Colorado Rockies: 10 Biggest Trades in Franchise History: 7-4

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Jul 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of Coors Field prior to the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of Coors Field prior to the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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#5: Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to the Chicago Cubs for DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin

Baseball is a funny game sometimes. When this trade went down, most people weighing in on the trade felt like LeMahieu was the least intriguing player involved. A little more than five years later, he’s the only one still playing for an MLB franchise.

It seems almost hard to believe now, but there was a time where Stewart was widely considered one of the most exciting prospects in the game. Baseball America once ranked him as the 4th-best prospect in the minors, and he was featured on their top 100 list a record-tying five times.

That record, however, is an interesting paradox. On one hand, it indicates that player is highly regarded from a young age. On the other hand, being on the list five times means it’s been at least five years since that player joined the organization, and he still hasn’t become a MLB player.

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Sometimes this is just a case of a player taking a little bit longer to put things together before they reach the big leagues for good: Chipper Jones and Michael Cuddyer both fit into that group.

But sometimes, the “five-timer club” is an indicator that for all the gifts that player may have, there’s something broken with their game that may never be fixed.  The list is littered with names like Chad Hermansen, Jim Pittsley or Ryan Anderson (who was featured five times and never even made an MLB roster).

The Cubs made this trade hoping Stewart (and to a lesser extent, Weathers, a highly-drafted reliever who battled numerous injuries) would end up in that first category. Unfortunately for both Stewart and Chicago, it turned out to be the latter.

Stewart barely cracked the Mendoza line in 2012, batting .201 in 55 games for the Cubs. In 2013, he struggled in Triple-A before some ill-advised tweets led to his release. Stewart appears to be retired, as he hasn’t played professionally since being released by the Washington Nationals in June of 2015.

Colvin, widely considered the more valuable half of the Rockies return at the time, had a strong debut season in Colorado. Given a career-high 420 at-bats, Colvin responded by batting .290 with 18 home runs. But in 2013, Colvin slumped horribly and was demoted to Triple-A. By the end of the season, the Rockies, rich with outfielders, no longer had a spot for him.

LeMahieu, meanwhile, continues to defy expectations. Just four years ago, most thought he’d be the backup at second base behind Josh Rutledge, but by the end of the season, he had convincingly established himself as the starter. In 2015, he was named an All-Star, and last season he won the batting title with a .348 average.

This was the first trade Theo Epstein made after being hired as the Cubs general manager, and in a recent interview with the New York Times, Epstein admitted he regretted the decision.

"“Sometimes, you show up somewhere and you can make a mistake in your first off-season by not being as familiar as you should be with a player, because you haven’t seen him yourself in person,” Epstein said. “We felt like there were good bat-to-ball skills there, and sound defense. From the reports, we weren’t sold on his bat speed, didn’t think there’d be a lot of power. But he’s certainly proving us wrong. The bat-to-ball is really elite, and he’s made himself into one of the better defensive second basemen in the league.”"

Epstein is one of the best GMs in all of sports. The Rockies front office has taken plenty of criticism in recent years, much of it deserved, but the fact that they were able to pull one over on Epstein and his crew should count for something.

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