Around mid-summer of every MLB season, fans and writers start wondering what big trades are going to happen between the leading pennant-chasing teams. We can’t wait to see what player is going where right before the trade deadline.
In July of 2019, for instance, the Houston Astros made a huge splash by acquiring former Cy Young award-winner Zack Greinke. Houston is hoping to take home their second World Series championship in three years this October, and Greinke, who has never reached the World Series, is chasing a ring.
Sometimes the trade involves a big-name player, such as Greinke, and in some instances it doesn’t. In the end, it’s the results that matter, not the name.
There have been a handful of instances in Major League Baseball where a player was traded to a new team mid-season, and was able to help his new team to a World Series title.
Here is a look at six players who won their first World
Series ring with their new team after a memorable mid-season trade.
Steve Pearce traded to Boston: From journeyman utility player to World Series MVP
Steve Pearce was the definition of journeyman. By 2018, he had already played for seven teams, and was at the tail-end of a two-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays dealt Pearce to the Red Sox on June 28, 2018, for a minor leaguer and cash. Pearce was a platoon player for the Sox, but he made his presence felt, as he batted a decent .279 with seven home runs and 26 RBI.
Then fate stepped in. Pearce’s platoon partner,
first baseman Mitch Moreland, suffered an injury in the ALDS that kept him out
for the rest of the postseason. Pearce took advantage of the playing time. In
Game 4 of the World Series, Pearce hit a game-tying home run off closer Kenley
Jansen in the top of the 8th inning. In the 9th, he came
up to bat with the bases loaded and proceeded to clear them with a go-ahead
double. The Red Sox hung onto win Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
In Game 5, Pearce slugged two more home runs, and the Sox closed out the series
in Los Angeles. Pearce was named World Series MVP for his heroics. His final
World Series stats included a .333 batting average, 3 home runs and 8 RBIs.
Lou Brock traded to St. Louis: Sparks the ’64 Cardinals to a WS Over the Yankees
In 1964, the Chicago Cubs had given up on outfielder Lou Brock. On June 15, Chicago sent a package deal that included Brock, Paul Toth and Jack Spring to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bobby Shantz, Doug Clemens, and pitcher Ernie Broglio. While the Cubs were ecstatic to have acquired Broglio, who won 18 games the year prior, the Cardinals were excited to have Brock’s speed and power.
Brock batted .348 and stole 38 bases with the
Cardinals in ’64. He also helped spark an incredible comeback season, as the
Cardinals emerged from 8th place in the National League to win the
division. The Cardinals went on to defeat the powerhouse New York Yankees in
the World Series, 4-3.
Aroldis Chapman goes to Chicago: The Cuban Missile Strikes the Indians for the 2016 Cubs.
On July 25, 2016, flamethrower left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman was traded from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford. Chapman helped bolster the bullpen and helped the Cubs win the Division for the first time since 2008.
Every fan knows the rest of the story. The Cubs,
with Chapman in their bullpen for late-inning insurance, went on to win their
first World Series title since 1908, defeating the Cleveland Indians on the
road in Game 7 after being in a 3-1 series deficit. En route to his and the
Cubs’ World Series title, Chapman recorded 4 saves, with 21 strikeouts in 15
2/3 innings in the 2016 postseason.
Justin Verlander traded to Houston: A former MVP finally gets a WS ring in 2017.
By 2017, Detroit’s Justin Verlander had built an impressive MLB career resume as a starting pitcher. He was the 2006 Rookie of the Year, as well as the Cy Young award-winner in 2011, a season in which he won the pitching “triple crown” (ERA, strikeouts, wins) and took home the
American League MVP.
But in following seasons, the right-hander had seen a dip in his velocity and his performance, probably due to core muscle repair surgery that he underwent in January of 2014. He bounced back to finish as the Cy Young runner-up in 2016 and lead the American League in strikeouts. He seemed primed for something special.
In 2017, the Houston Astros acquired Verlander from the Tigers in an August waiver trade deadline deal, with Detroit receiving three prospects in return. Verlander won all of his starts with Houston in the rest of the regular season, going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched.
Verlander was named the ALCS MVP, after going 2−0,
with a 0.56 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. In the World Series, Verlander
gave up 5 runs in 12 innings, while striking out 14. The Astros went on to
defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games, and Verlander finally got a World
Series ring and recognition he long deserved after being in the Majors for over
Rickey Henderson returns to Oakland: The hometown kid leads the ’89 A’s to a WS title.
Star left-fielder Rickey Henderson was drafted by his hometown Oakland Athletics in the fourth round of the 1976 MLB draft, two picks ahead of future Blue Jays teammate, Jack Morris. He played with the club from 1979 through 1984, until he was traded to the New York Yankees.
The Yankees shipped Henderson back to Oakland in the middle of 1989. (Oakland has surprisingly lost the ’88 World Series to the L.A. Dodgers.) Once Henderson joined the A’s he took off, stealing 52 bases with 72 runs scored.
Henderson’s impact and skills were on full display
during the postseason. He was named MVP in the American League Championship Series
after hitting .400, with two home runs, 5 RBIs, 8 runs scored, and 8 steals in
5 games. He was also a key weapon in the A’s offense in the World Series, batting
.474 and stealing three bases in the four-game sweep of the San Francisco
Honorable mention: Hunter Pence finds a home and success with the Giants
Hunter Pence was acquired by the Giants from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 31, 2012. While he only batted .219 in the regular season, he hit .286 in the World Series as the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers. He became a positive source of energy in the clubhouse, and was endeared by the fans.
Pence also gave an impassioned pre-game speech to
his teammates as they were facing elimination in National League Division
Series. After that pep talk, the Giants came back from an 0-2 series deficit
against the Reds, and defeated the reigning champion Cardinals in the National
League Championship Series on their way to their second World Series title in three
Resources: Baseball-reference.com/draft/index.fcgi?year_ID=1976&round=4&draft_type=junreg; gd2.mlb.com/content/game/mlb/year_2017/month_10/day_31/gid_2017_10_31_houmlb_lanmlb_1/boxscore_col.html; gd2.mlb.com/content/game/mlb/year_2017/month_10/day_25/gid_2017_10_25_houmlb_lanmlb_1/boxscore_col.html; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Verlander; baseball-reference.com/players/p/pencehu01.shtml; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Pearce_(baseball)