2003-05 and they considered him one of the game's most promising players.

But Hanley hit a pedestrian .297/.352/.430 in the minors, never tallying more than eight homers in a season. So Baseball America's Jim Callis described him as "something of an enigma" at the time of the trade.

"He has the bat speed, raw power and pitch recognition to hit .300 with 20-plus homers per season," Callis wrote. "But he has yet to show the focus and preparation to get him there."

Beckett, meanwhile, had already graduated from top prospect status to become one of the game's best young pitchers. In his last season with the Marlins, Beckett, then 25, pitched to a 3.37 ERA in 29 starts, lighting the radar gun up with a fastball that helped him strike out nearly three times as many batters as he walked. It didn't hurt that he was named 2003 World Series MVP after pitching the Marlins past the Yankees.

Beckett had a history of blister problems, but the Texan still drew interest from a number of teams, including the Rangers. He was two years away from free agency, set to make $4-5MM in arbitration.

In just one season, Mike Lowell had become a major hindrance for the Marlins. After averaging 25 homers per season in the five years preceding 2005,  Lowell stopped hitting. He managed just a .236/.298/.360 line with just 8 homers in 150 games. He was due to earn a total of $18MM in 2006 and 2007, so the Marlins couldn't afford his contract 

The Red Sox, under Bill Lajoie and Craig Shipley, could absorb it, so they took it on, insisting that the third baseman could revive his career.  Theo Epstein was on leave at the time of the deal.

"It's not that we had to take Mike," Lajoie told the Boston Herald. "It's that we wanted Mike.''

The Red Sox were onto something. Lowell has turned in four solid seasons with the club, hitting about 20 homers per season and never posting an OPS below .798. The former Gold Glover lost a considerable amount of range this year (according to UZR) after undergoing hip surgery last offseason.

Much to the dismay of Red Sox Nation, Beckett struggled throughout his first season in Boston, allowing 36 homers and posting an ERA over 5.00 for the first time in his career. But he's been effective and durable since and hasn't come close to matching that 5.01 ERA. Only a handful of pitchers have out-performed Beckett since his first season in Boston, even though he's been playing in the AL East.

When Beckett won 20 games and Lowell slugged .501 in 2007, the Red Sox won it all. That World Championship alone makes this deal worthwhile for the Red Sox, despite what they gave up.

Hanley is one of the game's best players now, but as Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe wrote at the time, he was far from a sure thing in 2005.

"What's the worst that can happen here?," Ryan wrote. "Hanley Ramirez turns out to be the next Barry Larkin or maybe even Derek Jeter?"

Four years later, Baseball-Reference lists Jeter as the most statistically comparable player to Ramirez (for his age) in baseball history. Hanley hasn't posted an OPS below .940 since his 2006 Rookie of the Year campaign and this year's NL batting champ has even become an average defender at shortstop, according to UZR.

Hanley wasn't even the only useful player the Marlins acquired. Control issues still trouble Sanchez, who's now 25, but he can strike people out and he pitched well this past season. It all came together for him when he no-hit the Diamondbacks in 2006.

Could the trade have worked out any better for the two clubs? The Marlins got the salary relief they needed and an elite shortstop to build around. Beckett and Lowell led the Red Sox to their second World Championship of the decade.

But that doesn't mean they wouldn't like Hanley back. Theo Epstein has tried to reacquire him before, so it's not hard to imagine a return to Boston.


Trades Of The Decade: Manny To Dodgers, Bay To Red Sox

It's not hard to tell when Manny's unhappy. And a year and a half ago, Manny had had enough. He wanted out of Boston and it wasn't long before he pushed the team's traveling secretary over and told ESPNDeportes "the Red Sox don't deserve a player like me."

So it was hardly surprising that Theo Epstein dealt Manny Ramirez on July 31st, 2008. But it looked as though Manny was headed to the Marlins, so when the Dodgers acquired him in a three-way deal, it was a surprise. The blockbuster was unexpected for a number of reasons; Jason Bay, who would replace Ramirez in front of the Green Monster, was supposed to be headed to the Rays.

Happy or not, Manny was in the midst of a typically productive season when the Red Sox sent him to Hollywood – he was hitting .299/.398/.529 with 20 homers. As Joe Torre told USA Today at the time, it's hard to resist a player like Manny.

"I don't think there's a manager in baseball who wouldn't say they're interested," Torre said.

The Dodgers' interest paid off. Manny finished the year on a tear, hitting close to .400 and reaching base in almost half his plate appearances en route to a 1.232 OPS in the National League.

Jason Bay didn't match those numbers in Boston – who could? – but his OPS approached .900 and the Red Sox made the playoffs. Perhaps most importantly, the Red Sox had a left fielder who could produce without distracting those around him. As a bonus, the Red Sox had Bay under control for just $7.5MM in 2009, whereas Ramirez was set to explore free agency.

