Sports Talk with Chris Grant: Wheeling and dealing

Randy Johnson leaves the Mariners after being traded.

The baseball trade market is heating up as the July 31 deadline fast approaches. The Chicago White Sox have been the most active team thus far, dealing most of their veteran talent in exchange for some interesting prospects. Personally, I love the trade deadline. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of the baseball season. It is always fun for me to see players change teams, especially when it’s guys who end up playing somewhere you would have never expected them to be. With that in mind, I thought I would run down my five favorite deadline deals. Sound good? Alright then, let’s go.

5. The Seattle Mariners trade Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros for Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen. This is exactly the type of trade I was referring to. Did you even remember Johnson pitched for the Astros? Well, he did. For a couple months in 1998, helping them reach the playoffs where they eventually lost to the World-Series-bound San Diego Padres. Johnson was an impending free agent, so the Mariners got all they could for him and Garcia turned into a decent, if not great pitcher. Johnson ended up in Arizona where he would eventually win a World Series.

4. Red Sox send Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James Loney and a bunch of guys they eventually dropped. This was one of the great salary purges in the history of the game. The 2012 Red Sox were a disaster. A team filled with high-priced talent that was going nowhere. The Dodgers were a contender, looking for an influx of talent as they chased the World Series. In theory both teams got what they were looking for. Los Angeles got one of the best hitters in the game and a bona fide ace. The Red Sox got rid of their contracts. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, it did not work out for them as they ended up missing the playoffs and are still paying the retired Crawford and Beckett while Gonzalez languishes on their disabled list. Boston took their newfound financial freedom and won the World Series the next year.

3. Phillies get Cliff Lee from Indians for Carlos Carrasco. This one worked out perfectly for both sides. Lee was dominant for Philadelphia as they made their way back to the World Series in 2009 while Carrasco eventually became, and still is, one of the better pitchers Cleveland has. Ideally all deadline deals would work out like this. Of course that is hardly ever the case.

2. Take, for instance, this deal in 1997. The Mariners send Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to Boston for Heath Slocum. It was on this deal that the foundation of the great Red Sox teams to come was built. Enough said.

1. Red Sox trade Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs in four-team deal that nets Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera. This one will always be number one for me because it led to Boston winning its first World Series of my lifetime. Nomar was a bad apple in 2004. He no longer wanted to play for Boston and it was apparent every time he took the field. What they got for him did not look like much at the time, but Cabrera played brilliantly in the playoffs and was certainly a key contributor down the stretch. This trade was the perfect example of addition through subtraction and should be remembered as the best move of Theo Epstein’s brilliant career running baseball franchises.