The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most historic franchises in American sports. This team has had quite the history, bringing in Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier while dominating the '50s and '60s with superstar pitcher Sandy Koufax. This team has always been a joy to watch and they have an incredible history that lives on in baseball lore.
The Dodgers haven't won a World Series championship since 1988, and a big reason for that is because they made some terrible trades and wasted money on porous contracts. On the other hand, this franchise has enjoyed plenty of success because of the big trades and free agent signings they've made over the years.
Like every team, the Dodgers made some great moves that changed the franchise for the better. They also made some moves that hurt the franchise for a long time. Here's a look at the eight best and seven worst moves in L.A. Dodgers history.
15 Best: Trading for Andre Ethier
The Oakland Athletics traded Andre Ethier to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. Bradley was a quality contact hitter and the trade seemed like a win-win for both sides at the time, only the Athletics got ripped off in this. The Dodgers found themselves a franchise outfielder in Ethier, who has been key to this team's perennial dominance of the 2010s.
Ethier is a two-time All-Star and has a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award to his name. He's batted .285 in his career and has helped the Dodgers win the NL West every year since 2013. Though the Dodgers have yet to win the World Series, they're as close as it gets. Ethier has been a big part of their success.
14 Worst: Trading Away Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko played on the Dodgers for parts of the 1997 and 1998 seasons, but failed to produce much and didn't look like he was going to become a superstar...at least in Los Angeles. He played in just 52 games over those two years and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Jeff Shaw.
Shaw was a solid closer in Los Angeles, but he was out of the majors by 2001. Meanwhile, Konerko became one of baseball's most feared hitters -- crushing 439 home runs in his career while being named to six All-Star Games. Konerko guided the Chicago White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005 -- hitting 40 home runs and 100 RBI.
The Dodgers really could have terrorized opponents with a lineup that consisted of Mike Piazza, Adrian Beltre, Raul Mondesi and Konerko. But who's checking anyway?
13 Best: Acquiring Tim Belcher
Tim Belcher had an up-and-down major league career that lasted from 1987 to 2000. He posted a mere 146-140 record with a 4.16 ERA and played for seven different teams in his career. Though Belcher isn't someone you would have called a Hall of Famer, he became a crucial component of the Dodgers' 1988 World Series-winning team.
Los Angeles acquired him from the Oakland Athletics (when he was in the minors) for Rick Honeycutt. In 1988 (the Dodgers championship season), Belcher went 15-12 with a 2.91 ERA and 152 strikeouts. Belcher would spend five seasons with the Dodgers, and had an ERA under three in four of them.
The Dodgers really didn't have to give up a whole lot to add a quality pitcher that led them to a championship. Easily one of the most overlooked moves in MLB history.
12 Worst: Letting Adrian Beltre Walk
Andrian Beltre has put up a marvelous career that is sure to get him into the Baseball Hall of Fame one day. He's crushed 445 home runs and 1,571 RBI. Along with that, he's a four-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time Silver Slugger Award champion. He's hands-down one of the best third basemen the baseball world has ever witnessed.
Beltre had an incredible season in 2004, leading the majors with 48 home runs and registering 200 hits. He was second in NL MVP voting, but it wasn't enough for the Dodgers to keep him in Los Angeles. The Seattle Mariners signed Beltre to a five-year deal worth $64 million.
Franchise third basemen don't come around often, and if the Dodgers were willing to take on Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett's contracts in a blockbuster trade with Boston, they could have shelled out the money to keep Beltre.
11 Best: Trading for Tim Leary
At first glance, Tim Leary's career was anything but memorable. He played for seven teams in a 14-year career and posted a porous 78-105 record with a 4.36 ERA. Leary's career appeared to be going nowhere after frustrating performances with the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. Before the 1987 season, Leary and Tim Crews were shipped to the Dodgers in exchange for Greg Brock.
After a disappointing 1987 campaign, Leary broke out in 1988 with a 17-11 record, 2.91 ERA and 180 strikeouts. Leary also appeared in four games during the Dodgers' 1988 postseason run, fanning seven batters in just 10 innings pitched.
Leary then went to the Cincinnati Reds a year later, but not before having a great season that catapulted Los Angeles to a World Series championship.
10 Worst: Signing Juan Pierre
Juan Pierre was one of baseball's flashiest leadoff men. A career .295 hitter, Pierre stole 614 bases during his 14-year career. He led the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003 and was undoubtedly a franchise player to build around.
After the 2006 season, the Dodgers signed Pierre to a five-year contract worth $44 million. But the Dodgers would regret not getting a receipt with that transaction, as Pierre struggled with consistency. Though his batting average and stolen base totals were around his regular numbers, Pierre's defensive play was a problem.
His WAR over his three seasons with the Dodgers (from 2007 to 2009) was 0.7, -0.2 and 1.1. Pierre's OPS and OBP were also well-below his career averages. Definitely not a signing the Dodgers came to embrace.
9 Best: Signing Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown was one of baseball's best pitchers in the '90s and early 2000s. He won 211 games and posted a 3.28 ERA with 2,397 strikeouts. The six-time All-Star was a two-time NL ERA leader and won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997. Brown became the first-ever $100 million man in MLB history, signing a seven-year contract worth $105 million.
Though some people have a bad taste of this contract in their mouths, Brown performed well in a Dodgers uniform. In four of his five seasons in Los Angeles, Brown won double-digit games and his ERA was below 3.00 in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Brown also registered 200-plus strikeouts in his first two seasons with Los Angeles.
The Dodgers had to pay a lot of money to get an ace, but Brown earned every penny.
