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Revisiting the 2006 MLB trade deadline, part 2

The Rays got one of the best players in the generation in the summer of 2006, while the Mariners lost one.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We are almost three weeks past the trade deadline, and this kind of article gets more time irrelevant. But since I stated in part one that this would be a two-part series, there needs to be part two. And here it is.

In this article, I took a look back at a couple more trades that dramatically altered franchises' fate 10 summers ago.

Without further ado:

Aubrey Huff for Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist

On their way to the eighth last-place finish in the AL East in their first nine years of existence, the Devil Rays shipped Huff, who was the franchise leader in almost every offensive category at that point and set to be a free agent after the season, to Houston in exchange for a pair of prospects.

After the deal, Huff hit a solid .250/.341/.478 in 261 plate appearances with the Astros, to the tune of a 107 OPS+. It's notable that his 13 home runs were fifth-most among Astros hitters that year, despite the fact that he spent more than a half of the season with another club.

Even with Huff's effort, the reigning National League champions missed the playoffs by 1.5 games and didn't make it back until 2015. One could say it was the very beginning of the winter in Houston, which would include an abysmal three-year stretch where the club went a combined 162-324. Huff, who departed for Baltimore after 2006, was no part of that misery.

On the other side of the deal, Talbot, who was seen as the main piece of the return, didn't pan out well. All he did with the Rays was give up 12 runs on 16 hits, including three long balls, in a mere 9.2 innings before being dealt to Cleveland in a December 2009 trade that netted the Rays catching juggernaut Kelly Shoppach.

However, the best player in this trade turned out to be then-fringy prospect Ben Zobrist.

For the first couple of years, he looked exactly like a fringy prospect — a light-hitting shortstop with a .200/.234/.275 line over parts of two seasons. Things started to turn around for him in 2008, when he hit .253/.339/.505 in 227 plate appearances while playing six different positions. Looking back now, this was when he crawled out of his cocoon and turned into a fully-fledged super utility infielder.

Following year, he flew even farther away and mightier, posting a .297/.405/.543 line, swatting 27 home runs in 599 plate appearances and swiping 17 bases in 23 attempts while manning all non-battery positions on the field. The switch hitter ranked first in fWAR, second in bWAR (8.6 each) and 10th in WARP (6.52) among all hitters that season and earned his first of three All-Star appearances so far in his career.

From 2008 to 2014, the finals year of his tenure with the Rays, Zobrist accumulated a 36.6 fWAR and 38.4 bWAR, fourth and seventh-best among all hitters, respectively. So, essentially, the Rays swapped two months of the best player in franchise history at the time for what would become one of the best position player duos, along with Evan Longoria, for the next half-decade.  

Ben Zobrist is what makes baseball fascinating. Ben Zobrist is the reason why you can't judge a trade on the day it happened. No one, except for Biff Tannen with the Gray's Sports Almanac in the parallel universe from Back to the Future 2, could envision this (don't well actually me and point out the fact that the book covers up until only 2000, thanks).  It was a result of the Rays' great pro scouting and development, and most of all, Zobrist's work ethic.

Ben Broussard for Shin-soo Choo and a PTBNL

From the Mariners' perspective, this ended up being yet another poster child of Bill Bavasi transactions.

At the time of the trade, the Mariners were three games below .500 but also only three games behind the first place in the AL West. The problem was they had gotten little-to-no production for DH position, as Carl Everett, their primary DH, was hitting a dreadful .227/.297/.360 in 353 plate appearances. Feeling in need of an upgrade, the M's targeted Broussard, who had slashed .289/.331/.484 in 465 plate appearance with the Tribe.  Throughout his career in Cleveland, Broussard hit right-handed pitchers .280/.345/.487, good for a 118 wRC+. So he seemed like an ideal candidate to replace Everett, who was at the tail end of his 14-year career. Broussard reunited with Eduardo Perez, his platoon partner in Cleveland whom the Mariners had acquired a month earlier.

Neither of the duo met the club's expectations, as Broussard performed to a pedestrian .238/.282/.427 in 177 trips to the plate and Perez slashed an even worse .195/.304/.241 in 102 plate appearances for Seattle. Lacking the big bat they wanted, the Mariners went 29-32 the rest of the way en route to their third consecutive last-place finish in the division.

Perez retired from baseball after the season. Broussard spent another mediocre year in Seattle before being shipped to Texas, where his career crushed into the ground.

Choo, on the other hand, became a bona fide regular in 2008 and posted a .291/.384/.471 slash line to go with 80 long balls in 2745 plate appearances over the five-year stretch starting that year. It's worth noting that it was Asdrubal Cabrera the Mariners gave up for Perez. Essentially, Seattle turned a pair of future regulars into a platoon DH combination that produced poorly down the stretch.  

However, as Rob Neyer wrote in December 2013, the deal itself didn't look that bad, at least at the time. Though you need to keep in mind that trading somewhat legitimate prospects for a platoon DH always comes with risk.

If there's a silver lining for Mariners fans, it's the fact that they got the best musician in the deal. Listener, I can say Broussard composes and plays high-quality songs.


Kazuto Yamazaki is a contributor to Beyond the Box Score.