10. Juan Yepez trade (2017)
I’ll be transparent here: I had a lot of trouble deciding on No. 10 on this list, but I finally settled on the Cardinals’ trade of Matt Adams to the Atlanta Braves for Juan Yepez.
Adams had become an extra piece for the Cardinals after Matt Carpenter took over the first base job, and his production at the time (.292 average) made him a logical trade piece. In return, the Cardinals received Yepez, who had hit decently with the Braves’ Rookie League and Single-A affiliates but wasn’t considered a prospect.
Yepez hit well throughout much of his time in the Cardinals’ system and arrived in the major leagues five years after the trade. Through June of 2022, Yepez was one of the Cardinals’ best hitters, hitting .284 with nine home runs while splitting time between the outfield and designated hitter. He hurt his forearm in July and went on the injured list, and he wasn't as productive after he returned.
Yepez spent the beginning of 2023 in Triple-A Memphis until Tyler O'Neill's injury opened a door for him, and while Yepez does not have the defensive ability to play in the field every day, he still has a decent enough bat to play in a bench role.
Adams failed to produce much offense after the trade to the Braves, hitting .225 from 2018 to 2021 with four teams, including a brief return to St. Louis after they claimed him off waivers. Although Yepez is reaching the spot Adams did with the Cardinals at the end of his tenure — a player who is more of a luxury than a necessity — his production with the Cardinals to this point has far outweighed that of Adams with the teams he played for after the trade.