But what contending teams made the biggest game-changing swaps? Let's take a look at the past few weeks to figure it out.
1. Cliff Lee(notes) to the Texas Rangers: The July 9 trade with Seattle was the first blockbuster to go down and no one was able to top it in the three weeks that followed. In acquiring Lee and his insane K/BB mark (114 to 7), the Rangers nabbed the best pitching prospect on the market and showed they weren't going to let their financial situation turn them into a "just happy to be here" division winner in the the playoffs. C.J. Wilson(notes) is a nice pitcher, but Lee gives them a much better start to any playoff series.
2. Roy Oswalt(notes) to the Philadelphia Phillies: Though his Fightin' debut left a lot to be desired, Oswalt's decision to relent and leave Houston for the northeast potentially gives the Phillies the league's best 1-2-3 pitching rotation. At the very least, it ended the hot potato that was Philly's third starter spot and gives the team the rotation stability it will need to catch Atlanta.
3. Ted Lilly(notes), Ryan Theriot(notes), Scott Podsednik(notes) and Octavio Dotel(notes) to the Los Angeles Dodgers: For being handcuffed by the McCourts' tight purse strings, GM Ned Colletti sure was able to add a lot of usable pieces. Lilly will be a reliable starter for Joe Torre's rotation and should pitch well in spacious Dodger Stadium. The other three players aren't going to cause too much excitement, but will give the Dodgers depth when they could have just done nothing. The most incredible part is that ESPN's Buster Olney hears that all four players were only added for about $3 million in extra payroll.
4. Miguel Tejada(notes) and Ryan Ludwick(notes) to the San Diego Padres: Remember when we thought the Friars were going to be finding new homes for Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Heath Bell(notes) at the deadline? Yeah, the best record in the National League quashed that prediction long ago and GM Jed Hoyer did well to add two experienced bats (in two separate deals) to a team with an already stellar pitching staff. The Padres are not who we thought they were!
5. Lance Berkman(notes) and Kerry Wood(notes) to the New York Yankees: Adding two over-the-hill veterans with a history of injuries isn't too awe-inspiring. But while many teams were not able to add a coveted hitter or a reliever, the Yankees were able to do both by picking up a switch-hitting DH and some bullpen depth for a very cheap price. Neither has a ring to his name, so maybe these guys find a different gear to kick over these next few months in the Bronx.
6. Dan Haren(notes) and Alberto Callaspo(notes) to the Los Angeles Angels: This would be challenging for the No. 2 spot on this list if Haren and the Halos were having a better season. But with the Rangers running away with the AL West, the Angels are down here and must settle for the consolation prize for the best move made with an eye toward 2011 (and beyond).
7. Matt Capps(notes) to the Minnesota Twins: The first six makeovers were listed for positive reasons, but the next few are here because they were left incomplete. In this case, Capps is having a fine season and should make an impact coming out of Minnesota's bullpen. But considering that GM Bill Smith gave up Wilson Ramos(notes), it would have made a lot more sense for the Twins to use the top catching prospect as a lure for the solid starter they need.
8. Edwin Jackson(notes) to the Chicago White Sox: Despite the immediate speculation that E-Jax was going to be immediately flipped for lineup help, it looks like he's staying on the South Side. His price — just over $8 million — is very steep for a fifth starter, but at least it helps plug the hole that was created by Jake Peavy's(notes) season-ending injury.
9. Jake Westbrook(notes) to the St. Louis Cardinals: Congratulations to Westbrook for his comeback from injury this season, but we once expected this starter slot to be filled by either Haren or Oswalt. One year after coming up big with the Matt Holliday(notes) trade, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak decided to opt for Lee instead of Levi's.
10. Chad Qualls(notes) to the Tampa Bay Rays: While the Yankees add a few decent tweaks for a few small prices, the team nipping at their heels in the AL East is forced to tout a castoff from the worst bullpen in the major leagues as its big deadline acquisition. Such is baseball life in Tampa Bay in the year 2010.