Rewind to 2017 when it was very clearly the Los Angeles Dodgers' year. They made it to the World Series and were set to battle the Houston Astros. That trade deadline, Andrew Friedman acquired Yu Darvish, Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani to bolster the team's pitching staff. Ready for a run!
In those three deals, the Dodgers ended up trading prospects AJ Alexy, Willie Calhoun and Brendon Davis for Darvish; Oneil Cruz and Angel German for Watson; and Scott Van Slyke and Hendrik Clementina for Cingrani. You know the big blunder here -- Cruz going to the Pirates for Watson ended up being a huge overpay, just based on Cruz's raw talent alone (he's currently injured, but that doesn't make it any better).
However, it could've been much worse. Walker Buehler appeared on The Just Baseball Show this week and revealed it was almost him dealt to Texas for Darvish. The Rangers reportedly wanted a one-for-one swap with Darvish and Buehler.
Thankfully, the Dodgers stood their ground and ended up trading those three prospects -- all of whom are worth next to nothing in the present day. Cruz, out of everyone that was traded, is the only one with a promising future.
But imagine if the Dodgers relented and tossed in Buehler, who, by the way, appeared in eight games that year as a September call-up and finished with a 7.71 ERA, 5.94 FIP and 2.04 WHIP? They could've completely compromised their future.
Rangers asked for Walker Buehler in Yu Darvish trade back in 2017
For starters, the Dodgers don't win the 2020 World Series without Buehler, so that's the No. 1 way this would have compromised their future. Buehler, who immediately emerged the next season as a Rookie of the Year candidate, bulldozed the competition during the 2020 playoffs.
He battled blister issues against the Brewers and Padres in the Wild Card Series and NLDS before fully taking care of business against the Braves in the NLCS and the Rays in the World Series. When all was said and done, he made five starts (25 innings) and allowed just five earned runs on 18 hits and 12 walks with 39 strikeouts. He won a pivotal Game 6 against Atlanta with the Dodgers trailing that series 3-2.
Additionally, outside of Buehler's injury-shortened 2022 season, he's been one of the best pitchers in the sport. He owns a 3.02 ERA, 3.26 FIP and 1.04 WHIP in 115 career games (106 starts). He also boasts a 2.94 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 101 strikeouts in 15 career playoff starts (79.2 innings).
Even in a world where the Dodgers managed to extend Darvish, the right-hander missed most of 2018 after undergoing elbow surgery, came back to have a productive 2019 (but led the league in home runs allowed), and still hasn't been as good as Buehler, who the Dodgers managed to keep at a fraction of the price. Darvish also didn't give the Dodgers a chance in that 2017 World Series, losing Games 3 and 7 without much of a fight. Now he's helping weigh down a massive Padres payroll.
LA fans couldn't be happier this hypothetical trade didn't happen, but it's certainly still jarring to even think about.