Few Prospects Traded At The Deadline Go On To Significant Major League Careers
The 2021 trade deadline was one of the wildest in recent memory.
Teams made a total of 50 trades between July 22-30, with Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Joey Gallo, Nelson Cruz and Craig Kimbrel among the long list of stars sent to new teams. Ten players who were all-stars this season were traded, as were 63 prospects. The prospects on the move included C Keibert Ruiz, SS Austin Martin and RHP Josiah Gray, all of whom ranked on the BA Midseason Top 100, as well as RHPs Joe Ryan and Simeon Woods Richardson, who ranked on previous BA Top 100s and were selected to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympics.
The hope of every team that traded veteran stars at the deadline is that the prospects they received in return will one day become stars themselves.
Baseball America reviewed every July trade made from 2001-2016 to examine how often a prospect acquired in such a trade went on to play the majority of more than one season in the major leagues and post a positive career WAR, as measured by Baseball-Reference.com. (Note: The 2016 trade deadline was Aug. 1, so trades made on that day are included.) Players traded as prospects in 2017 or later are largely still making their way up the minors and cannot be fully evaluated yet.
In all, 124 of the 612 prospects traded in non-waiver deadline deals from 2001-2016 went on to play the majority of more than one season in the majors and post a positive career WAR. That’s just 20.3% of all prospects moved in such trades.
There were big hits among the successes. Corey Kluber, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Cliff Lee, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Santana and were all traded as prospects in July deals. Players traded as prospects in deadline deals more recently include Yordan Alvarez, Zack Wheeler, Gleyber Torres, Josh Hader, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Hendricks, Sean Manaea and Jean Segura.
But overwhelmingly, they are the exception. In most cases, prospects traded at the deadline fail to make any significant impact in the major leagues.
*MLB career is defined as playing the majority of at least two seasons in the major leagues and having a positive career WAR, as measured by Baseball-Reference.com through Aug. 4.
Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com
Notably, teams appear to have improved recently at identifying significant future major leaguers as prospects in deadline deals. The highest success rate of the sample came in 2015, when one-third of all prospects acquired went on to play the majority of at least two seasons in the majors and post a positive career WAR. That number could still increase, too, with many other players acquired at that year’s deadline still active and working their way toward more consistent roles in the majors.
But even with that recent increase in success rates, the number of prospects acquired in deadline deals who don’t pan out still significantly outnumbers the ones who do.
For all the prospects acquired at the deadline this year, history tells us few will make much impact in the major leagues.
Every prospect traded in a July trade (as well as Aug. 1, 2016) is listed below. Bolded players are those who played the majority of at least two seasons in the majors and posted a positive career WAR as measured by Baseball-Reference.com.
2016: Pat Light, Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas, Jhonleider Salinas, Nathan Lukes, Phil Bickford, Nick Green, Erik Swanson, Dillon Tate, Alan Busenitz, Alex Meyer, Guadalupe Chavez, Jonah Heim, Tito Polo, Stephen Tarpley, Max Wotell, Jesus Castillo, Lucius Fox, Michael Santos, Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, Ryan Cordell, Yordan Alvarez, Harold Ramirez, Reese McGuire, Ben Heller, Clint Frazier, J.P. Feyereisen, Justus Sheffield, Charlie Tilson, Vicente Campos, Ariel Miranda, Taylor Hearn, Brett Eibner, Hector Olivera, Tayron Guerrero, Josh Naylor, Adalberto Mejia, Lucas Harrell, Dario Alvarez, Travis Demeritte, Hansel Rodriguez, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford, Jordan Pries, Dan Vogelbach, Paul Blackburn, Anderson Espinoza, Jose Almonte, Luis Alejandro Basabe, Eric Jokisch, Wendell Rijo, Aaron Wilkerson.
2015: Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Williams, Alec Asher, Jake Thompson, Malik Collymore, Zach Davies, Rob Rasmussen, Jake Brentz, Nick Wells, Chih-Wei Hu, Alexis Tapia, Jimmy Cordero, Alberto Tirado, Ivan Pineyro, Elliot Soto, Adrian Sampson, Junior Lake, Tomas Telis, Cody Ege, Luis Cessa, Michael Fulmer, Rob Kaminsky, Daniel Norris, Matthew Boyd, Jairo Labourt, Victor Araujo, Jeff Brigham, Kevin Guzman, Jose Ramirez, Ramon Flores, Jose Peraza, Hector Olivera, Zack Bird, JaCoby Jones, Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, Domingo Santana, Adam Duvall, Keury Mella, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, Jesus Tinoco, Aaron Brooks, Sean Manaea, Eduar Lopez, Nick Pivetta, Eric Stamets, Casey Meisner, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, John Lamb, Kyle Barraclough, John Gant, Rob Whalen, Daniel Mengden, Jacob Nottingham, Yhonathan Berrios, Chris Reed, Grant Dayton, Rafael Lopez, Manuel Rondon.