Another coup for the Red Sox, but the deal could hardly have worked out better for Ned Colletti's Dodgers. The Red Sox paid Manny the $7MM remaining on his deal as he dominated the NL and charmed Dodgers fans in the process. From the homers, to the jerseys to the wigs, Mannywood took over Chavez Ravine.

Meanwhile, the Pirates acquired four players for Bay. GM Neal Huntington obtained Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche from Dodgers and the Red Sox added Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss.

Dejan Kovacevic reported this spring that the Pirates had the chance to obtain Cliff Lee, Franklin Gutierrez and Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for Bay and Ronny Paulino before they sent their left fielder to Boston. That would have been a haul to remember, but the Pirates still obtained value for Bay.

LaRoche started to hit last year and he plays a strong third base, according to UZR/150. Moss, Hansen and Morris haven't shown nearly as much promise since the Pirates acquired them, however. The Pirates might get more value from LaRoche than they would have by holding onto Bay until free agency, though the latter choice would've netted them two draft picks.


Trades Of The Decade: Pierzynski For Nathan, Bonser, Liriano

Trading A.J. Pierzynski made sense. Joe Mauer was thriving in the upper minors, so the Twins had a cheap, young catcher ready to contribute. They had even less payroll flexibility than they do now, and Pierzynski was about to become expensive.

Twins GM Terry Ryan obtained prospects Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano for Pierzynski, but as Ryan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune at the time, Joe Nathan was the centerpiece of the trade.

"We feel good about Nathan coming back," Ryan said. "He's a major league guy who has been tested and who is talented."

The Giants called on Nathan 78 times in 2003 and he responded with a big year. The righty struck out 83 batters in 79 innings, allowing just 51 hits and 33 walks for a 2.96 ERA. Nathan's tenure with the club ended badly, however. He allowed three runs to the Marlins in the NLDS before storming off the mound.

Some thought Nathan had closer potential, but Sabean wasn't convinced.

"Whether someone is going to be a closer or a front-line starter is a lot of speculation," Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle. "That is not necessarily the organization's view of the world."

The Giants had Yorvit Torrealba around, but they admired Pierzynski's play so much they couldn't pass up the chance to make a trade.

"It's not often you can send a reliever and two prospects away for a front-line, All-Star, left-handed hitting catcher," Sabean said.

That left-handed hitting catcher interested a variety of clubs. The Cubs, Padres and Orioles were among the teams who saw lots to like in the backstop. At 26, Pierzynski had a lifetime average of .301 and a career OPS of .788. He had just established career highs in every offensive category of consequence and was under team control for three more seasons.

Pierzynski hit .272/.319/.410 with 41 extra base hits for the Giants in 2004, but he didn't fit in with his new club. An anonymous teammate called him a "cancer" and a number of Giants told the Oakland Tribune that they wouldn't mind seeing him traded. Pierzynski remained on the team for the rest of the season, but his tenure by the Bay ended months later when the Giants non-tendered him.

In 2006, when Liriano seemed capable of replacing Johan Santana atop the Twins' rotation and Bonser looked like a solid starter, too, this trade seemed even more lopsided that it does today. Liriano had just struck out 144 batters in 121 innings en route to a 2.16 ERA. Bonser, a 2000 first rounder, had just pitched 100 innings of 4.22 ERA ball.

But Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery in 2006 and he hasn't matched his initial success since. Bonser's performance fell off in 2007, he was bumped from the rotation in 2008 and he missed 2009 because of shoulder surgery.

Meanwhile, Nathan has improved in Minnesota. He has never had an ERA above 2.70 or saved fewer than 36 games with the Twins. He's made three All-Star appearances since Sabean sent him to the AL and has kept his WHIP below 1.00 in five of his six seasons in the Junior Circuit.

At the time of the trade, Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "Giants fans won't miss Joe Nathan," calling the deal a "steal" for Sabean. Nothing seems further from the truth now, but the deal didn't appear lopsided in 2003. The Giants gave up a reliever with a history of shoulder problems and two unproven, but promising prospects for an affordable catcher who should have been entering his prime. 

Still, the deal is a blemish on Sabean's record and a major reason the Twins have won three division titles since.


Trades Of The Decade: Colon To The Expos

From Larry Walker to John Wetteland to Pedro Martinez, Montreal Expos talent seemed to head south as quickly as the club could develop it. By 2002, it seemed possible that the Expos were playing their final season in Montreal and the threat of contraction put the organization's future in jeopardy. So they surprised some people when they acquired an All-Star caliber player mid-way through the 2002 season.

GM Omar Minaya obtained Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew from the Indians for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens.

The Canadian Press wrote that Minaya made a "stunning acquisition," and some of Colon's teammates agreed. C.C. Sabathia told the AP the move was a "big blow," a "shock."

