There is no shortage of activity during this playoff season of those non-postseason teams trying to improve themselves so they too can be playing at this time next season. The Arizona Diamondbacks are no exception, swinging a couple of trades last weekend in an attempt to dump salary and improve the bullpen. With that in mind, here are three trades in D’Back history that were home runs for the organization. Keep in mind there are probably several of your own you can think of and perhaps are better than the ones I list. I wanted one trade per D’Back playoff appearance “era” (1999-2002, 2007 and 2011) that had a big impact on those teams. There were so many great deals done in the late 90’s (trades for Matt Williams, Tony Womack, etc.) that it was hard to choose just one from that era. And there are some more recent ones (Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin) that may turn out to be great.
Curt Schilling had two of his best seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Image: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
July 26, 2000-Curt Schilling for Omar Daal, Travis Lee, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla–This is arguably the best trade in D’Back history as the club traded for a dominant pitcher still in the prime of his career. Schilling was rescued from (at the time) the consistently dormant Philadelphia Phillies and dropped into Arizona five days before the 2000 trading deadline. In addition to leading the D’Back to the 2001 World Series title, he finished as the runner-up for the Cy Young Award twice and still ranks in the top 5 in many Snakes’ pitching categories. The best two years of Schilling’s career came in 2001 and 2002, winning a total of 45 games. As for the players sent to the the Phillies, only Padilla lasted in Philly beyond 2003. Daal and Lee each had one decent season while Figueroa barely spent any time in Philly.
December 20, 2005-Chris Young, Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez-Only Young stayed with Arizona past the 2006 season as both Hernandez and Vizcaino found their way to New York with El Duque going to the Mets before ’06 ended and the Viz heading to the Yankees for 2007. Young’s blend of speed and power came to fruition in 2007 playing a big role in the D’Backs’ run to the National League Championship Series, placing fourth in the Rookie of the Year race. CY also helped the team win the National League West in 2011 losing in five games to the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. As for Vasquez, he spent three seasons with the Chicago White Sox after the trade, a solid second year sandwiched by two below average campaigns.
August 23, 2011-Aaron Hill and John McDonald for Kelly Johnson–Hill was reborn once he got to the desert, hitting .315 in 33 games helping to solidify Arizona’s worst-to-first season last year. In 2012, the Second Baseman was perhaps the best everyday player hitting 26 home runs with 85 RBI’s while hitting .302. He also made history by becoming the first player to hit for the cycle twice in one season since 1931. McDonald is a valuable utility man, the type of player that excels in limited playing time for good teams. Johnson has had decent power numbers for the Toronto Blue Jays but hit only .225 during his first full season North of the Border.
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