#4: Ramon Ramirez to the Kansas City Royals for Jorge De La Rosa
This trade was a bit more difficult to rank, because it depends on how you measure “biggest” trades. If you measure by media and fan attention, it probably doesn’t even belong on the list. But if you’re measuring by overall impact on the organization, you could argue the trade that brought Jorge De La Rosa to Colorado belongs even higher.
There is not a person on earth, including De La Rosa, that could have predicted the left-hander from Mexico would leave nine years after he arrived with the franchise record for wins and strikeouts. Look at this timeline of DLR’s career before the Rockies:
- March 1998: Signs with Arizona Diamondbacks
- April 2000: Purchased from Arizona by Monterrey (Mexican League)
- February 2001: Purchased from Monterrey by Boston Red Sox
- November 2003: Traded from Boston to Arizona
- December 2003: Traded from Arizona to Milwaukee
- July 2006: Traded from Milwaukee to Kansas City
When the Rockies traded Ramirez to Kansas City, they certainly were not expecting to get a guy who would be in their starting rotation for nearly a decade. Colorado agreed to trade Ramirez to the Royals for a player to be named later, and it took over a month for both sides to agree on DLR. At that time, he was 27-year old Triple-A pitcher who had been hit hard in his brief trips to the big leagues.
The Rockies gave DLR a spot in the rotation in 2008, and he responded with a career-high 10 wins. The next year, he had a miserable start to the season, going 0-6 in his first 10 starts. But after entering June winless, DLR was unbelivable for the rest of the season, going 16-3 and helping the Rockies reach the playoffs.
And then, because baseball and life can be cruel, DLR’s body refused to cooperate. He missed half of 2010 after tearing a tendon in his finger. He returned the next season, only to suffer a complete UCL tear that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery. For a three-year stretch from 2010-2012, he threw just 191.1 innings.
In 2013, after most of the baseball world had assumed he was done, he returned with a vengeance, going 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in the best individual season of his career. Up until 2016, when DLR was on the bump, the Rockies were probably going to win that day, especially if the game was at Coors Field.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the other guy in this trade. Ramirez was a solid reliever in his own right. He posted an ERA under 3.00 in four consecutive seasons after leaving Colorado, and won a World Series with the San Francisco Giants in 2010. But he was effectively finished as a MLB reliever by 2013, while DLR was still going strong.
Let’s not kid ourselves; DLR wasn’t a Cy Young candidate, or even a true ace at the top of a rotation. But he has done more to disprove the “it’s impossible to pitch well at Coors Field” myth than just about anyone. By a number of measures, he’s the most successful pitcher in the history of the franchise, and he was acquired as a PTBNL in a trade for a middle reliever.
Dan O’Dowd certainly had his shortcomings as a GM, but give the man some credit: he nailed this trade.