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These 10 trades set the stage for the 2015 MLB trade deadline

As we begin trade season and we get ever closer to the July 31 MLB trade deadline, let's take a look back at the ten most significant trades that have already gone down this season.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Although July is undoubtedly the busiest month for in-season trades, teams started the wheeling and dealing a little early this year by completing many significant deals in the months of April, May and June. The addition of a second wild-card team has led to increased parity throughout the game, blurring the line that divides buyers and sellers and causing teams to be more aggressive in early-season trade talks.

By our count, 21 major-league trades of varying significance have been completed since the first pitch of this season was thrown. That number doesn't include the April blockbuster that sent Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. to the Padres, as that trade was technically completed during the last hours of the offseason. As the calendar turns to July and trade season begins, let's look at the early returns on the top 10 most significant deals to be completed since the season started.

10. Orioles trade Ryan Webb to Dodgers (story)

ORIOLES ACQUIRE: DODGERS ACQUIRE:

RHP Ben Rowen

C Chris O'Brien

RHP Ryan Webb

C Brian Ward

74th overall pick (RHP Josh Sborz)

The first trade of the season was a significant one not because of the players involved, but for the new, creative strategy that a forward-thinking Dodgers' front office applied in order to acquire a future asset. Although the team released Webb four days after the trade and never used him at any level of their organization, they essentially bought the 74th overall pick (Sborz) for $2.75 million by paying Webb's salary for the year.

Webb has spent his season with the Indians, while the other three players involved are looked at as nothing more than organizational depth. Sborz, who won a national championship as Virginia's closer this season, looks to be a valuable prospect for the future and may rise to the Dodgers' major-league bullpen in short order.

9. Dodgers trade Xavier Cedeno to Rays (story)

DODGERS ACQUIRE: RAYS ACQUIRE:

Cash considerations

LHP Xavier Cedeno

Cedeno moved from the Nationals to the Dodgers to the Rays in a matter of days in late April, but has been a consistent producer for a surprising Rays team.

The southpaw was designated for assignment by Washington after allowing two earned runs in six innings of work to start the year, but has posted a solid 2.50 ERA in eighteen innings since joining Tampa Bay. Paying a small price (cash considerations) for an effective lefty reliever was a savvy, under-the-radar move by the Rays.

8. Yankees trade David Carpenter to Nationals (story)

YANKEES ACQUIRE: NATIONALS ACQUIRE:

INF Tony Renda

RHP David Carpenter

The Yankees surprised people by designating Carpenter for assignment this month, but were able to find a suitor in the Nationals, who were looking for bullpen help in the wake of injuries to Aaron Barrett and Craig Stammen.

Carpenter has been excellent in his first six appearances for Washington, posting 4.2 scoreless innings as a middle reliever, while Renda has struggled with Double-A Trenton, posting a .245/.328/.283 line in his first fifteen games.

7. Red Sox trade Edward Mujica to Athletics (story)

RED SOX ACQUIRE: ATHLETICS ACQUIRE:

Cash considerations

RHP Edward Mujica

Mujica struggled mightily in eleven appearances with Boston to start the season (4.61 ERA in 13.2 innings), but has been serviceable for the Athletics since being traded in early May.

Despite appearing in just nine games, Mujica has posted an improved 3.24 ERA and 0.960 WHIP while recording eight strikeouts.

6. Cubs trade Welington Castillo to Mariners (story)

CUBS ACQUIRE: MARINERS ACQUIRE:

RHP Yoervis Medina

C Welington Castillo

The Cubs had no need for Castillo due to their offseason additions of Miguel Montero and David Ross, so a trade seemed inevitable. The Mariners, who had been dealing with struggles from Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre all season, seemed like a great fit for Castillo, but he was traded to Arizona in a larger deal after appearing in only six games for the M's and notching only three hits in 25 at-bats.

Castillo's greatest value came as a trade chip, as he ended up being a significant piece in the deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle. Medina has notched five scoreless innings in the Cubs' major-league bullpen this year and looks like a potential piece for that team's future.

