The MLB trade deadline is here, and as teams acquire players in preparation for a postseason run, we explore the top 25 midseason trades of all-time.
The MLB trade deadline was first established in 1923. As the story goes, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis implemented the rule on the suggestion of Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in an effort to keep the competitive balance in check across the big leagues. For the first six decades of its existence, the trade deadline was set for June 15.
In 1986, as part of the collective bargaining agreement stemming from the 1985 strike, the deadline was pushed back to July 31, where it sits today. In the days leading up to the deadline are some of the most exciting for baseball fans everywhere, contending clubs are busy trying to acquire the missing piece to their lineup or pitching staff, either by landing a star or a part-time player to fill a hole or build depth.
Meanwhile, sellers are also excited to see what talented prospects come back in exchange for aging veterans. And the anticipation on all fronts, especially as the days, hours and minutes tick down, is high.
Sometimes it works out beautifully, and a contender in need makes the perfect deal to acquire a player to push them to the World Series. Other times, general managers strike out entirely, or make the wrong move and set a franchise back for years to come.
Most of the trades we’ll mention here occurred on or around July 31. Almost all occurred at some point in July. However, in a few special instances, we mention deals that occurred earlier or later in the summer, including two in June (one of which took place when the deadline was in June), and two in August, after the non-waiver trade deadline.
With that in mind, we take a chronological look at the top 25 midsummer trades in baseball history.
25. Cardinals acquire Lou Brock, June 15, 1964
Not many Hall of Fame players were traded at the deadline, and rivals like the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals rarely make deals with one another. However, in 1964, the Cubs traded a speedy young outfielder name Lou Brock to St. Louis in a five-player deal that helped spring the Cardinals to the World Series, and helped put Brock on a path to Cooperstown.
Brock hit .257/.306/.383 with 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases in parts of four seasons with the Cubs, and emerged as an everyday outfielder with the club. But after hitting .251/.300/.340 with two homers and 14 RBI in 52 games to start the ’64 season, Chicago felt the 25-year-old was expendable.
When the Cardinals acquired Brock along with Doug Clemens, Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz in exchange for Jack Spring and Paul Toth, the club was 28-31, seven games out of first place in the National League standings. Sparked by Brock, who hit .348/.387/.527 with 12 homer, 44 RBI and 33 stolen bases, St. Louis finished atop the division ahead of the Reds and Phillies by a single game to win the National League pennant with a 93-69 record. The Cardinals then beat the Yankees in a dramatic seven-game World Series.
Brock, who finished 10th in the voting for the NL MVP, was 9-for-30 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI in the Fall Classic. He also scored two runs. Three years later, Brock won his second World Championship, and two decades later he was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.