It's one of the most exciting times of the year: the trade deadline. It's the time we live and die with every single tweet from reporters and beat writers as "BREAKING", "#source", "#MysteryTeam", and "#HugWatch" flood your Twitter timelines. Beyond the Box Score staff members are no exception, providing solid deadline #content. But it takes time - years, sometimes even decades - to see how these trades truly shake out.
Here I'll turn the clock back a decade and take a look at some blockbusters that changed the landscape of the baseball world ten summers ago. This will be a two-part series.
Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, and Julian Cordero for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz
At the time, the Rangers were one game below .500 but just 2.5 games behind the AL West-leading Angels. Suffering lowly offensive output by their standard (their .782 OPS ranked only 10th-best in the big leagues), Texas reeled a middle-of-the-order bat in Lee, who was hitting .286/.347/.549 with a 124 OPS+, in exchange for a flame-throwing reliever, a pair of power threat, as well as a swing man in the low minors.
Alas, the trade didn't help the Rangers win the division, as they went a pedestrian 29-30 the rest of the way to finish third in the AL West, 13 games behind the A's. Though Lee did meet expectations, slashing .322/.369/.525 while posting a near-identical 128 OPS+ in 260 plate appearances with the club, before heading several hundred miles south to sign with the Astros as a free agent in the following winter.
The real reward for the Rangers in this trade turned out to be Nelson Cruz, a 25-year old throw-in piece who had logged a mere eight games in the big leagues. He would swat 157 long balls, post a .268/.327/.495 slash line (114 OPS+), and most notably, propel the Lone Stars to consecutive World Series appearance with memorable postseason performances. In summary, the Rangers sowed the seeds of their early 2010s powerhouse in this trade.
The main piece going north was Francisco Cordero, who bounced back with the Brewers as he posted a superb 272 ERA+ compared to 97 with Texas. In his 1.5-year Brewers stint, the Santo Domingo native appeared in 94 games, finished 84, and saved 60 of them while striking out 114 and walking 34 in 90 innings before departing for Cincinnati.
Nix, once a Baseball America top 100 prospect known for his staggering power, never lived up to his potential. He finished his career with 69 home runs, only one of which came in Milwaukee, to go with an abysmal .153/.180/.220 slash line in just 61 plate appearances with the Brew Crew.
Mench didn't fare well in Milwaukee, performing to a .256/.288/.403 slash line, 76 OPS+ while launching just nine long balls. Julian Cordero? I wasn't aware of his existence before writing this article, which is an indication of how he performed from 2006 forward.
The inclusion of Nelson Cruz turned out to be the game changer in this deal, even though he wasn't the main piece.
C.J. Henry, Carlos Monasterios, Jesus Sanchez, and Matt Smith for Bobby Abreu and Corey Lidle
This one ended one of the Phillies' all-time great's run with the club. In fact, Abreu's 47.0 rWAR with Philadelphia ranks 9th-best in the history of one of the oldest franchises in American sports history, just shy of Sherry Magee (47.8) and ahead of Jimmy Rollins (46.0).
Despite his marching towards the wrong side of 30, the Venezuelan outfielder was still a productive hitter at the plate. Signed through 2008, Abreu helped the Yankees not only for the remainder of 2006, but also two subsequent seasons, slashing .295/.378/.465, posting a 120 OPS+, clubbing 43 home runs while swiping 57 bases in 78 attempts in pinstripes. However, his defense in right field became a liability, costing the Yankees 3.7 wins according to Baseball Reference' dWAR. Overall, Abreu racked up a healthy 6.7 fWAR and a nice 6.9 bWAR during his two-and-a-half-year stint in Bronx.
Lidle, who was shipped to New York alongside Abreu, pitched to a 5.16 ERA and 6.35 FIP, struck out 32 while walking 19 in 45.1 post-trade innings before being tragically killed when a plane he was piloting crashed into a Manhattan building a mere four days after the Yankees elimination from the playoffs.
On the other hand, the deal netted the Phillies virtually nothing. Among four player sent from New York to Philadelphia, only Matt Smith, he of the 12.2 innings, appeared in big league games with the Phillies. Carlos Monasterios, the other player in the mix who did reach the majors, logged 88.1 mediocre innings with the Dodgers in 2010, and that was his big league career. C.J. Henry, the 17th overall pick in the 2005 draft and seemingly the key piece in the deal, never made it above high-A with a career OPS of .649 in the minors, and was out of affiliated ball in two years after the trade. Jesus Sanchez, the final player in the deal, is currently roaming around in Mexico [Editor's Note: We aren't sure if he is literally roaming around Mexico].
Ironically, the Phillies, who were 49-54 at the time, went 36-23 the rest of the season and finished with a respectable 85-77 record. However, given the fact that they were three games behind the Wild Card-winning Dodgers, it's tough to say they would have advanced to the postseason even with Abreu's service down the stretch.
Kazuto Yamazaki is a contributor to Beyond the Box Score.