After a 2013 trade from the Orioles to the Cubs, Jake Arrieta jumped from fringe Major League starter to Cy Young Award winner in two seasons. J.D. Martinez's monstrous breakout at the plate coincided with his move from the Astros to the Tigers in '14.
Those are dramatic cases, and certainly, more was involved than simply switching teams. With that said, a change of scenery can help a player bounce back or reach another level, whether it's through better opportunity, different coaching or an environment more conducive to success.
Here is a look at five players who could benefit from joining a new club this offseason, starting with the most recent case.
RP Drew Storen, Nationals to Blue Jays
Despite general manager Mike Rizzo's public comments, a trade of Storen this offseason seemed to be more a matter of "when" than "if." Extending the relationship further would have been somewhat awkward, because despite Storen's overall success in Washington (3.02 ERA over six seasons), the club had replaced him as closer three different times. Most recently, the Nats acquired Jonathan Papelbon in July, despite Storen owning a 1.73 ERA, with 29 saves in 31 chances.
Though Storen initially performed well after Papelbon's arrival, he allowed 16 runs (14 earned) over his final 15 appearances before breaking his right thumb while slamming his locker shut in a moment of frustration. True, the Rogers Centre -- and more generally, the American League East -- isn't usually a great destination for pitchers, and Storen won't necessarily close ahead of Roberto Osuna. But the trade will allow Storen to start fresh with a team that clearly values him, and get out from under the shadow of a couple of high-profile postseason hiccups in D.C.
SP Jeff Samardzija, White Sox to Giants
A lot changed in a year for Samardzija, who was dealt to the Sox in December 2014. The right-hander saw his ERA rise from 2.99 in '14 to 4.96 in '15, his FIP from 3.20 to 4.23 and his opponents' OPS from .646 to .765. Meanwhile, his strikeout-to-walk ratio dropped from 4.7 to 3.3. Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper has a great reputation, but for whatever reason, the partnership didn't click in this case.
The Giants handing Samardzija a five-year, $90 million contract following that performance shows both the high price of pitching on the open market and the potential the club still sees in the pitcher's right arm. Perhaps Dave Righetti, another highly respected pitching coach, will have more success with Samardzija, who has said he believes he was tipping pitches last year. Beyond that, Samardzija goes from a team that ranked 28th in the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved last season (minus-39) to one that ranked fifth (28). And after tying for the AL lead in home runs allowed, Samardzija moves to AT&T Park, the toughest MLB stadium for homers last season according to one measure (U.S. Cellular Field was eighth-easiest).
SP Jon Niese, Mets to Pirates
As Samardzija's 2015 showed, it's never as simple as throwing together a pitcher with a top pitching coach and expecting great results. Yet it's difficult to look at what Ray Searage and the Pirates have accomplished lately and resist the urge for optimism about Niese. No, the Bucs haven't turned every pitcher on their roster into a star, but they have done exceptionally well in recent years with A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez. Could Niese be next?
It helps that the left-hander, who finished seventh in the Majors in ground-ball rate last year, is going to a team that ranked first in that category and has been one of the league's foremost practitioners of the infield shift. Niese also gets to remain in a favorable home ballpark and with a good team, while joining a rotation with a clearer spot for him. Perhaps in Pittsburgh, he can improve on his roughly league-average career performance (61-61, 95 ERA+).
1B Chris Carter, Astros to Brewers
There were plenty of highs and lows during Carter's three seasons in Houston. On one hand, only seven players topped the right-handed slugger's 90 home runs over that span. On the other, only Chris Davis topped his 545 strikeouts, and that was in 251 more plate appearances. Carter got blistering hot with the bat at times, and ice cold at others. Defense at first also has been an issue.
Non-tendered by the Astros, Carter found a land of opportunity in Milwaukee, where the rebuilding Brewers have no reason not to give him every possible chance in 2016. Miller Park is as good a place as any for a power hitter to take advantage, so as he enters his age-29 season, Carter certainly finds himself in a position to succeed -- at least at the plate.
CF Leonys Martin, Rangers to Mariners
New Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto bought low on Martin early this offseason, following a 2015 campaign in which the left-handed batter hit only .219/.264/.313 over 95 games. Martin battled injuries, got replaced by rookie Delino DeShields, was sent to Triple-A in early August and then had surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right hand late that month, essentially ending his season.
Martin, who turns 28 in March, now gets to hit the reset button in Seattle, where he once again owns the keys to the primary center-field job. From 2013-14, Martin hit a respectable .268/.319/.374 (91 OPS+) with 67 steals, his plus defense and speed helping him collect a stellar 8.1 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference.com. His lack of home-run power means Safeco Field shouldn't affect Martin too much as he tries to resurrect his bat and reestablish himself as a big league regular.
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Andrew Simon is a Sports on Earth contributor and a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.