The month of February is upon us, and it’s typically a relatively quiet month for significant trades. Still, there have been a few big ones in the past five years. Here’s a look back at some of the key trades to take place in Februaries of the recent past.
February 12: Athletics acquire OF Khris Davis from Brewers for C Jacob Nottingham and P Bubba Derby. The A’s acquired some power last February, grabbing Davis from a rebuilding Brewers club. Davis hit a solid .247/.307/.524 and tied for third in the AL with 42 homers in his first year in Oakland. Nottingham, meanwhile, hit a disappointing .234/.295/.347 with the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate, although he was young for the level; he currently ranks as the 16th-best prospect in the Brewers’ much-improved system, according to MLB.com. Derby struggled in Class A+.
February 25: Athletics acquire OF Chris Coghlan from Cubs for P Aaron Brooks. The Davis trade wasn’t the Athletics’ only outfielder acquisition last February, although their deal to pick up Coghlan didn’t go nearly as well as the Davis trade, even though Coghlan was coming off two straight productive seasons in Chicago. Coghlan batted a miserable .146/.215/.272 in 172 plate appearances in Oakland before the A’s shipped him back to the Cubs for Arismendy Alcantara in June. Brooks, meanwhile, missed the entire season due to a hip contusion; he’ll serve as depth for the Cubs in 2017.
February 13: Rays acquire P Nate Karns from Nationals for P Felipe Rivero, C Jose Lobaton and OF Drew Vettleson. This deal turned out to be more interesting than it looked at the time. Karns had spent the 2013 season as a 25-year-old pitching well but not spectacularly at the Double-A level. He spent most of 2014 at Triple-A, then quietly had a strong season with the Rays in 2015 before heading to Seattle in a six-player deal that netted the Rays Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar and Logan Morrison. For the Nationals, Lobaton, a backup catcher, looked like the centerpiece of their side of the deal at the time. He’s had a good run in Washington, hitting respectably and framing well, but it was Rivero who became the highest-value asset — he emerged as a flame-throwing lefty reliever, and the Nats eventually shipped him to Pittsburgh as the key piece in the Mark Melancon deal. Vettleson was a first-round pick in 2010, but he’s stalled in the Nationals system and was demoted to Class A+ last year.
February 4: Athletics acquire SS Jed Lowrie and P Fernando Rodriguez from Astros for 1B Chris Carter, P Brad Peacock and C Max Stassi. Lowrie was coming off a solid .244/.331/.438 season in 2012 in Houston, and he was even better in 2013 in Oakland, batting .290/.344/.446. He was modestly productive in 2014 before heading back to the Astros as a free agent. Rodriguez, meanwhile, missed all of 2013 and much of 2014 after having Tommy John surgery but pitched fairly well for the A’s in 2015 and 2016, posting a 3.99 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 99 1/3 innings with the club before heading to the Cubs as a minor-league free agent this winter. The then-rebuilding Astros, meanwhile, received a package centered on Carter, then coming off an encouraging rookie season. Carter hit 90 home runs in three seasons in Houston but struck out 545 times over that period and was ultimately non-tendered. Peacock has provided the Astros with rotation depth, while Stassi has made only brief big-league appearances over the last four seasons, generally struggling at Triple-A.
February 13: Yankees acquire P Shawn Kelley from Mariners for OF Abraham Almonte. The Mariners had designated Kelley for assignment, and acquiring Almonte was a straightforward attempt on their part to get some value for him. Seattle’s initial decision to designate Kelley remains puzzling, however. He had just posted a good 3.25 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 for them in 2012. He remained modestly productive in three seasons in New York and San Diego before landing a three-year, $15MM deal with the Nationals last winter. Almonte, meanwhile, struggled to get established with the Mariners, then the Padres and Indians.
February 22: White Sox acquire 3B Conor Gillaspie from Giants for P Jeff Soptic. This was another trade that looked relatively minor — Gillaspie was out of options, and with Pablo Sandoval then entrenched at third base, the Giants had limited use for him. He emerged as a decent regular in 2013 and 2014 with the White Sox (hitting .265/.322/.404 in that span) before struggling in 2015 and heading to the Angels in a minor trade. Soptic threw very hard but had persistent control problems and has spent the past four years at Class A+.
February 6: Orioles acquire P Jason Hammel and P Matt Lindstrom from Rockies for P Jeremy Guthrie. Like many pitchers, Hammel struggled to establish himself in Colorado. But his career bloomed in Baltimore and then in Chicago. In five years since leaving Denver, he’s posted a 3.88 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 771 innings, and he currently rates as MLBTR’s top remaining free agent. Lindstrom pitched well for the Orioles before heading to Arizona in a midseason trade for Joe Saunders. Guthrie’s stint in Colorado went poorly, and he headed to Kansas City in another ill-fated Rockies trade; they received Jonathan Sanchez in return, and Sanchez made just three poor starts for them. Guthrie, meanwhile, reestablished himself as a good back-end rotation option in Kansas City.
February 19: Pirates acquire A.J. Burnett and cash from Yankees for P Diego Moreno and OF Exicardo Cayones. The Yankees were likely happy to be rid of Burnett and a portion of his remaining contract after he posted a 4.79, 7.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in parts of three seasons in New York. But he thrived in Pittsburgh, where he became one of the NL’s top ground-ball pitchers and served as a veteran leader for the 2013 Bucs as they had their first winning season in two decades. Moreno pitched briefly for the Yankees in 2015; Cayones never made it to Double-A.