2014: Harold Riggins, Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Zach Borenstein, Joe Krehbiel, Cesar Carrasco, Alex Sogard, Spencer Patton, Trevor Gott, Taylor Lindsey, Jose Rondon, R.J. Alvarez, Elliot Morris, Rafael De Paula, Corey Knebel, Jake Thompson, Stephen Pryor, Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree, Jonathan Martinez, James Ramsey, Corey Littrell, Anthony Banda, Mitch Haniger, Stephen Kohlscheen, Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Walters, Peter O’Brien, Kiké Hernandez, Austin Wates, Colin Moran, Francis Martes, Victor Caratini, Willy Adames.
2013: Steve Ames, Josh Wall, Angel Sanchez, Ivan Pineyro, Russ Canzler, Tim Alderson, Brandon Jacobs, Parker Frazier, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Nicky Delmonico, Corey Black, Danry Vasquez, Cory Rasmus, Juan Herrera, Joe Thatcher, Matt Stites, Kyle Smith, L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, Avisail Garcia, Brayan Villareal, Frankie Montas, Cleuluis Rondon, J.B. Wendelken, Grant Green.
2012: Matt Dominguez, Rob Rasmussen, Todd Redmond, Carlos Perez, Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins, Kevin Comer, Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters, Chris Devenski, D.J. Mitchell, Danny Farquhar, Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Brian Flynn, Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens, Colton Cain, Tyler Bortnick, Nate Eovaldi, Scott McGough, Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena, Charlie Culberson, Eduardo Escobar, Pedro Hernandez, Bobby Borchering, Marc Krauss, Jake Brigham, Arodys Vizcaino, Jaye Chapman, Leon Landry, Logan Bawcom, Ethan Martin, Stefan Jarrin, Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin, Zack Cox, Gorkys Hernandez, Kyle Kaminska, Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Donnie Joseph, Steven Wright, Lars Anderson, Kyle Hendricks, Christian Villanueva.
2011: Danny Ray Herrera, Adrian Rosario, Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel, Julio Rodriguez, Antonio Cruz, Bill Rhinehart, Chris Manno, Zach Stewart, P.J. Walters, Zack Wheeler, Carlton Smith, Abner Abreu, Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, Domingo Santana, Francisco Martinez, Chance Ruffin, Erik Komatsu, Kendal Volz, Yamaico Navarro, Zach Walters, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, Matt McBride, Thomas Neal, Aaron Baker, Alex Castellanos, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu, Jordan Norberto, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez, Trayvon Robinson, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Josh Fields.
2010: Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, Matt Lawson, Tyler Pastornicky, Tim Collins, Sean O'Sullivan, Will Smith, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs, Giovanni Soto, Lucas May, Elisaul Pimentel, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, Brett Wallace, Evan Reed, Omar Poveda, Wynn Pelzer, Wilson Ramos, Joe Testa, David Holmberg, Ryan Tatusko, Tanner Roark, Zach McAllister, Jimmy Paredes, Mark Melancon, Matt Gorgen, Pedro Ciriaco, Corey Kluber, Nick Greenwood, Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Wilkin Ramirez, Andrew Lambo, Matt Cusick, Andrew Shive, Gregor Blanco, Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez, Michael Thomas, Dan Turpen.
2009: Al Alburquerque, Jon Meloan, Craig Italiano, Ryan Webb, Brandon Allen, Dan Cortes, Derrick Saito, Cole Gillespie, Roque Mercedes, Argenis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Connor Graham, Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, Shane Peterson, Scott Barnes, Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Tim Alderson, Robert Manuel, Josh Bell, Steve Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Josh Harrison, Mauricio Robles, Luke French, Tyler Ladendorf, Chase Weems, Zach Stewart, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell, Dexter Carter, Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price, Ryan Mattheus, Robinson Fabian, Aaron Thompson.
2008: Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, Michael Brantley, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson, Josh Donaldson, Evan Scribner, Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman, Matt Spencer, Steve Hammond, Darren Ford, Emilio Bonifacio, Chad Reineke, Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen, Jon Meloan, Carlos Santana, Luis Perdomo, Stephen Marek, Danny Richar, Gaby Hernandez, Alberto Gonzalez, Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss.
