The 21st century’s 10 most impactful MLB trade deadline deals to date

Jul 30, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader
Josh Hader. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

8. A haul for Milwaukee

Emerging from a total rebuild, the 2015 Houston Astros were poised to make their first serious playoff run in a decade. After averaging 104 losses for the previous four seasons, the Astros led the Angels by two games at the 2015 trade deadline.

They had a sterling lineup of young talent, including Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer. What they needed was experienced pitching. They saw it in Milwaukee, a last place team in the NL Central and hungry to trade veterans for prospects.

That scenario set the stage for one of the most interesting “present-for-future” deals ever consummated.

The Astros got the pitching help they needed in the person of Mike Fiers. Starting nine games, he was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

Houston also got offensive help in Carlos Gomez, who plugged an outfield hole. Gomez played in six post-season games, but the Astros were ousted by the Royals.

The Brewers did OK, too … maybe more than OK. The cost of obtaining Gomez and Fiers turned out to be four-fold: a minor league reliever named Josh Hader, a minor league starter named Adrian Houser, and position players Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana.

The big catch, of course, was Hader, who became the National League’s most feared reliever and just this week was the centerpiece of a trade that sent him from the Brewers to San Diego. With Milwaukee, he accumulated 125 saves.

Houser has never gotten Hader’s headlines, but he has become a competent rotation piece. Since his 2015 debut, he’s averaged a dozen starts with a 3.92 ERA. His best season was 2021, 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA.

The math: Fiers and Gomez, +0.2 WAR for Houston; Hader, Houser, Santana and Phillips, +18.7 WAR for Milwaukee. Net impact: +18.9 WAR.