So Justin Upton was traded to the Atlanta Braves. How this will affect the Diamondbacks in the coming years remains to be seen, but it is not the first nor the last trade that can be defined as "big" in the history of the franchise. Let's walk down memory lane and see what wheelings and dealings have occurred....
December 28th, 1998. Diamondbacks acquire Luis Gonzalez from the Detroit Tigers for Karim Garcia
/takes a deep breath
July 26th, 2000. Diamondbacks acquire Curt Schilling from the Philadelphia Phillies for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, and Vicente Padilla
This was your standard "throw a bunch of prospects and other pieces into a deal to get one guy" kind of deal. As memory serves, it was supposed to propel the D'Backs into the playoffs in 2000. In that short term, it didn't work out that way, as the team struggled down the stretch that year to finish third. However, with Travis Lee gone, there was a hole at first base which lead to the signing of Mark Grace. He and Schilling would help us to that World Series win in 2001 that you might have heard about.
As for the pieces we sent over? Daal spent the following three seasons with three different teams and retired in 2003. Figueroa has somehow found his way back to the D'Backs this spring after a few major league stops through the years. Lee put up middling numbers for two seasons in Philly, and never really lived up to his prospect-based hype coming into the inception of the Diamondbacks. He was displaced by Jim Thome in 2003 and was out of professional Baseball after 2006. Padilla is still chugging along a major league career, somehow. None of these players were on the Phillies' roster when they returned to the postseason in 2007
I guess the lesson from this two trade sample size is this: Do not trade Curt Schilling, you will get nothing in return! Fossum was, by all accounts, a bust with the D'Backs, putting up a 6.65 ERA in 2004, his only season on the team. Lyon was briefly a closer in the late Josh Byrnes era, but wasn't anything to write home about. George of the rose never played an inning for the Diamondbacks because....
December 1st, 2003. Diamondbacks acquire Richie Sexson and Shane Nance from the Milwaukee Brewers for Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano, and Jorge De la Rosa
The second that Sexson went down with an injury this trade turned very sour. He decided to not re-sign with the Diamondbacks and took his talents to Seattle. Capuano, Overbay and Counsell were contributed to the Brewers for many years aftewards. This may have been the straw that broke the camel of Joe Jr's time as GM's back.
Basically, the lesson learned from this trade is: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SIGN PRADO TO AN EXTENSION PLZ?
January 11th, 2005. Diamondbacks acquire Javier Vasquez, Brad Halsey, and Dioner Navarro from the New York Yankees for Randy Johnson
Another icon from the 2001 season gone, but in the long run this wasn't so bad for the Diamondbacks. Vasquez didn't want to play on the west coast for some reason (probably because he's weird), and wanted out, so we were able to turn him into Chris Young, so that worked out. Halsey suffered from "inflated Yankee prospect syndrome" and never really panned out. Navarro never played for the D'Backs as he was flipped to the Dodgers for Shawn Green the very same day (a trade I won't go into too much detail about since it didn't seem to affect our long term prospects too much).
December 27th, 2005. Diamondbacks acquire Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista from the Toronto Blue Jays for Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos
The O-Dog, as he is known, gave us a few good years in Arizona during pennant runs (though he seemed to always get injured during the stretch run. I'm not saying anything is suspicious but #illuminati.) Glaus wound down his career in Toronto, St. Louis and Atlanta and was never as big a contributor as when he was in Anaheim. Santos broke into the majors in 2010 with the White Sox and had an injury shortened season with Toronto last year.
December 3rd, 2007. Diamondbacks acquire Chris Carter from the Chicago White Sox for Carlos Quentin
December 14th, 2007. Diamondbacks acquire Chris Burke, Juan Gutierrez, and Chad Qualls from the Houston Astros for Jose Valverde.
I'm going to paint a picture for you. Imagine you're walking through a magical forest filled with gumdrop trees and roads made of the softest clouds, and look, there's Scarlett Johansson, and she wants to talk to you about Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy and everything is okay, and then you take a wrong turn and OH SHIT HOW DID WE STUMBLE INTO A REAL LIFE SEASON OF THE WIRE?
That's basically this trade in a nutshell.
December 14th, 2007. Diamondbacks acquire Dan Haren and Conor Robertson from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Aaron Cunningham, Chris Carter, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith
Look, nobody liked Haren on the Diamondbacks as much as I did, but looking back on this... it may have been better to not do this deal (if only for Anderson and Gonzalez), but it happened. Josh Byrnes acquired Haren to propel the 2007 NLCS team to further heights. As you might recall, it didn't work out that way, as the 2007 season is now seen by some as a fluke. Couple that with the Brandon Webb
fishing injury, and the D'Backs did not have much of a rotation beyond Haren for a few seasons (Hello Billy Buckner!). He was caught in the wrong window, as it were.
December 8th, 2009. Three team extravaganza! Diamondbacks receive Ian Kennedy from the New York Yankees and Edwin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers. Send Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlareth to the Tigers.
This trade is often cited as one that "helped every team". It's hard to argue with that. Kennedy has been the de facto ace of the pitching staff since 2011, and Jackson was able to throw a no-hitter (albiet a very bad one) for the D'Backs, and then was traded to the White Sox for Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg. Kennedy and Hudson helped the D'Backs to a playoff appearance in 2011, as you may recall. The Tigers were able to use Austin Jackson and Scherzer to propel them to the ALCS in 2011 and a World Series appearance in 2012. The Yankees were able to turn Curtis Granderson into one of the few Yankees I like. So everyone wins!
July 25th, 2010. Diamondbacks acquire Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Rafael Rodriguez from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Dan Haren.
And here is the poster child for the "Let's wait to see how this plays out" school of thought when it comes to trades. The trade was almost universally reviled around these parts when it went down (I remember it well, I was there, man), but with the rise of Skaggs and Corbin as pitching prospects, and Joe Saunders being solid-if-not-spectacular, the sting has worn off a bit (as well as Haren's possibly injury hoodoo).
December 6th, 2010. Diamondbacks acquire David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio from the Baltimore Orioles for Mark Reynolds and John Hester
Another trade that looks better in hindsight. Hernandez has arguably been the best arm in the bullpen for the past two seasons, and Mark Reynolds may or may not be blind. While the Kra-Kam never amounted to anything for the D'Backs and is currently in Japan, it still worked out well.
July 31st, 1998. Diamondbacks acquire Bernard Gilkey and Nelson Figeroa from the New York Mets for Jorge Fabregas and Willie Blair.
I just wanted to defer this one to the end of the post.
I'm going to end on that trade, since quite a few "big" moves still have time to simmer and be judged as to their quality (Parker-Cahill and the whole Bauer extravaganza come to mind here). How will history view the Upton trade? Hard to say. One can obviously have legitimate arguments about the process that goes with it, but in the end, results seem to be all that matter in the long run. Time will tell.