The Chicago Cubs were once known for making some puzzling moves with their roster, but there have also been some times when the front office has looked like a collective of geniuses. Trades happen for every team, but it’s easy to get burned, especially when you’re relying on prospects to turn your franchise around. Throughout Cubs history, there are a few trades that benefitted the franchises for years after they happened. Here are the five best trades in Chicago Cubs history.
Third Base Staple
Dominican Republic native Aramis Ramirez, believe it or not, signed all the way back in 1994 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Four years later, he made his debut as the youngest player in the MLB and was solid with the Pirates for his first couple of seasons as the Cubs were gearing up for a postseason run, the team aimed at the present and future, making a big deal with the Pirates.
The Cubs traded away Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill to Pittsburgh in exchange for Ramirez to be the cornerstone of their franchise at third base for years to come. To help immediately, the Cubs also acquired Jose Hernandez and Kenny Lofton. Ramirez played nine seasons for the Cubs and batted .294 with 239 home runs.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo was drafted in the sixth round by the Boston Red Sox and was quickly traded to the San Diego Padres. While he was still trying to crack the Major Leagues, the Cubs traded for Rizzo by sending Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na. Fans were perplexed at the time since there was still hope for Cashner to live up to his first-round draft position.
While Cashner enjoyed nearly a decade in the Major Leagues, Rizzo became a Cubs icon. He helped the team win the 2016 World Series as the captain, becoming a perennial All-Star and Gold Glover winner. In 10 seasons with the Cubs, Rizzo batted .272 with 242 home runs and 784 runs batted in. Of course, it’s the World Series that means the most.
Ryno the Afterthought
Larry Bowa had been a Philadelphia Phillie for a very long time, but in the early 1980s wanted nothing to do with the franchise anymore. He demanded a trade, and the Cubs perked up immediately. The Cubs were willing to take on the veteran but told the Phillies that they wanted a young Ryne Sandberg as part of the deal.
Bowa had a mediocre career with the Cubs, but Ryne Sandberg became a Hall of Famer over his 15 seasons in Chicago. He would end up with a .285 batting average and 282 career home runs to go along with an MVP Award and 10 trips to the All-Star Game.
Larry Bowa isn’t the only former Phillie to end up having a Hall of Fame career with the Cubs. Fergie Jenkins started his career in Philadelphia as a relief pitcher but was quickly traded to Chicago in exchange for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. The trade paid off big time for the Cubbies as Jenkins made three All-Star Games and won a Cy Young in Chicago.
During the second half of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Fergie played with the Rangers and Red Sox before returning to Chicago in 1982. He ended his career with the Cubs, finishing with a 167-132 record and a 3.56 earned run average with the franchise en route to a Hall of Fame induction wearing a Cubs hat in 1991.
Whether you love him or hate him, and no matter how you felt about his possible use of performance-enhancing drugs, there’s no doubt that Sammy Sosa revitalized baseball in the Northside of Chicago. After coming up with the Rangers, Sosa was actually part of the Southsiders squad, though.
The Cubs acquired a slumping Sosa along with Ken Patterson in exchange for a disgruntled George Bell in a rare crosstown trade. Sosa, of course, became one of the best sluggers in Major League history, hitting 545 home runs in a Cubs uniform while putting up a .284 batting average. He also won the MVP Award in 1998 and hit over 60 home runs in three different seasons.