Why don't teams make seven- or eight-player deals any more?
These sorts of deals, intended to shake up rosters of teams that had fallen into ruts, used to be common. Of course, that was in an era devoid of no-trade clauses, which make many transactions much more difficult. Here's one that didn't help either team right away, but paid dividends for one later on:
June 15, 1976: The New York Yankees traded Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, Scott McGregor and Dave Pagan to the Baltimore Orioles for Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson.
Holtzman wound up rotting in the Yankees' bullpen; Alexander didn't make it to 1977 with New York; Hendricks was almost done. But Martinez, Dempsey and McGregor became key parts of an Orioles team that would win the World Series in 1983.
Kevin Mitchell was involved in two mega-deals within a year:
December 11, 1986: The San Diego Padres traded Adam Ging (minors), Kevin McReynolds and Gene Walter to the New York Mets for Kevin Armstrong (minors), Kevin Brown (minors), Shawn Abner, Stan Jefferson and Kevin Mitchell.
July 5, 1987: The San Francisco Giants traded Chris Brown, Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant to the San Diego Padres for Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell.
Mitchell didn't do much for the Giants in 1987, but he was MVP with San Francisco in 1989, when the Giants won the pennant. (The Kevin Brown in the first deal wasn't the pitcher who later became famous for the Rangers and Dodgers, among others; it was this guy.)
In more recent times, there have been a number of seven-plus player deals involving more than one team, several of which involved Billy Beane:
January 8, 2001: As part of a 3-team trade: The Oakland Athletics sent Ben Grieve to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Oakland Athletics sent Angel Berroa and A.J. Hinch to the Kansas City Royals. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Cory Lidle to the Oakland Athletics. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Roberto Hernandez to the Kansas City Royals. The Kansas City Royals sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to the Oakland Athletics.
July 5, 2002: As part of a 3-team trade: The Oakland Athletics sent a player to be named later, Franklyn German and Carlos Pena to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Jason Arnold (minors), John-Ford Griffin and Ted Lilly to the Oakland Athletics. The Detroit Tigers sent Jeff Weaver to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent cash to the Oakland Athletics. The Oakland Athletics sent Jeremy Bonderman (August 22, 2002) to the Detroit Tigers to complete the trade.
Then there was a four-team deal centered around Nomar Garciaparra, who was supposed to lead the 2004 Cubs to the World Series. The trade helped win the World Series -- for the team that sent Nomar away, as Orlando Cabrera hit .379/.424/.448 in the ALCS for the Red Sox.
July 31, 2004: As part of a 4-team trade: The Boston Red Sox sent Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs. The Minnesota Twins sent Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox. The Montreal Expos sent Orlando Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox. The Chicago Cubs sent Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris to the Montreal Expos. The Chicago Cubs sent Justin Jones (minors) to the Minnesota Twins.
Then there was this recent one, that helped send three teams to the postseason in 2011:
December 8, 2009: As part of a 3-team trade: The Detroit Tigers sent Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers.
So why don't teams try to do this more often? Yes, I know all about contract hassles, but most of the players involved in the recent deals either didn't have NTCs, or waived them, or weren't subject to any sort of restriction. Shaking up your roster can have positive effects. After the 1954 season, the 103-win Yankees, relegated to second place by the Indians, felt they had to shake up their roster, and made a seventeen-player swap with the Orioles, who had lost 100 games in their first year in Baltimore:
November 17, 1954: The New York Yankees traded players to be named later, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos and Gene Woodling to the Baltimore Orioles for players to be named later, Billy Hunter, Don Larsen and Bob Turley. The New York Yankees sent Bill Miller (December 1, 1954), Kal Segrist (December 1, 1954), Don Leppert (December 1, 1954) and Ted Del Guercio (minors) (December 1, 1954) to the Baltimore Orioles to complete the trade. The Baltimore Orioles sent Mike Blyzka (December 1, 1954), Darrell Johnson (December 1, 1954), Jim Fridley (December 1, 1954) and Dick Kryhoski (December 1, 1954) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.
The Yankees headed back to the World Series -- in part, thanks to Larsen and Turley, who became mainstays of their pitching staff. Meanwhile, players like Miranda, Triandos and Woodling helped the Orioles to respectability, and eventually, contention by 1960.
And then there's the perhaps apocryphal story of Bill Veeck, who owned the Orioles' predecessor, the St. Louis Browns, in the early 1950s. Supposedly, Veeck was going to swap the Browns' entire 25-man roster for that of another bad team -- perhaps the Tigers -- in an effort to shake up both squads. The deal failed when each GM began to say, "I want to keep just this one guy," and one by one the trade fell apart.
But would such a thing work today? Could teams in trouble, like the Astros, Orioles or Athletics, simply trade entire rosters? Ignoring NTCs and 10-and-5 rights for now, which teams should try this?