MLB's five best August deals of the last decade
Hundreds have been made, but these are the most notable since 2008
The Yankees have been active in the August market over the years, and it's possible that they will be once again this year as they make a playoff push, so we've decided to take a look back at some of the biggest gems of waiver trade season: the Top 5 August deals of the last decade.
No. 1: From Motown to Space City (2017)
Book it: Major League Baseball's heist of the century came in the final minutes of August 31, 2017, when the Detroit Tigers sent Justin Verlander, a player to be named later, and cash to the Houston Astros for three minor-leaguers, including former Top 100 prospect Daz Cameron and current Top 100 prospect Franklin Perez.
The rebuilding Tigers had been looking to deal Verlander for some time, but two potential obstacles stood in their way: his no-trade clause, and the two-plus years and more than $60 million left on his contract even if he waived it. Houston, though, had a problem in their pitching ranks, so they stepped up to the mound, and after some literal last-minute convincing from Dallas Keuchel, Verlander agreed to waive his no-trade and headed to Houston.
All the Astros got, sadly, was a rejuvenated hurler who went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA down the stretch, went 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in the postseason to help Houston win their first-ever World Series title, and ranked in the AL's Top 3 in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and innings pitched through August 5 of this season.
No. 2: Bi-coastal blockbuster (2012)
On August 25, 2012, the last-place Boston Red Sox and the contending Los Angeles Dodgers hooked up for a nine-player mega-deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto west in exchange for James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, Allen Webster, and two players to be named later, which turned out to be Rubby de la Rosa and Jerry Sands.
It was a splash for both sides, as the Red Sox cleared more than a quarter-billion dollars in payroll while the Dodgers and their new owners got a handful of marquee players to try to rebuild a dynasty, and it actually worked out for both teams.
On the west side of the deal, the Dodgers didn't get to the 2012 postseason, but their four acquisitions were key components (in varying degrees) for parts of the next four seasons - all of which saw L.A. playing October baseball - and when Gonzalez, who was the last one left in Dodger blue, was shipped off to Atlanta last winter, he brought back 2018 All-Star Matt Kemp.
As for Boston? Well, none of the five players they acquired lasted in Beantown past 2014 (and two of them didn't even make it to 2013), but the payroll purge gave the Sox the financial flexibility to sign a handful of players that helped them win the World Series in 2013, and four of the players in the original deal (all but Loney, who left as a free agent after 2012) were spun off in future trades that landed current Red Sox Brock Holt and Carson Smith.
No. 3: Delmon does Detroit (2011)
Delmon Young was the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 and the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2007, but by 2011, he was a bit of a malcontent who had never really lived up to that No. 1 pedigree in either Tampa or Minnesota, and by mid-season, he had worn out his welcome in Minneapolis.
So, even though he still had one year of arbitration to go, Young was dumped off on Detroit on August 15, 2011, bringing a pair of minor-leaguers back to Minnesota in return. He turned out to be a perfect fit in Motown for a season and change, hitting .268 with 26 homers and 108 RBI in 191 total games with the Tigers, but his postseason heroics were even more rewarding; Young hit .316 with three huge homers in an epic five-game ALDS win over the Yankees in 2011, and in 2012, he hit .313 with three homers in leading Detroit to the World Series, earning himself ALCS MVP honors along the way thanks to a .353/.421/.765 slash line in the Tigers' four-game sweep of the Yankees.
No. 4: Joey Bats goes international (2008)
Sometimes, even the smallest deals turn out to be huge in the end - see also Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz and Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell in the pre-Wild Card era - but the most influential "minor" August deal of the last decade came in 2008, when a pair of non-contenders got together for a deal that unknowingly would make one a powerhouse for the next decade.
On August 21, 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were already a dozen games below .500 en route to a 67-95 season, dealt Jose Bautista - a 27-year-old journeyman corner infielder/outfielder who had been their starting third baseman and hit .242 with 12 homers that season - to the Toronto Blue Jays, who themselves were just a few games north of .500 and headed to a fourth-place finish, for a player to be named later, which was named as Robinzon Diaz a few days later.
Diaz played 43 games as a Pirate, was released at the end of 2009, and spent the next seven years kicking around the Minors before ending his career in Mexico in 2016. Bautista, meanwhile, hit 288 home runs over a decade in Toronto and became a beloved icon in the city by helping deliver a 2015 AL East title - Toronto's first since 1993 - and back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015-16.
No. 5: Pittsburgh's splurge (2013)
As we close out the list, we must note that several August trades in just the last few years have been fruitful enough to consider; Jay Bruce was a monster for Cleveland in 2017, both Mike Leake (2017) and Ben Gamel (2016) have been huge for the Mariners this year, and John Axford helped St. Louis get to the World Series in 2013.
But, we close this list with a pair of trades made by the Pirates in 2013, because of historical importance; the first, on August 27, brought Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black, and the second, on August 31, brought Justin Morneau from Minnesota for Alex Presley and Duke Walker.
All three players were rentals, but all three were veterans having strong seasons in their roles, and Pittsburgh took the chance that they could shore up positions of need at first base and right field (both of which were seeing platoons) and give Russell Martin more of a breather behind the plate.
The result? Byrd hit .318 with three homers in 30 games, Morneau hit .260 in 25 games, Buck went 8-for-24 in limited action…and in the end, the Pirates qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1992, and won the Wild Card Game to earn their first October victory since Game 6 of the 1992 NLCS.