These are trades every general manager would love to make — at least, in terms of the bottom line. That is, trades that do more than simply give a team a push. These trades won the World Series, or at least made winning it possible.
Here are nine transactions that helped seven teams finish the deal going back nine years. They are listed in reverse chronological order.
1) Daniel Hudson to the Nationals (2019)
Nats sent RHP Kyle Johnston to Blue Jays
Right man, right place, right time. In the best three-month stretch of his career, Hudson solidified the back end of what had been a terrible Nationals bullpen after they acquired him from the Blue Jays. With Sean Doolittle healthy and some creative use of lefty starter Patrick Corbin, the Nationals rallied from a 19-31 start, erased all their October demons and came from behind to win World Series Game 7 in Houston. Having been released in the spring of both 2018 and '19 by the Rays and Angels, Hudson was on the mound to close out the Fall Classic, the biggest out he’ll probably ever record.
2) Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox (2018)
Red Sox sent LHP Jalen Beeks to Rays
Eovaldi had a 1.61 ERA in six postseason appearances, and his biggest contribution was in the only World Series game the Red Sox didn’t win. That came in Game 3, when he went six innings on one day of rest to save the Boston bullpen and help them win Games 4 and 5. He had a 3.33 ERA in 12 regular-season appearances.
3) Justin Verlander to the Astros (2017)
Astros sent C Jake Rogers, CF Daz Cameron and RHP Franklin Perez to Tigers
The Astros had just finished an 11-17 August and looked like a team headed for an early postseason exit when Verlander was acquired from the Tigers. He promptly changed both the team’s tone and expectations and was also almost perfect, going 9-1 with a 1.66 ERA in September and October. The Astros won four of his five postseason starts, and he pitched in relief in the American League Division Series clincher at Fenway Park.
4) Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs (2016)
Cubs sent IF Gleyber Torres, RHP Adam Warren, CF Rashad Crawford and OF/1B Billy McKinney to Yankees
This one is more complicated because Chapman almost coughed up Game 7 of the World Series by surrendering a still shocking three-run homer to Rajai Davis. Before that, he transformed a decent Cubs bullpen into one of baseball’s three best by making good on 16 of 18 save chances with a 1.01 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. He closed out clinching games against the Giants and Dodgers in the first two rounds of the postseason and went 2 2/3 innings to finish Game 5 of the World Series to help keep the Cubs alive.
Yes, Chapman ran out of gas in Game 7, but he played a huge role in breaking a 108-year championship drought, and Cubs fans will forgive the fact that they had to give up Gleyber Torres to get him.
5-6) Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist to the Royals (2015)
Royals sent LHPs Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed to Reds for Cueto; LHP Sean Manaea and RHP Aaron Brooks to A’s for Zobrist
Cueto’s overall numbers weren’t great, but he delivered a pair of huge postseason performances that helped notch the Royals' first championship in 30 years. He went eight innings to close out ALDS Game 5 against the Astros, and then pitched a complete-game victory in World Series Game 2 against the Mets to give the Royals a 2-0 series lead.
Zobrist, acquired from the A’s, had 10 extra-base hits and an .880 OPS in 16 postseason games.
7) Hunter Pence to the Giants (2012)
Giants sent RHPs Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin and Nate Schierholtz to Phillies
Pence's bases-loaded double broke open National League Championship Series Game 7 against St. Louis, and he contributed offense in three of the four World Series wins. Beyond the numbers, though, Giants manager Bruce Bochy credited Pence's energy and gung-ho style with giving San Francisco a bolt of energy. Bochy had lobbied his front office to acquire Pence since managing him in the 2011 All-Star Game. Pence also batted .444 in the '14 World Series for the Giants.
8-9) Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals (2011)
Cardinals sent OF Colby Rasmus, LHPs Trever Miller and Brian Tallet and RHP P.J. Walters to Blue Jays for Jackson, Dotel and Rzepczynski; OF Alex Castellanos to Dodgers for Furcal
Sometimes, it’s the smallest trades that make the biggest difference. In one deal, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak tightened his defense by acquiring shortstop Furcal from the Dodgers. In the other, he got Jackson, Dotel and Rzepczynski from the Blue Jays. Neither deal was the kind of bombshell transaction we look for at the Trade Deadline, but the Cardinals won 23 of their final 32 regular-season games with Furcal playing well at short, Jackson eating innings and the relievers giving manager Tony La Russa extra options. Rzepczynski was dominant in October, allowing one run in nine appearances in the NLCS and World Series.
The Cardinals were already an excellent team, but it’s impossible to see them winning if Mozeliak hadn’t made these trades.