5 of the Most Significant Trades in New York Yankees History

Over the course of its 116-year history, the New York Yankees have won 27 World Championships due to the contributions of legendary players such as Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, and Derek Jeter. While the team has successfully drafted and developed its own stars (Jeter, Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte, to name a few), it has also acquired several via free agency or trade. Here are five of the biggest trades in Yankees history:

1. Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox (1919)

A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who is ranked third highest in all-time home runs (714), Babe Ruth played 15 seasons with the New York Yankees before his final season with the Boston Braves in 1935. Known as The Sultan of Swat and The Colossus of Clout, Ruth is synonymous with the Yankees, but he actually began his career with one of the team’s longtime rivals: the Boston Red Sox.

Babe Ruth

Ruth made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 1914 and played six years with the Red Sox. During this time, he hit a combined 49 home runs and 224 RBIs to go along with a .308 batting average. He also pitched 158 games for the Red Sox and compiled a win-loss record of 89-46 with an earned run average (ERA) of 2.19. Despite his pitching abilities, it was his league-leading 29 home runs in 1919 that attracted the Yankees. At the end of that season, Ruth was dealt to New York for $100,000.

Although Ruth seldom pitched for the Yankees, he led the league in home runs in each of his first two seasons with the team with 54 and 59, respectively. He led the league in that regard another eight times over the course of his tenure with New York. He also led all players in walks and on-base percentage 11 and 10 times, respectively. He won four World Series with the Yankees and was named the American League Most Valuable Player (AL MVP) in 1923.

2. Roger Maris from the Kansas City Athletics (1959)

The Yankees won the World Series in 1961 and 1962, and Roger Maris was a major contributor to the team’s success in both of those years. After he achieved the AL MVP during his first year with the team in 1960, Maris hit a league-best 61 home runs and 141 RBIs the following season for a repeat as AL MVP. He hit a combined 33 home runs and 100 RBIs in 1962. Maris played seven years with the Yankees and compiled 203 home runs, 547 RBIs, and a .265 batting average.

The Yankees acquired Maris from the Kansas City Athletics, along with Joe DeMaestri and Kent Hadley, in exchange for Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, Norm Siebern, and Marv Thorneberry on December 11, 1959. His career-best mark in home runs and RBIs prior to joining the Yankees was 28 and 80, respectively.

3. Roger Clemens from the Toronto Blue Jays (1999)

Roger Clemens is an 11-time All-Star pitcher who had played 15 seasons in the MLB and was 36 years old when he joined the Yankees. Nonetheless, the former first-round draft pick received his sixth Cy Young with New York and compiled a 77-36 record to go along with a 3.99 ERA through 157 starts over the course of five seasons with the team. He secured the National League Cy Young Award in back-to-back seasons with the Blue Jays prior to the trade for the Yankees’ David Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and Homer Bush.

Roger Clemons
Image by Carsten | Flickr

Clemens also won a World Series with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000 and achieved a combined 7-4 record in the playoffs during his initial tenure with the team. He left the Yankees for a three-year tour in the National League with the Houston Astros and returned to New York in 2007.

4. Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers (2004)

A 14-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP, Alex Rodriguez spent the final 12 years of his 22-year career with the Yankees following his acquisition from the Texas Rangers in 2004. In exchange for Rodriguez, New York sent Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias to Texas. Coming off his first MVP, Rodriguez hit 36 home runs and 106 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees. He achieved MVP status in two of the next three seasons and registered his career-best 156 RBIs in 2007. He also won a World Series with the team in 2009 and hit 30 home runs that year.

5. Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins (2017)

One of New York’s top players is 29-year-old Giancarlo Stanton. Selected by the Florida Marlins in the second round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, Stanton spent his first eight seasons with the National League team and was named NL MVP in 2017 after he hit a league-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBIs. In the following off-season, the Marlins sent Stanton to New York in return for Starlin Castro and Minor League prospects Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman. Stanton led all New York players in home runs (38) and RBIs (100) in his first season with the team.