The Sports Daily > Hall of Very Good
Five Superstars Who Were Traded in their Prime: Stanton’s Not the First

MLB history is filled with trades that wound up being hugely lopsided. Every year, dozens of prospects are moved, and inevitably, some of them go onto greatness. Players like Max Scherzer, Randy Johnson, Jeff Bagwell, and John Smoltz were all traded before their original teams knew just what they had.

What you don’t see every day is an established star – and reigning MVP – get moved by his current team. But that’s exactly what happened this year when Derek Jeter and the Marlins dealt NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees as part of their rebuilding effort (read: complete tank job).

Stanton was just one of the many key players Miami moved in the offseason. They also traded CF Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, LF Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, and CF Dee Gordon to Seattle. Now, if you go to any of the sportsbooks you will see that the Marlins have the lowest over/under win total in all of baseball (64.5) by a wide margin. Check to see which pages list the starting pitchers before you bet on win totals, some don’t. This list of betting sites from My Top Sportsbooks should have some info for that, or who’s got the best selection for MLB wagers.

Rare though it is to see a player of Stanton’s caliber traded, Miami isn’t the first team to part ways with a superstar. Let’s look at five other current/future Hall of Famers who have been sent packing in their primes.

Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers

The Rangers aren’t what you’d call a “small-market” team, but A-Rod’s price tag in 2003 was enough to make Warren Buffet gasp. After the ’03 season, Texas dealt Rodriguez (the reigning NL MVP) and his $252 million contract to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano. A-Rod would lead Yankees to the 2009 World Series and win two more MVP awards in the Bronx. Money well spent?

Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics

The Athletics are what you’d call a “small-market” team, and after a string of great seasons in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, they fell on hard times. During the 1997 season, with Big Mac’s contract set to expire, the A’s sent their last remaining Bash Brother to St. Louis for a bunch of nobodies: T.J. Matthews, Eric Ludwick, and Blake Stein. Yes, they would have lost him for nothing in the offseason, but that’s still a weak return for a future 70-homer guy.

Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners

In 1999, two years after he won AL MVP, Ken Griffey Jr. was eager to move closer to his hometown of Cincinnati, and the Seattle Mariners obliged. They traded “The Kid” to the Reds for Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, and a couple prospects who never amounted to much.

It turned out Seattle traded their star at just the right time. After going to 11 straight All-Star games with Seattle, Griffey would go to just three more in nine seasons in Cincinnati and never finished higher than 24th in MVP voting again.

Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis), Florida Marlins

The Stanton deal isn’t the first time the Marlins have traded the face of their franchise. Back in 2007 when they were still the Florida Marlins, penny-pinching owner Jeffrey Loria got rid of basically every good player on his roster, including sending Miguel Cabrera and former NL Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for a bunch of prospects who never really amounted to anything. Cabrera had already been to four All-Star games and finished top-five in MVP voting twice. He would go onto to win the award twice with the Tigers (though Willis flamed out entirely).

Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers and Florida Marlins

Mike Piazza may go down as the best offensive catcher in baseball history, and he was beloved in Los Angeles. But that didn’t stop the Dodgers from shipping him to Florida in 1998. Another impending free-agent, Piazza actually fetched quite the haul from the Marlins, who are always eager to unload useful players it seems. Gary Sheffield, an aging Bobby Bonilla, and a handful of other players went back to the City of Angels.

Piazza’s time in Florida only lasted five games, as the Marlins turned around and sent him to the Mets for, as usual, a group of prospects who didn’t pan out.

I guess that’s just the “Marlins Way.”