2007: Chris Cody, Danny Christensen, Jerry Blevins, Jeff Kennard, Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, Steve Garrison, Max Ramirez, Michael Dubee, Leo Rosales, Calvin Medlock, Brian Shackelford, Shaun Cumberland, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones, Matt Maloney, Drew Butera, Sean Danielson, Jon Link, David Murphy, Engel Beltre, Jesus Merchan, Will Startup, Steve MacFarland.
2006: Terry Evans, Travis Chick, Mitch Talbot, Ben Zobrist, Brendan Harris, Daryl Thompson, Jeff Keppinger, Max Ramirez, Joel Santo, Fabian Jimenez, B.J. LaMura, Tyler Lumsden, Daniel Cortes, Blake Johnson, Julio Pimentel, Shin-Soo Choo, Shawn Nottingham, Laynce Nix, Julian Cordero, Nelson Cruz, Shairon Martis, Wilfrido Laureano, C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios, Justin Germano, Brian Rogers, Zach Ward, Joselo Diaz, Jose Ceda, Jesse Chavez, Joel Guzman, Sergio Pedroza, Denny Bautista, Scott Dohmann.
2005: J.J. Davis, Doc Brooks, Omar Quintanilla, Jason Dubois, Chip Ambres, Juan Cedeno, Matt Lorenzo, Matt Kata, Travis Chick, Justin Germano, J.J. Furmaniak, Eduardo Sierra, Ramon Ramirez, Nathanel Mateo, Kyle Bono, Kenny Perez, Ryan Meaux, Yorman Bazardo, Mike Flannery, Roman Colon, Zach Miner.
2004: Peter Ciofrone, Jon Rauch, Gary Majewski, John Hattig, Scott Kazmir, Joselo Diaz, Bartolome Fortunato, Justin Huber, Jeff Keppinger, Matt Peterson, Jose Bautista, Alfredo Simon, Jon Huber, Bill Murphy, Anderson Machado, Brad Correll, Josh Hancock, Abraham Nunez, Matt Merricks, Travis Chick, Koyie Hill, Reggie Abercrombie, Henri Stanley, Justin Jones, Brendan Harris, Francis Beltran, Matt Murton.
2003: Royce Ring, Edwin Almonte, Andrew Salvo, Anthony Webster, Josh Rupe, Frank Francisco, Alejandro Machado, Wes Obermueller, Scott Mullen, Victor Rodriguez, Gookie Dawkins, Scott Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez, Will Smith, Ryan Snare, Clay Hensley, R.D. Spiehs, Victor Diaz, Joselo Diaz, Kole Strayhorn, Dave Gassner, Anderson Garcia, Ryan Bicondoa, Jason Anderson, Mike Watson, Ryan Ludwick, Frank Brooks, Anastacio Martinez, Mike Gonzalez, Matt Bruback, Bobby Hill, Jeremy Hill, Kenny Kelly, Scott Dunn, Tim Bittner, Phil Dumatrait, Tyler Pelland, Jon-Mark Sprowl, Jason Fransz, Jeff Bruksch, Joe Valentine, Charlie Manning, Brandon Claussen, Freddy Sanchez, Anastacio Martinez, Ryan Hannaman, Scott Proctor, Bubba Crosby.
2002: Johnny Raburn, Pedro Liriano, Frank Francisco, Byeong An, Jason Romano, Josh Reynolds, Jason Bay, Mark Corey, Robert Stratton, Marshall McDougall, Sun Woo Kim, Seung Song, Enemencio Pacheco, Doug Nickel, Felix Diaz, Ryan Meaux, Francisco Cruceta, Ricardo Rodriguez, Tim Drew, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Tom Farmer, Jason Frasor, Jon Adkins, David Espinosa, Noochie Varner, Jorge Cordova, Shane Nance, Ben Diggins, Brian Mallette, Lance Caraccioli, Luis Garcia, Coco Crisp, Justin Wayne, Claudio Vargas, Don Levinski.
2001: Brad Voyles, Alejandro Machado, Rich Rundles, Tony McKnight, Adrian Burnside, Kris Foster, Geronimo Gil, Zach Day, Kevin Joseph, Roberto Miniel, Ruben Quevedo, Peter Zoccolillo, Ryan Vogelsong, Brett Jodie, Darren Blakely, Jason Smith, Adam Walker, Onan Masaoka, Gary Majewski, Jeff Barry, Mario Encarnacion, Jose Ortiz, Todd Belitz, Nick Biedbrodt, Jason Conti, Todd Ozias, Erasmo Ramirez, Chris Magruder, Robin Jennings.