8 Worst: Trading Away Ron Cey
Ron Cey was a star third basemen on the Dodgers from 1971 to 1982. A career .261 hitter, Cey belted 316 home runs during his career and was the 1981 World Series MVP after the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic. Cey was a six-time All-Star and batted .270 or better in five full seasons with the Dodgers.
However, the Dodgers were worried that Cey was nearing the end of his prime, so they traded him to the Chicago Cubs for two minor league players. Cey was far from finished, guiding the Cubs to a NL East Division title in 1984. That year, he hit 25 home runs and registered 97 RBI.
The Dodgers could have definitely used more of that production in the '80s, but they gave up on him for no reason.
7 Best: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez
The 2012 Boston Red Sox were a disaster, and they were happy to rid themselves of some massive dollars. They traded away MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto and overpaid veterans Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. The latter two names were well past their primes when they came to Los Angeles, but neither of them are in the majors any more.
Though the Dodgers had to take a lot of money back, Adrian Gonzalez was well worth it. Since joining the Dodgers, 'Gonzo' has led them to four NL West Division titles, won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award in 2014 while leading the majors in RBI that same year.
Gonzalez has hit over 20 home runs three times and has batted over .270 every year with the Dodgers. He's arguably the team's best hitter and is a huge reason they're always in title contention.
6 Worst: Signing Jason Schmidt
Jason Schmidt had a remarkable career in the majors as one of the most dominant pitchers in recent memory. He went 130-96 with a 3.96 ERA and registered 1,758 strikeouts. Schmidt was a three-time All-star and led won the 2003 National League ERA title.
After a successful six-year stint with the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Schmidt away from their arch-rivals on a three-year deal worth $47 million. But injuries prevented Schmidt from making much of an impact with Los Angeles. He was limited to six games in 2007 before a shoulder injury shut him down for the season. Schmidt didn't appear at all in 2008, and appeared in just four games during the 2009 season before being shut down once again.
Schmidt only played 10 games for the Dodgers, as shoulder injuries essentially ended his career. That was out of the Dodgers' control, but the $47 million went to waste for them.
5 Best: Signing Hideo Nomo
Hideo Nomo was a pitching phenom in Japan, and the Dodgers noticed it. Before the 1995 season, the Dodgers signed Nomo to join their pitching staff, and he delivered right away. He went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and ridiculous 236 strikeouts, winning the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year award.
Nomo went 16-11 with a 3.19 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 1996 and followed that up with 14 wins in 1997 with 233 strikeouts. Nomo then bounced around from team-to-team before rejoining Los Angeles in 2002. That year, he went 16-6 with a 3.39 ERA. Nomo went 16-13 in 2005 and posted a 3.09 ERA.
And with that, the Dodgers investment in Nomo became well worth it. His dominance let Nomo to being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly only of the greatest signings in franchise history.
4 Worst: Trading Davey Lopes
Davey Lopes is one of the greatest ball players in Los Angeles Dodgers history. He played with the organization from 1972 to 1981, reaching four All-Star games, the 1978 Gold Glove and led the NL in bases stolen twice. Lopes led the Dodgers to the 1981 World Series championship as well. He finished his career with a .263 batting average and 557 stolen bases.
But after 10 seasons with the Dodgers, the team opted to trade him to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Lance Hudson, a minor league player who failed to make an impact in the majors.
Even after the trade, Lopes remained an elite base-runner and was still a solid contact hitter. He didn't lose his touch even though the Dodgers seemed to believe he was bast his prime. They didn't get a great return for the perennial star, either.
3 Best: Signing Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson was a solid player on the Detroit Tigers and helped them win the 1984 World Series. Despite that, the team wasn't eager to pay him his asking price. Gibson was granted free agency by an arbitrator and signed with the Dodgers before the 1988 season. Boy, did that ever change history.
In his first year with the Dodgers, Gibson batted .290 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI and posted an amazing .860 OPS. That was good enough for the NL MVP and Silver Slugger Award. But that's not even what cemented Gibson's legacy.
The Dodgers faced the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, and Gibson was battling a bad knee and pulled hamstring. Nonetheless, manager Tommy Lasorda brought him up as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth, down by one run with two outs and a runner on base.
As many of you know, Gibson crushed a pitch off Dennis Eckersley into the right field seats, winning Game 1 for the Dodgers. Los Angeles would beat the Athletics in five games, winning the World Series thanks to the addition of Gibson's MVP season.
2 Worst: Trading Pedro Martinez
The Baseball Hall of Famer is recognized as one of the most dominant and accomplished pitchers in MLB history. The Dodgers initially had their hands on Pedro Martinez after signing him in 1988. But the Dodgers didn't see nor value him as a starter and wanted a speedy second baseman, so he was dealt to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Delino DeShields. The latter spent just three seasons in Los Angeles.
As for Martinez? Well...
He'd go on to win 219 games with a career 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. Martinez was a three-time Cy Young winner, eight-time All-star and five-time MLB ERA champion. He was a big piece of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series championship team as well.
It was absolutely one of the worst trades this franchise ever made.
1 Best: Signing Sandy Koufax
To many, Sandy Koufax is the greatest pitcher in MLB history. The Dodgers scouted Koufax and liked what they saw, signing him for $6,000 that came with a fancy $14,000 bonus. And what did this Koufax guy do?
He won 165 games, had a 2.76 career ERA and struck out 2,396 batters. Koufax was a seven-time All-Star and led the Dodgers to four World Series championships. Oh, and he was a three-time Cy Young winner, two-time World Series MVP, 1963 NL MVP, five-time NL ERA champion and led the majors in strikeouts four times.
Koufax accomplished all of that despite a relatively short career that lasted just 12 seasons. The Baseball Hall of Famer turned the Dodgers into a National League powerhouse and embarked on a pitching career for the ages.
He's the greatest player in franchise history, so we'll happily put him on number one here.