The offseason. A vast wasteland of stray rumors and sports with clocks. I hope you enjoy making snap judgements on deals that we shouldn't really judge for another year or five. I know I do. It's all we'll have.
To prepare for the offseason wasteland, I spent the night screwing around with the trade partners tool on Baseball-Reference.com. The goal was simple: Find the most active and least active teams on the trade market since the start of 2003. The GMs, owners, managers, and players might all be different, but let's still take a look at a decade of activity and inactivity.
Most active traders, 2003 - present
That would be the World Champion Boston Red Sox, who have made 150 trades since January 1, 2003. That's 12 more than the second-place team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Red Sox haven't traded with the Brewers, Rays, and Yankees over the last decade, but they made up for it with 10 trades with the Cubs, 11 with the Indians, and 13 each with the Pirates and Padres.
Note that this raw total includes deals like Adam Hyzdu to the Padres for Blaine Neal (March, 2005) and Scott Cassidy to the Padres for Adam Hyzdu (July, 2005). So not everything is Adrian Gonzalez for a million prospects.
Least active traders, 2003-present
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have made just 45 trades in the last decade. I guess that's still … carry the four … 4.5 trades per season, so they aren't exactly absent from the trade market. But they've made fewer trades with the other 29 teams in the last decade than the Red Sox have made with just the Cubs, Indians, Pirates, and Padres.
Also, if you figure that Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli is the worst trade of the decade, you can take the raw number of trades, divide it by awful and get some kind of awful-per-trade metric that soars to the top of the charts like Mike Trout's WAR.
Over the last year, the Angels have made the following trades:
- Ervin Santana to the Royals
- Jordan Walden to the Braves
- Kendrys Morales to the Mariners
- Vernon Wells to the Yankees
- Steve Geltz to the Rays
- Chris Snyder to the Orioles
- Kyle Johnson to the Mets
- Scott Downs to the Braves
- Alberto Callaspo to the A's
Nine trades, with most of the substantial contributors to a 25-man roster in 2013 going the other way. So if it doesn't feel like the Angels are trade-shy, that's why. But they've been slower to deal over the last 10 years than any other team in the league.
Every team has made at least one deal with each of the other 29 teams at some point in baseball history. The last holdout, Rays/Rangers, ended in March, 2012 with the infamous future-considerations-for-Kyle-Hudson swap. Here's a quick tally of some trade-partner facts.
Most trades between two teams
The A's and Blue Jays have made 15 trades since 2003, an average of 1.5 trades every year. Who will ever forget deals like Casper Wells for money, Jesse Chavez for money, Trystan Magnuson for money, Curtis Thigpen for money, and Kevin Melillo for money? Baseball was never the same after those deals. I'm guessing there's one sock filled with nickels that gets passed around, and whenever one team has a roster crunch, they call the other team and ask for the sack of nickels back.
Really, it's a long list of mostly inconsequential deals. The biggest deal in real-life impact was Marco Scutaro to the Jays for Graham Godfrey and a minor leaguer who never made it. The biggest trade at the time was Brett Wallace for Michael Taylor.
Pirates/Red Sox - 13
Padres/Red Sox - 13
Rangers/Cubs - 12
Indians/Pirates - 12
Mariners/Padres - 12
A's/Padres - 11
Indians/Red Sox - 11
Red Sox/Cubs - 10
Orioles/Cubs - 10
Most trades between two teams (intra-divisional category)
Two sets of trade partners are tied here, with the Cubs/Reds and White Sox/Royals each combining for seven trades over the last decade. I guess there's a feeling of eh-screw-it when you get to a certain point, where the short- and long-term goals are so profoundly different that it doesn't make sense to be picky.
The freakiest deal in the Reds/Cubs ledger is Josh Hamilton to the Reds for cash after the Rule 5 draft, but most of them are pretty insubstantial. The biggest swap between the White Sox and Royals was Josh Fields and Chris Getz to Kansas City for Mark Teahen, which was kind of a big deal at the time.
Longest gap between two teams trading
The Yankees and Red Sox made a deal in 1997. It's been a while since the Dodgers and Rangers made a trade, with the last one being Jim Poole for two minor leaguers in 1990.
But nothing compares to the time that's elapsed between the last Astros and Angels trade. In 1981, a week before Opening Day, the Angels sent Dickie Thon to the Astros for Ken Forsch. It was a fascinating trade on several levels, with Thon being a hotshot prospect and Forsch one of the more reliable pitchers in the league. Both players would make an All-Star team within two years. But Forsch succumbed to age and injuries, and Thon enjoyed an award-winning career, but it was the wrong kind of award.
The Astros and Angels are in the same division now, which makes another trade even less likely. Unless this kind of no-prisoners journalism shines the ugly light of truth on them. C'mon, Angels and Astros. Figure something out.
The full list of trade totals since 2003 for each team. Traders!