As part of a slew of rule changes announced Thursday, MLB will now have just one trade deadline on July 31st. This means August waiver trades are no longer. In memoriam, we took a look back at the 10 most impactful August trade waiver deals of all-time.
The Astros stood pat at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, much to the irritation of veteran members of the club. After going 11-17 in August, however, the Astros made the move to acquire Verlander. It turned out to be one of the best trades of the decade. Verlander won all five of his starts down the stretch with Houston—posting a 1.06 ERA and 43-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio—and went 4-1, 2.26 in the postseason to help carry the Astros to their first World Series championship.
A somewhat earlier version of the Verlander trade, the division-leading Blue Jays were scuffling through August with an 11-14 record when they acquired Cone from the free-falling Mets. Cone immediately helped turn Toronto’s fortunes around, posting a 2.55 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) as the Blue Jays went 24-11 the rest of the way. Cone finished his stint with the Blue Jays with a 3.22 ERA over four postseason starts, including six strong innings in the clinching Game 6 of the 1992 World Series. Kent, in his rookie season at the time of the trade, went on to a decorated 17-year career, but Cone’s effort helping the Blue Jays win their first World Series takes away the sting of trading Kent.
The Brewers had reached the playoffs in 1981 and were angling to get back when they acquired Sutton for the final month of the 1982 season. The 37-year-old delivered, going 4-1, 3.27 in seven starts. His biggest start came on the final day of the season when, with the Brewers tied with the Orioles for first place in the AL East, he pitched eight innings of two-run ball to lift Milwaukee to a 10-2 win over Baltimore and the division title. Sutton followed up by pitching 7.2 brilliant innings in Game 3 of the ALCS to keep the Brewers alive after they’d fallen into a 2-0 series deficit against the Angels, and it ultimately served as the catalyst for a Brewers comeback that put them into the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
4. Aug. 25, 2012 — Dodgers acquire Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and cash from the Red Sox for James Loney and minor leaguers Allan Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Ivan De Jesus, Jerry Sands.
At the time, the trade was heralded for the Red Sox clearing nearly $270 million in future payroll obligations. The trade worked out just fine for the Dodgers, though. Gonzalez played an integral role in leading the Dodgers to the NL West title each of the next three seasons, garnering MVP votes each year; Beckett delivered a 3.39 ERA over 35 starts, including a no-hitter; and Crawford hit .290/.333/.416 in his first two seasons before injuries ended his career. While none of the players traded to the Red Sox did much for them, the cleared payroll space allowed Boston to sign Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes and Koji Uehara in the offseason and take on Jake Peavy’s salary in a trade the following July. All would help lead the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series title.
The Tigers began August in third place in the American League East, three games behind the Yankees, when they decided to go for it. First, they acquired third baseman Jim Morrison from the Pirates on Aug. 7. After climbing into second place they made a move to improve their rotation, acquiring the 36-year-old veteran Alexander. Alexander did his part by going 9-0, 1.53 in 11 starts to lead the Tigers to the division title, capped by seven strong innings in a win against the Blue Jays that pushed the Tigers into a tie for first with two games left in the season. But Detroit’s short-term gain was a long-term loss. Smoltz, the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect at the time of the trade, debuted the following year, made his first All-Star Game a year later, and went on to a Hall of Fame career.
The Red Sox sought bullpen help as they chased the American League East title and got it from Andersen, who delivered a 1.23 ERA in 15 appearances as Boston edged out the Blue Jays in the final week of the season. But, as with the Smoltz trade, the Red Sox’s short-term gain was a long-term loss. Bagwell made his debut with the Astros in 1991 and won Rookie of the Year, won the NL MVP award in 1994 and went on to a Hall of Fame career of his own.
The Cardinals hadn’t made a World Series since 1987 and were in the midst of a special season, entering the morning of August 6 with the best record in baseball. Walker, who had 10-5 rights, had already vetoed trades to the Rangers and Marlins prior to the July 31 deadline. But the Cardinals wanted to fortify their lineup for the postseason, Walker agreed to accept a deal to St. Louis, and both he and the team got what they wanted. Walker bashed 11 home runs in 44 games with the Cardinals and hit six more home runs with a 1.086 OPS in the postseason as St. Louis reached the Fall Classic for the first time in 17 years. It would be Walker’s first—and only—World Series in his 17-year career.
Conine was one the Marlins’ first stars, finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in the franchise’s inaugural season and representing Florida in back-to-back All-Star Games in 1994-95. With the Marlins tied with the Phillies for the NL’s lone wild card spot and scrambling for offense after third baseman Mike Lowell broke his hand the day before, they brought back the franchise icon in a deal finalized just minutes before the midnight deadline. Conine delivered five home runs and 15 RBIs in the final 25 games as the Marlins pulled away from the pack in the wild card race, then hit .367/.437/.483 in the postseason while starting every game to help the Marlins win their second World Series.
The Giants, in the midst of a 16-year playoff drought, were tied for first place in the NL West with the Reds when they acquired the 38-year-old Reuschel. The veteran went 5-3, 4.32 in nine appearances as the Giants pulled away for the division title, but his biggest contributions were yet to come. Two years later, he went 17-8, 2.94 to help pitch the Giants to the World Series.
The Rangers had never made the playoffs in their 35-year history and paid a high price to make sure that drought ended. They were just two games up on the Mariners in the AL West and lacked a reliable starters beyond Ken Hill and Darren Oliver when they acquired Burkett for Helling and Dempster, both of whom had been Top 10 Prospects in their system at one point. Burkett immediately won his first two starts to give the Rangers some breathing room in the division, and he ultimately went 5-2, 4.06 in 10 starts to help Texas get to its first postseason. He then got the start in Game 1 of the ALDS and pitched a complete game against the Yankees for the first playoff victory in Rangers franchise history.
Aug. 21, 2008 — Blue Jays acquire Jose Bautista from the Pirates for minor leaguer Robinson Diaz.
Unlike the deals above, this waiver trade had no direct impact on that year’s postseason. But it would have an effect on future postseasons. Bautista blossomed in Toronto, making six All-Star Games and leading the American League in home runs twice. Most importantly, he helped carry the Blue Jays to back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015-16, ending a 22-year playoff drought.
The Pirates and Padres initially had a deal before the July 31 deadline that would have sent Giles and Jason Kendall to San Diego in exchange for Perez, Xavier Nady and at least one other player. The trade fell through over how much of Kendall’s salary the Padres would take on, but a month later the Padres got their primary target Giles anway. The power-hitting outfielder helped the Padres open Petco Park on a high note and led them to two division titles in the first three years after the park opened, while Bay won NL Rookie of the Year for the Pirates in 2004 and Perez delivered one excellent season before control issues facilitated a 2006 trade to the Mets.
One To Watch
The Angels sought to fortify their bullpen during their run to an AL West title and got the help they desired from Pestano, who posted a 0.93 ERA in 12 appearances. But the cost was Clevinger, who rebounded from Tommy John surgery as a prospect to become one of the best young starters in the majors today.