5. Orioles trade Alejandro De Aza to Red Sox (story)

ORIOLES ACQUIRE: RED SOX ACQUIRE:

RHP Joe Gunkel

OF Alejandro De Aza

Cash considerations

Boston's acquisition of De Aza flew under the radar at the time due to his status in DFA limbo, but the veteran has been excellent for the Red Sox, posting a .317/.348/.619 line in 63 at-bats. De Aza has earned a long-term roster spot due to his performance during Shane Victorino's absence, and is slated to be part of a platoon once Victorino returns from the disabled list later this week.

Gunkel, a former 18th-round pick, has been great at Double-A for Baltimore, posting a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings since the deal.

4. Diamondbacks trade Touki Toussaint to Braves (story)

DIAMONDBACKS ACQUIRE: BRAVES ACQUIRE:

INF Phil Gosselin

RHP Bronson Arroyo

RHP Touki Toussaint

In one of the most widely-criticized deals in recent memory, the Braves bought a top prospect from Arizona by taking on Arroyo's contract (about $10.1 million) and losing Gosselin.

Obviously, the ramifications of this trade won't be clear for five or six years, as Toussaint is just nineteen years old and has only made one appearance in the Braves' organization. Gosselin and Arroyo are both dealing with injuries at the moment and could contribute to their new teams by the end of the season.

3. Dodgers trade Juan Uribe to Braves (story)

DODGERS ACQUIRE: BRAVES ACQUIRE:

INF Alberto Callaspo

LHP Eric Stults

LHP Ian Thomas

RHP Juan Jaime

INF Juan Uribe

RHP Chris Withrow

Although Callaspo basically had to be bribed to make this deal go through, each team filled needs as the Dodgers added short-term pitching depth and the Braves upgraded their bench while adding a long-term pitching piece. Uribe has been very good in 28 games with Atlanta since the deal, hitting .298/.365/.436 with three homers, and Withrow may be a relief gem if he comes back healthy from Tommy John surgery.

On the Dodgers' side, Callaspo has been solid with a .291/.371/.364 line in 55 at-bats while providing a cheaper alternative to Uribe. Stults, Thomas and Jaime are currently stashed in the minors as much-needed pitching depth, though Jaime and Thomas could develop into long-term solutions for the Dodgers.

2. Angels trade Josh Hamilton to Rangers (story)

ANGELS ACQUIRE: RANGERS ACQUIRE:

PTBNL or cash considerations

OF Josh Hamilton

Cash considerations

The most shocking deal of the year came in late April, when the Angels ended their Josh Hamilton saga by shipping him back to Texas in a deal in which the Angels received only a small amount of salary relief in return.

Before a hamstring injury cost him four weeks, Hamilton showed signs of returning to his old self, hitting .273 while notching two home runs in his first 22 at-bats of the season while the Angels scour the trade market for outfield help due to the immense struggles of Matt Joyce. Texas will have Hamilton through the 2017 season while the Angels pay almost all of his remaining salary.

1. Diamondbacks trade Mark Trumbo to Mariners (story)

DIAMONDBACKS ACQUIRE: MARINERS ACQUIRE:

C Welington Castillo

RHP Dominic Leone

OF Gabriel Guerrero

INF Jack Reinheimer

OF Mark Trumbo

LHP Vidal Nuno

In what many considered the first aggressive strike of the trade season, the disappointing Mariners nabbed Trumbo from the D-Backs in an effort to boost their struggling offense. The slugger has been an absolute disaster so far for Seattle, hitting only .151 with one home run in 73 at-bats heading into play on Tuesday night.

Although Nuno has been a solid relief option (2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings), the Mariners gave up a significant amount in the deal- including their 5th (Guerrero) and 14th (Reinheimer) best prospects, according to MLB.com. Castillo, who has already been traded twice this season, has been solid for Arizona, notching a .275/.339/.588 line while hitting four homers in fourteen games.