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The Best And Worst Trades Of The Past Decade

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With the Albert Haynesworth era appearing to be near its end, we take a look back at some of the best and worst trades of the past decade in D.C. sports.

Albert Haynesworth's trade demands are beginning to bring a close to a sad, disappointing era of Redskins football, but it also gives the Redskins an opportunity. Every trade gives a team a chance to get better or worse, and though it looks like Washington will have to give away Haynesworth for cents on the dollar, sometimes those cents can prove to have more value than it may appear. Then again, sometimes they're worth even less.

Over the last 10 years, Washington teams have been involved plenty of trades, some better than others, that have helped and hindered Washington franchises. Let's take a look back at some of the highs and lows.

The Worst Trades of the Decade

James Thrash for fifth-round pick (Trent Cole)

Although the Redskins paid a fair price for the versatile wide receiver and special teamer, I think they may have reconsidered if they had known the pick they dealt to Philadelphia would record 47 sacks and play in two Pro Bowls in his first five seasons in the NFL. Imagine grouping Cole with Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo this season. Jim Haslett would be a very, very giddy man right now.

Jerry Stackhouse, Brian Cardinal and Ratko Varda for Richard Hamilton, Hubert Davis and Bobby Simmons
This trade ultimately boiled down to trading the future (Richard Hamilton) for a better shot at the present (Jerry Stackhouse, a two-time All-Star). Problem was, the Wizards weren't a team that was built to contend when Stackhouse was brought to Washington. Even with another bona fide scorer to go along with Michael Jordan, the team still only managed to go 37-45 in 2002-03 season. 

Meanwhile, Richard Hamilton went on to become a three-time All-Star in Detroit, teaming up with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace, two other former players from Washington who went on to find greener pastures in Detroit, where they won a championship together in 2004.

Alfonso Soriano for Brad Wilkerson, Termell Sledge and a minor league pitcher

This trade, more than any other, exemplified the short-sightedness of the Jim Bowden era. Soriano played brilliantly during Washington, becoming the first player in MLB history with 40 home runs, 40 stolen bases and 20 outfield assists in the same season. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the team went on to finish 71-91 in Soriano's first season in Washington.

The Nationals simply did not have adequate talent to capitalize on Soriano's presence, and before they knew it, he was gone. Soriano was a free agent at the end of the 2006 season and went on to sign with the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals were not left completely barren, receiving a supplemental first-round draft pick to compensate for Soriano's loss. The Nationals went on to use that pick on Josh Smoker, who is currently 0-7 with a 7.09 ERA on the Nationals' Single-A team, the Hagerstown Suns.

Oh, and that minor league pitcher the Nationals included in the Soriano deal? Armando Galarraga.

[Ed. note: One minor correction to make -- The Nationals received two first-round picks when Soriano signed with the Cubs. The other pick tunred out to be Jordan Zimmermann who played well before undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. If he can return to his pre-surgery form, the trade isn't as bad, but I'm still not a fan. The Nationals gave up Armando Gallaraga, who has done quite well for himself. More importantly, Soriano helped the team get more wins, which only hurt the Nationals draft position and slowed down their development. -Jake]

Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew for Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee

Technically, this trade did not involve a Washington team, but it had a profound effect on the future of the team Washington inherited when the Expos moved from Montreal.

The Expos gave up the farm at the 2002 trade deadline to acquire Colon from Cleveland, giving up Cliff Lee (a future Cy Young winner), Grady Sizemore (a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger award winner in 2008) and Brandon Phillips (a Gold Glove Award winner in 2008) for 17 appearances from Colon, who pitched well, but failed to help the Expos make the playoffs. After the season, Colon was traded to the White Sox for Rocky Biddle, Orlando Hernandez and Jeff Liefer, a far inferior package to the one Montreal gave up to acquire Colon in the first place.

I suppose in the end it all worked out, because if the Nationals had Lee, Sizemore and Phillips in the stable, they never would have been bad enough to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but the trade certainly led to years of unnecessary agony.

The Best Trades of the Decade

Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit

This deal might not only be the best trade in the history of D.C. sports, it might be one of the best heists in sports history. The Lakers took the gamble that Kwame Brown would pan out in the bright lights of Hollywood and got burned. As it turned out, Caron Butler would be the one who blossomed in a new environment, becoming a two-time All-Star in Washington and helping the Wizards to three playoff appearances. During his 4.5 years in Washington, he never averaged less than 16 points per game.

Kwame, on the other hand has only had 11 games where he has scored at least 16 points since he was dealt away from Washington.

Third round pick in 2004 NFL Draft (Chris Cooley) for fifth round pick in 2004 Draft (Rodney Leisle) and second round pick in 2005 Draft (Josh Bullocks)

The Redskins certainly took a risk when they gave up a second round pick in 2005 and a fifth round pick in exchange for a third round pick in the 2004 draft, but the Redskins were rewarded for their faith in the H-back out of Utah State. Chris Cooley quickly became one of the Redskins’ most reliable receiving threats, not to mention a fan favorite.

Josh Bullocks? Six career interceptions. Rodney Leisle? One career start. I think the Redskins did alright on this one.

Antawn Jamison for No. 5 pick (Devin Harris), Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner

Sure, the Wizards could have used the No. 5 pick in the 2004 draft to pick up some solid players, such as Andre Iguodala, Devin Harris, Luol Deng or Josh Childress. Instead, they picked up a player who wound up being the bedrock of four straight playoff appearances for the Wizards. Antawn Jamison proved to be the perfect compliment for Gilbert Arenas and gave the locker room the maturity the team needed to balance the goofier players on the team.

Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey and a second round pick (Tatum Bell).

In the era of free agency, it’s rare to see two players in their prime dealt for each other. It’s even rarer to see a trade result in a positive outcome for both parties, but that’s exactly what happened when Washington sent Champ Bailey and their second round pick in order to acquire Clinton Portis.

Bailey gave the Broncos a franchise cornerback in exchange for a premiere player at a position Denver never had a problem filling during the Shanahan era. In return, Joe Gibbs got the running back he needed to build his offense around and the defense still managed to finish in the top 10 six of the seven years since Bailey has left. Although neither player helped their team reached the ultimate goal, both teams wound up better for their transaction.

Getting better by getting worse
  • Jaromir Jagr for Anson Carter
  • Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood for Josh Howard, James Singleton, Quinton Ross and Drew Gooden
  • Antawn Jamison sent to Cleveland in a three-team team to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Al Thornton

All three of these trades made Washington worse teams on paper. All-Star players were shipped out of Washington for close to nothing. None of these trades brought back All-Star talent in return and only one brought back a semblance of a prospect. Jaromir Jagr was traded for pennies on the pennies with which he was brought to Washington. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were both swapped to clear cap space after the Arenas-Butler-Jamison era came to an unspectacular end.

So why are these deals considered good trades for Washington? Because these three trades sped up the rebuilding process for the Capitals and Wizards. The Capitals went 9-18-5-1 after dealing Jagr, finishing with the third-worst record in the league. Likewise, the Wizards dropped 23 of their final 32 games, ending up with the fifth worst record in the NBA. As a result of their late-season freefalls, both teams were in perfect position to win the draft lottery. The Capitals wound up with Alexander Ovechkin and the Wizards appear to be ready to draft John Wall with the top pick in the NBA Draft next Thursday.

Would you trade Jaromir Jagr for Alexander Ovechkin? Would you trade Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison for John Wall? Sounds like two great trades to me.