Call 2015 the year of the rental ace. In the past week alone, we've seen Scott Kazmir, Johnny Cueto and now David Price -- all pitchers in the final season of their contract -- switch teams.
It's a risky proposition for a club to give up Minor League talent to acquire a player for only about two months (maybe three, if they're lucky).
In 1987, the Tigers landed proven veteran Doyle Alexander from the Braves in a midseason deal. Alexander helped pitch Detroit to a division title on the final weekend of the season. All the team had to send to Atlanta in return was little-known 22nd-round pick John Smoltz.
Twenty-one Hall-of-Fame seasons later, the Tigers were clearly the losers of that Trade Deadline deal. But renting players in July to make a playoff push in September isn't always a bad idea.
With that in mind, here are the 10 players in the Wild Card era who have had the biggest impact after being dealt in the final year of their contract.
10. Charles Johnson, 2000 White Sox
Trade: From Baltimore with Harold Baines, for Brook Fordyce and three Minor Leaguers
Date: July 29, 2000
WAR after trade: 2.0
Known as one of the better defensive catchers -- and pitch framers -- of his generation, Johnson posted his best offensive season in 2000. With the Orioles floundering in a brutal American League East, Johnson went to Chicago at the Deadline along with Baines. Following the deal, Johnson hit .326/.411/.607 while throwing out 38 percent of would-be basestealers. The move paid off for the White Sox, who took home their first division title in seven years. They were knocked out in the first round -- though it was no fault of Johnson, who hit .333 in the series.
9. Chase Headley, 2014 Yankees
Trade: From San Diego, for Rafael De Paula and Yangervis Solarte
Date: July 22, 2014
WAR after trade: 2.1
Last year's Deadline-day rentals included Jon Lester and John Lackey, but no player in the final year of his deal had a bigger impact on an AL club than Headley -- who announced his arrival in the Bronx with a game-winning single the night he was traded. It's hard to call the trade a complete success because Headley and the Yankees missed the playoffs -- making him the only player on this list to do so -- but the Yankees re-signed him in the offseason, and he's been decent for a first-place club this season.
8. Jake Peavy, 2014 Giants
Trade: From Boston, for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree
Date: July 26, 2014
WAR after trade: 2.1
Oddly enough, Peavy is the only player on this list who actually won the World Series in the season he was traded. In fact, he's also the only player on this list to make it that far. Peavy's 2014 campaign started out inconspicuously, as he opened the season 1-9 for Boston. But after being dealt midseason, Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts for the Giants and went on to become the first player in history to win back-to-back World Series in seasons during which he was traded.
7. David Cone, 1995 Yankees
Trade: From Toronto, for Marty Janzen and two Minor Leaguers
Date: July 28, 1995
WAR after trade: 2.6
When David Cone came to New York, the Yankees sat in third place in the AL East and a game below .500. Cone made an immediate impact by winning each of his first four starts and allowing just eight runs in 32 innings over that time. He won nine games in those final two months, helping lead the Yankees to their first trip to the postseason in 13 years. He started Games 1 and 5 of the AL Division Series, but got knocked around a bit by the Mariners. He re-signed with New York in the offseason and become an integral part of four World Series-winning teams.
6. Matt Holliday, 2009 Cardinals
Trade: From Oakland, for Clayton Mortensen, Shane Peterson and Brett Wallace
Date: July 24, 2009
WAR after trade: 2.6
It's very possible that the 2009 Cardinals would've won the National League Central without Holliday. But when they acquired the right-handed slugger, they instantly became a World Series favorite. Those dreams never came to fruition -- in part because of Holliday's own error. (He misplayed a line drive in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, which ultimately cost the Cardinals the game and possibly the series.) Still, Holliday hit .353/.419/.604 for St. Louis down the stretch. And after re-signing that offseason, he played an integral part in the 2011 title run.
5. Manny Ramirez, 2008 Dodgers
Trade: From Boston, in a three-team trade for Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris
Date: July 31, 2008
WAR after trade: 3.5
The Dodgers were 54-54 when Ramirez joined the fray as part of a three-team blockbuster at the 2008 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Turns out, that was just what L.A. needed. Manny started his tenure at Chavez Ravine by winning NL Player of the Month for August, hitting .415 with nine homers. Including the postseason, Ramirez hit .410 in his 2 1/2-month stay in "Mannywood" that season. It's hard to overstate Ramirez's value to that Dodgers team, but because he switched leagues midseason, he finished fourth in the NL MVP Award voting. Ramirez re-signed in the offseason and led the Dodgers to another NLCS in '09.
4. Mark Teixeira, 2008 Angels
Trade: From Atlanta, for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek
Date: July 29, 2008
WAR after trade: 3.7
Like Price with the Tigers, Teixeira was dealt to the Braves with a season and a half left on his contract -- only to be traded again the following season. The Braves dealt Teixeira to the Angels, with whom the slugging first baseman posted one of the better post-trade second halves of all-time -- free-agent-to-be or otherwise. Teixeira hit .358/.449/.632 for the Angels and reached the playoffs for the first time in his career. He shined on that stage, too, going 7-for-15 in a first-round loss to Boston.
3. Carlos Beltran, 2004 Astros
Trade: From Kansas City, in a three-way trade for John Buck and Octavio Dotel
Date: July 24, 2004
WAR after trade: 3.7
Beltran's 2004 season will forever be remembered for his spectacular October power surge, but most people forget he actually started the '04 campaign in Kansas City. In fact, if it hadn't been for the midseason acquisition of Beltran, there's a good chance the Astros, in fifth-place in the NL Central at the time, don't make the playoffs at all. But Houston went 44-21 after acquiring Beltran, thanks in large part to his 23 second-half home runs. From there, Beltran went on to tie an MLB record with eight postseason dingers before signing with the Mets in the offseason.
2. Randy Johnson, 1998 Astros
Trade: From Seattle, for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama
Date: July 31, 1998
WAR after trade: 4.3
Former teammates Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. That's right -- for half a season, the pair teamed up on one of the best clubs ever to lose in the Division Series. The Astros were already 21 games above .500 when they acquired Johnson on Deadline day, and he helped them double that. Houston finished with a franchise-best 102 wins -- 10 of which belonged to the Big Unit, who went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in the over the final two months. Johnson allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings in his two postseason starts that year, but he lost both, as the Astros exited in the first round.
1. CC Sabathia, 2008 Brewers
Trade: From Cleveland, for Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and a Minor Leaguer
Date: July 7, 2008
WAR after trade: 4.9
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better second half than the one Sabathia put together for the playoff-starved Brewers during the 2008 season. He practically put them on his back en route to the club's first playoff berth in 26 years. In 17 starts, Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA. He threw seven complete games, three of which were shutouts.
Sabathia made his final four starts of the season on three days of rest, including a complete-game gem against the Cubs to clinch the NL Wild Card on the season's final day. It was Sabathia at his finest, equal parts ace and workhorse. And although the Brewers bowed out in the NLDS, plenty of folks in Milwaukee will tell you acquiring Sabathia was well worth the ride.