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Red Sox's all-time Top 5 in-season trades

Red Sox's all-time Top 5 in-season trades

Red Sox's all-time Top 5 in-season trades

Will the Red Sox swing a deal before the July 31 Trade Deadline? Sometimes it takes years to determine how well a team did in a trade. With the benefit of hindsight, the following are the five most notable trades in franchise history that were conducted during the regular season, according to beat writer Ian Browne. Agree? Disagree? Comment below:

No. 1: July 31, 1997: Red Sox receive catcher Jason Varitek, right-hander Derek Lowe from Mariners for right-hander Heathcliff Slocumb.

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Top in-season deals

When you consider Varitek went on to become one of the most respected leaders in Red Sox history and Lowe came through with several big moments in the postseason, it's hard to imagine general manager Dan Duquette was able to pull this deal off. But at the time, Lowe and Varitek were just prospects, and Slocumb was the veteran closer the Mariners needed.

This goes down as one of the most lopsided trades in history. Varitek went on to spend his entire Major League career in a Red Sox uniform, helping the club to a pair of World Series championships. Lowe was around for the first World Series parade in 2004, but he had several solid seasons in Boston, some as a reliever and others as a starter.

No. 2: July 31, 2004: Red Sox receive shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Expos, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz from Twins while sending shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and outfielder Matt Murton to the Cubs.

There was a time when Garciaparra was an icon in Boston, lifting the team on his back at times en route to a couple of batting titles and several postseason appearances. But by the summer of 2004, Garciaparra's range was limited by an Achilles injury and his contract was a couple of months from expiring. General manager Theo Epstein made one of the boldest moves in team history, dealing Garciaparra in a four-team swap that brought the team two players known mostly for their defense in Cabrera and Mientkiewicz.

The trade turned out to be just what the Red Sox needed for the stretch run in 2004. Cabrera energized the clubhouse, gave the lineup a lift and cemented the defense in the middle of the infield. Mientkiewicz lived up to his role as a defensive stopper who could replace Kevin Millar in the late innings. Though Cabrera and Mientkiewicz both departed by the time the '05 season started, their impact in club history is permanent. For a reminder, look at the '04 championship flag.

No. 3: Aug. 25, 2012: Red Sox receive right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, right-hander Allen Webster, first baseman James Loney, outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan DeJesus from the Dodgers for first bseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, right-hander Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto.

In perhaps the most stunning waiver trade in history, the Red Sox unloaded more than $250 million in salary obligations in this blockbuster deal with the Dodgers. Beckett's time had clearly run its course in Boston while Crawford was shaping up as one of the bigger free-agent busts in history. Gonzalez was a solid offensive player during his season-plus with the Red Sox, but he wasn't a great fit for the market.

Thanks to some of the financial flexibility they created with the deal, the Red Sox added Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster last winter and have spent much of the first half of 2013 in first place. Many baseball insiders were shocked that the Red Sox were not only able to unload so much salary in the deal with the Dodgers, but they also added a couple of highly-regarded pitching prospects in Webster and De La Rosa.

No. 4: July 31, 2008: Red Sox receive outfielder Jason Bay from Pirates, send outfielder Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers while also sending right-hander Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss to Pirates.

Manny being Manny didn't seem so cute to the Red Sox or their fans by midsummer in 2008. Ramirez's behavior seemed to be getting more petulant by the month. He slugged teammate Kevin Youkilis in the dugout during a game. A few weeks later, he decked traveling secretary Jack McCormick during a clubhouse feud. Ramirez was also coming up with hamstring maladies that the Red Sox questioned.

Much like with trade of Garciaparra four years earlier, Epstein made another bold move, getting a well-respected slugger in Bay. Almost from the moment he arrived in Boston, Bay became a fan favorite. He also swung a hot bat, helping the Red Sox get to Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series. This trade might have ranked higher on Boston's list had Bay not left as a free agent after the '09 season.

No. 5: Aug. 19, 1986: Red Sox receive outfielder Dave Henderson and shortstop Spike Owen from Mariners for shortstop Rey Quinones, right-hander Mike Brown, right-hander Mike Trujillo and outfielder John Christensen.

Though the Red Sox spent nearly all of the 1986 season in first place, they needed some fine-tuning for the final push. General manager Lou Gorman gave it to them by adding a center fielder (Henderson) and a shortstop (Owen) while not giving up anything big in return.

Owen solidified the infield defense much like Cabrera would do 18 years later. He also came up with some important hits. Henderson went on to hit one of the biggest home runs in postseason history in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS against the Angels, fueling the Red Sox back from a 3-1 series deficit. He did it again in Game 6 of the World Series and probably would have had a statue in Boston if not for Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, Rich Gedman and Bill Buckner falling apart as the Mets came back to win Games 6 and 7.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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