The Los Angeles Dodgers are going all in again in 2018. On Wednesday, general manager Farhan Zaidi pulled off a blockbuster 5-for-1 trade that will bring four-time All-Star Manny Machado over from the Baltimore Orioles.
It’s the second straight year Los Angeles has struck a pre-deadline deal to bring in a major soon-to-be free agent. At the July 31 deadline last season, the Dodgers pulled off a buzzer-beating trade to land pitcher Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers.
Both deals would have to be considered among the most notable “rental trades” we’ve seen in the last 10 years. Rental meaning trading for a player you’re not guaranteed to have the following season. It’s a risky proposition, knowing you’ll be giving up prospects for as little as two months of production. If it doesn’t pan out, you’ve sacrificed a part of your future for little to no gain. Yet it’s a decision general managers with win-now attitudes must weigh.
Past rental trades have produced varying degrees of success. Some have been true difference makers. Others less impactful. Pretty much all of them though have been interesting. Here, we’ve picked out just a few that have stood out over the past 10 seasons.
Yu Darvish – Los Angeles Dodgers (2017)
Players traded: Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis
Might as well begin with the one freshest in our minds. In nine regular season starts for Los Angeles, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.44 ERA. In the postseason he won starts in the NLDS and NLCS, which helped the Dodgers to the World Series. That’s where things went downhill.
In two World Series starts, Darvish allowed four earned runs in each start without getting out of the second inning. The Dodgers would lose both games and the series in seven. After the season, Darvish didn’t feel comfortable staying in LA. He signed a six-year, $126 million with the Chicago Cubs over the winter.
David Price – Toronto Blue Jays (2015)
Players traded: Daniel Norris, Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd
The Blue Jays were just trying to stay afloat when they acquired Price from the Detroit Tigers. Toronto was two games above .500 when Price arrived. From that point on they went 40-18 to wrap up first place in the AL East. Price was an undeniable part of that, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA.
In the postseason, Price was not so good. He posted a 6.18 ERA over four starts. Toronto would go on to lose to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS in six games. Still, he helped Toronto end a 22-year postseason drought. That was worth it.
Price inked a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox following the season.
Jon Lester – Oakland Athletics (2014)
Players traded: Yoenis Cespedes
Results: Not Good
We’re not sure yet what the A’s will do in 2018. In 2014, they definitely went for it, adding Lester and Jonny Gomes in a deal with the Boston Red Sox.
The theme here has been good regular season followed by disappointing postseason. That continues with Lester. While he was superb down the stretch, posting a 2.35 ERA over 76 2/3 innings, Lester was roughed up in Oakland’s Wild-Card Game loss to the Royals. In 7.1 innings, Lester allowed six runs on eight hits.
In the end, the A’s gave up a really good player for one terrible postseason game. Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs during the 2014 Winter Meetings.
Aroldis Chapman – Chicago Cubs (2016)
Players traded: Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.
The Cubs traded a future All-Star in Torres to the New York Yankees for three months of Chapman. It was well worth it as they went on to end a 108 year World Series drought.
Chapman was flat out filthy after the trade. In 26.2 innings, he posted a 1.01 ERA while striking out 46. He had a rough Game 7 in the World Series, allowing a game-tying home run to Rajai Davis in the ninth inning. He would later blame that on being misused by manager Joe Maddon. Chapman was otherwise splendid in the postseason too.
In the offseason, Chapman returned to the Yankees on a five-year, $86 million deal.
Carlos Beltran – San Francisco Giants (2011)
Players traded: Zack Wheeler
Results: Good and Bad
This was a case where the player was very good, but the team didn’t benefit. Beltran hit .323 with seven home runs in 44 games after coming over from the Mets. But the Giants still failed to make the postseason one year after winning the World Series. He agreed to a two-year, $26 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals during the offseason.
The Giants would rebound in 2012 to win their second of three championships in five seasons. Beltran would have to wait until his 20th and final season before winning a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017.
CC Sabathia – Milwaukee Brewers (2008)
Players traded: Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, Zack Jackson and Rob Bryson
In terms of player production, you won’t find a better rental than Sabathia down the stretch for the 2008 Brewers. Sabathia enjoyed perhaps the best stretch of his career after coming over from the Cleveland Indians. Over 17 starts, he notched seven complete games while posting a 1.65 ERA. He even contributed 11 hits at the plate, including a home run.
Of course, the postseason was less good. Sabathia allowed five runs in less than four innings in an NLDS loss to the Phillies. He would sign with the Yankees for a then record seven years and $161 million.
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