Activity was frantic at the Major League baseball trading deadline. The Rockies received four prospects from the Indians for star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. The Astros got similar hauls from the Phillies for outfielder Hunter Pence and from the Braves for outfielder Michael Bourn. The Mets acquired highly regarded minor league pitcher Zack Wheeler from the Giants for outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Will any of those be regarded as one of the most lopsided deadline deals in baseball history?
Maybe Jimenez will be as effective as Tom Seaver after he went from the Mets to the Reds in 1977. Perhaps Pence or Bourn will have a Hall-of-Fame career like Lou Brock. Or Wheeler will become as good as John Smoltz after he was shipped from the Tigers to the Braves in 1987.
One-sided midseason deals essentially fall into two categories: A star (Tom Seaver, David Cone, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, etc.) is traded for prospects that never make it. Or an unheralded minor leaguer becomes a huge star (Smoltz, Jeff Bagwell, Michael Young, etc.). In either scenario, determining whether the trade is lopsided usually takes several years.
Many trades where one side fleeced the other -- including a deal immortalized in a "Seinfeld" episode -- are etched in baseball lore. Here are a baker's dozen of lopsided deadline deals.
Tom Seaver from the Mets to the Reds for four players, June 15, 1977: Seaver was well-established as one of baseball's best pitchers when the Mets unloaded him because he was disgruntled. He went 14-3 in 20 starts after the deal, pitched a no-hitter a year later and remained effective for nearly another decade. But the primary reason the trade was lopsided is that none of the four players the Mets acquired became a star: Outfielder Steve Henderson and utility infielder Doug Flynn were average major leaguers, pitcher Pat Zachry was a disappointment and Dan Norman nothing more than a pinch-hitter.