Best waiver trades of wild card era
Major League Baseball's July 31 trading deadline is often referred to as simply that, when in reality it is actually the
The waivers process makes trades, particularly those of high-quality players, more difficult, but big trades still happen after July 31. The wild card-era waiver trade that turned out to have the most star power was likely the August 26, 2003 trade that sent Pirates All-Star outfielder
The post-trade performances of players dealt after the non-waiver deadline are small samples by definition, and the period in which those players have to contribute is typically too brief for them to amass any sort of eye-catching counting stats. Still, here are five of the best post-waiver-trade performances from the wild card era:
The Cardinals were in fifth place in the NL wild card race, five games behind the Diamondbacks, and just two games over .500 when they acquired Williams from the Padres on August 2, 2001. With Williams leading the way, they then went 39-17 (.696) the rest of the way to win the wild card by three games. In his final six starts, Williams went 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA, completing half of those six starts, one of them a two-hit shutout, and lasting seven innings in each of the other three. In his one no-decision in that stretch, Williams twirled seven shutout innings in an eventual 2-1 loss. Williams was again dominant in his Game 2 start in the Division Series against the NL West-champion Diamondbacks, but the Cardinals lost that series in five games before Williams could take another turn. He did, however, remain in St. Louis for three more seasons, going 38-21 (.644) with a 3.71 ERA for the Cardinals after 2001.
The Cardinals already had a big 10 1/2-game lead in the NL Central when they acquired 37-year-old Rockies star Walker on August 6. Not only did Walker prove that he could rake at sea level over the remaining two months of the regular season, he was a key bat in the lineup as the Cardinals claimed their first pennant since 1987. Walker hit .293/.379/.707 in the postseason with six home runs and 11 RBIs and was the Cardinals' leading hitter in the World Series, though St. Louis lost in four games to the Red Sox. Walker then stuck around and hit .289/.384/.502 in 2005, but his season was interrupted by injury and, after failing to repeat his postseason heroics, he retired.
The Mariners missed the playoffs by three games in 1996, but it was no fault of their waiver-trade additions.
The Dodgers went 17-12 after acquiring Anderson from the Nationals on August 31, but the Padres, buoyed by waiver-trade addition
The Twins were a .500 team, 4 1/2 games out in the AL Central when they acquired Rauch from the Diamondbacks on August 28 of last year. They then went 22-12 over the remainder of the season to force a one-game playoff with the Tigers, a 12-inning epic that the Twins ultimately won 6-5 (Rauch got two outs in the seventh to keep a leadoff walk by starter