Combine a bold GM, a franchise in peril and a division title within reach and you'll see some surprising moves.

The Expos were in the playoff race after acquiring Colon on June 27th, 2002. They trailed the Braves by 6.5 games and found themselves 5.0 games behind the Wild Card-leading Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade, many writers pointed to the Expos' rotation depth; Colon joined Javier Vazquez, Tomo Ohka and Tony Armas Jr. to form one of the Senior Circuit's deepest rotations.

Colon played well for the Expos. He pitched 117 innings of 3.31 ERA ball, allowing less than a hit per frame and striking out two men for every one he walked. The Expos won 83 games – more than they'd won since 1996 – but it wasn't enough to topple the Braves, who won 101 times.

The Indians weren't in a position to make a playoff run so, like this year and last, they dealt their ace away. But not even GM Mark Shapiro can hope his recent deadline deals turn out as well as the one he made in 2002. 

Shapiro told the AP at the time that the Indians were "clearly moving to a total rebuilding process." So how did he plan to rebuild the franchise? Start with an athletic center fielder and a left-handed ace.

Sizemore, who was 19 at the time of the trade, has combined power, speed, plate discipline and defense to become one of the league's elite players. Lee followed up his 2008 Cy Young campaign with a strong start that allowed Shapiro to obtain four Phillies prospects for him in a midseason trade.

Lee Stevens was a non factor and the Indians sent Phillips to the Reds for Jeff Stevens in a 2006 trade. Shapiro sold low on a second baseman who plays strong defense and has a 30-30 season to his name. But they acquired talent to spare for Colon, who was under team control for a year and a half after the trade.

The Expos traded Colon to the White Sox after the season. In return, they obtained Rocky Biddle, Orlando Hernandez, Jeff Liefer and cash. Minaya's gamble turned the Expos' top minor leaguers into a trio of considerably less valuable players. A playoff appearance would not necessarily have prevented the Expos from moving to D.C. after 2004, but the Bartolo Colon trade was anything but the solution to the organization's problems.


Trades Of The Decade: Kazmir For Zambrano

The Mets weren't particularly close to a playoff spot on the morning of July 30th, 2004. They were in fourth place in the NL East, six games out of first and ninth in the Wild Card race. That didn't stop Mets GM Jim Duquette from trading for Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson in a pair of trades that evening. For Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato, the Mets gave up Jose Diaz and Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir hadn't pitched in the majors yet, but the 20-year-old Texan already had a profile. The Mets selected him in the first round of the 2002 draft and Kazmir dominated minor league hitters, striking out 259 in 203.1 innings.

Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar called Kazmir one of baseball's best left-handed pitching prospects and told ESPN he couldn't pass up the chance to acquire him.

"We needed to start getting our hands on some pitching that can truly beat the Red Sox and Yankees in this division," LaMar said."We think Scott Kazmir has that kind of ability."

LaMar turned out to be right. Kazmir contributed to the Rays' 2008 division title and run to the World Series past the Yankees and Red Sox. Overall, he had a 3.92 ERA in parts of six seasons with the Rays. He struck out more than a batter per inning (9.4K/9) and allowed less than a hit per inning (8.4H/9) in 834 frames, though he was susceptible to walks (4.1BB/9).

No matter how you measure it, Kazmir has been worth the $10MM or so the Rays paid him. (In case you're wondering, FanGraphs says his performance in Tampa would have cost about $70MM to replace on the free agent market.) The Rays flipped Kazmir to the Angels this summer, but they obtained Alexander Torres, Matthew Sweeney and Sean Rodriguez, so the 2004 trade still shapes today's Rays.

They made the deal with the future in mind, but Duquette thought the Mets could win in 2004. He acknowledged to the New York Times that the deal was "more of a current trade rather than a long-term trade." Five years later, that's quite the understatement.

Zambrano, who was pitching through elbow soreness at the time of the deal, appeared just three times for the Mets in 2004 due to the injury.  Two years later Zambrano was recovering from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery, and the Mets non-tendered the righty.  He posted a 4.42 ERA in just over 200 innings with the club; he continued to be plagued by control problems when healthy.

The Mets finished 20 games below .500 with a walk-prone injured 29-year-old who was about to become expensive. The Rays finished 21 games below .500 with one of baseball's top pitching prospects under team control for six years. As any Mets fan will tell you, It's hard to find a more lopsided trade.


Trades Of The Decade: Griffey To The Reds

When the Mariners traded away the best player in the game a month into the new millennium, they didn't appear to have obtained much in return. They gave up Ken Griffey Jr.: an All-Star and Gold Glove winner every year of the 1990s and a member of the All-Century team.

