Throughout July, we're going to present 30 deals in 30 days: the best trade deadline deal ever made by each team. We've covered the AL East and NL East so far and are now on the AL Central.
THE TEAM: Cleveland Indians
THE YEAR: 2002
THE SITUATION: The Indians made the playoffs six out of seven years between 1995 and 2001 but were poised to enter a rebuilding phase. Prior to the 2002 season, they traded second baseman Roberto Alomar, hinting that there may be more moves to come. The Montreal Expos were in contention by the end of June and faced potential retraction in the very near future. The theory was, if the team would soon cease to exist anyway, why not bet the farm and try to win now?
THE TRADE: Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew were traded to the Expos for Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens, who was tossed into the deal to help Montreal avoid a payroll increase. The other three were promising prospects that would restock an Indians farm system that was considered one of the worst in baseball.
THE AFTERMATH: The Indians have made a number of good trades over the years, dating back to 1910 when they acquired Shoeless Joe Jackson for next to nothing. The only bad part about the Colon deal for the Indians is that they inexplicably gave up on Phillips and sent him to the Cincinnati Reds for next to nothing. Phillips, Lee and Sizemore all became stars though. Lee won the Cy Young Award before he was traded to Philadelphia in 2009 in a move that didn't net anywhere close to the return of the Colon deal. Sizemore was one of the team's most popular players before injuries caught up with him a couple of years ago. The Expos eventually finished just four games above .500 in 2002, 19 games behind the first-place Braves. In January 2003, they traded Colon to the White Sox and after the 2004 season left Montreal to become the Washington Nationals.
-- Stephanie Liscio, It's Pronounced Lajaway