Over the next month, we're going to present 30 deals in 30 days: the best trade deadline deal ever made for each team.
THE TEAM: New York Yankees
THE YEAR: 1995
THE SITUATION: The Yankees owned the best record at the time of the players' strike in 1994 that wiped out the season, so they entered 1995 having gone 13 seasons since last making the playoffs, in 1981. For George Steinbrenner, who had returned in 1993 after a two-year banishment from baseball, that was 13 seasons too many.
But 1995 did not start well for the Yankees, and after losing on July 28, they were 41-42 -- in third place in the AL East, 5.5 games behind Boston. The rotation featured veteran Jack McDowell, rookie Andy Pettitte and Sterling Hitchcock, but the back of the rotation was struggling. Another rookie named Mariano Rivera had made eight starts but had a 5.40 ERA (although an 11-strikeout win on July 4 over the White Sox showed his potential). General manager Gene Michael knew he had to upgrade the rotation.
THE TRADE: David Cone had won the 1994 Cy Young Award with the Royals, but they had traded him to Toronto in April for Chris Stynes, David Sinnes and Tony Medrano (a deal that didn't work out for the Royals). But the Blue Jays, just two years removed from a World Series title, were old and horrible and by late July were looking to trade Cone, an impending free agent. The Yankees gave them minor leaguers Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon. Janzen was the best prospect in the deal, a right-handed pitcher who would post a 2.87 ERA with 164 strikeouts in 181.2 innings.
THE AFTERMATH: None of the prospects developed (Janzen would make only 11 major league starts), but Cone started the day after the trade and pitched eight innings in a 4-2 victory over the Twins. He would go 9-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 13 starts for the Yankees and they would go 38-23 after the deal. They didn't catch the Red Sox but clinched the wild card on the final day of the season with their 11th win in 12 games. Cone would end up blowing a lead late in the epic Game 5 playoff loss to the Mariners, but the Yankees would re-sign him and embark on a journey of four World Series titles in five years. Meanwhile, young Mr. Rivera would make only two more starts, one in August and in one September, as he found a new role in the bullpen. Word is that worked out pretty nicely as well.