At the time, Jake Meyer, Antonio Perez, Brett Tomko and Mike Cameron didn't seem like enough of a haul for Griffey. In the days following the trade, Michael Knisley of the Sporting News wrote that the Mariners "got fleeced last week more completely than Bo Peep's lost sheep at shearing time. For Junior Griffey, the man most likely to break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, the game's most perfect all-around player in the prime of his career, the Reds gave Seattle … bits and pieces, drips and drabs of major leaguers and wanna-bes."

But Mariners GM Pat Gillick was cornered because Griffey became restless and demanded a trade in November of 1999. He had just one year and $8.25MM left on his contract, so many teams had interest, but Griffey's ten and five rights allowed him to veto any deal. 

Sports Illustrated reported that Griffey gave Gillick a list of four teams to which he would accept a trade: the Braves, Astros, Mets and Reds. The Mariners were trapped; their star wanted a trade, but the team's leverage was disappearing quickly.

 "It was not," Gillick said, "an ideal situation in which to negotiate."

Months of trade talks ensued between Reds GM Jim Bowden and Gillick. The Reds wanted to keep Pokey Reese and Sean Casey. The Mariners wanted a package that would provide depth in case Alex Rodriguez left as a free agent after the season.

Ultimately, the Reds acquired Griffey for Cameron, Tomko, Perez and Meyer. They promptly signed Junior to a nine-year $116.5MM deal. Lots of money, but SI's Tom Verducci said Griffey signed for about half his market value – the M's had apparently offered $138MM over eight years the summer before.

Griffey missed significant parts of the 2001-06 seasons with a variety of injuries. Whether it was his hamstring, his calf or his wrist, Griffey always seemed to be on the DL. He hit his 400th, 500th and 600th homers in a Reds uniform, but he didn't live up to the other-worldly standards he'd established in Seattle.

Cameron played at least 147 games for the Mariners in each of the four seasons after the trade, putting up a .798 OPS and winning a pair of Gold Gloves. Tomko never became an impact player for the Mariners and neither Perez nor Meyer actually played a game for the club, but that didn't stop Seattle from winning.

The Mariners made it to the ALCS in 2000 and again a year later after the club's historic 116-win campaign. Ten offseasons ago it looked like a great deal for Cincinnati, but Griffey never led the Reds to the playoffs and the club hasn't had a winning season since 2000.  A possible silver lining: the Reds received pitcher Nick Masset in the deadline deal last year that sent Griffey to the White Sox.  Masset had a fine year in '09 and could be the Reds' closer of the future.


Trades Of The Decade: Bedard To The Mariners

After months of speculation and one false alarm, the Mariners acquired Erik Bedard from the Orioles in February of 2008. The cost? Tony Butler, Kameron Mickolio, George SherrillChris Tillman and Adam Jones.

Then-GM Bill Bavasi told reporters that the Mariners were getting "one hell of a player," and he wasn't the only executive who thought so. Before the trade became official, a rival GM told Sports Illustrated that Bedard had become "an annual Cy Young candidate."

The numbers backed it up. Bedard was coming off two straight dominant and mostly healthy seasons. He had an astronomical K-rate (10.9K/9), walked relatively few hitters (2.8BB/9) and was extremely tough to hit in 2007. 

Cy Young candidate or not, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said trading Bedard away was best for the franchise's long-term success.

"There aren't too many five-for-one trades anymore," MacPhail said. "We are delighted to have all five in the system."

Two of the five have yet to contribute at the major league level, but the O's still obtained a remarkable haul. Mickolio, a 6'9'' 25-year-old, has limited major league experience, though he has succeeded as a reliever in the upper minors. Butler, 22 next month, has yet to pitch above Single A.

This summer, the O's sent Sherrill to the Dodgers for powerful infield prospect Josh Bell and righty Steve Johnson. Sherrill was Baltimore's closer for a year and a half before the trade; he saved 51 games for the O's, striking out more than a batter per inning.

Tillman, who turned 21 this year, struggled in 12 major league starts this summer, but has excelled in the minors since the trade and he remains one of the game's top prospects. (A few months ago, Baseball America ranked him as the 8th-best prospect in baseball.)

Jones was coming off a productive year at Triple A at the time of the trade. He had just hit .314/.382/.586 with 25 homers in Tacoma. Those numbers translated into major league production this year, after Jones struggled at the plate in his first season with the O's. He made the All-Star team this July and hit .277/.335/.457 for the campaign, all while playing a solid center field, according to UZR.

The Mariners didn't get nearly as much value in return, though Bedard is as tough to hit as ever. Overall, Bedard allowed 135 hits and 71 walks in 164 innings as a Mariner, striking out 162 for a 3.24 ERA.

That wouldn't be a bad season, but the Mariners hoped for two years out of Bedard, not one. Back, hip, shoulder and hamstring injuries limited him to 30 starts. The M's expected to contend when they added Bedard and Carlos Silva to a rotation that already included Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn, but the 2008 team lost 101 games and, despite a turnaround last season, they didn't come close to making the playoffs.