Sandy Alderson’s been working the phones; SOURCES say the Mets have been in on Jonathan Lucroy and Jay Bruce. But the Mets should instead retool for next season. The 2017 Mets are closer to the National League East title than this year’s team. Barring a shocking Nationals collapse, 7 1/2 games is an insurmountable deficit with only 57 games left in the season. Why not trade Addison Reed? His 2016 salary is merely $5.3 million — and while he’ll earn a raise next year, in his final season of arbitration, he’ll still earn less than he would as a free agent. Relievers have fetched stupendous returns at this deadline. Reed could bring the Mets a quality minor-leaguer who could step in to the lineup next season, when the team should be healthier and ready to compete once again.
That’s an alternative reality, though. Alderson has shown no interest in making such a trade. So instead of discussing how the Mets improved themselves at this deadline, we’ll look back to the past trades that we recall most fondly. — Scott D. Simon (@scottdsimon)
June 15, 1969 — Mets Acquire Donn Clendenon
Donn Clendenon was Yoenis Cespedes before Cespedes was even born. This trade’s importance cannot be overstated, as it helped the Mets win their first World Series. Kevin Collins and the three minor leaguers did nothing in their career, while Steve Renko had a decent career as a middling starting pitcher. However, it was the addition of Clendenon to a struggling offense — and the team’s subsequent World Series victory — that people still remember to this day.
Clendenon slashed .252/.321/.455 with 12 homers in 226 plate appearances for the 1969 Mets He followed that up with a brilliant 22 homer and .288/.348/.515 slash line campaign in 1970. However, what Clendenon is most celebrated for is his performance in the 1969 World Series. He homered in games 2, 4, and 5, and doubled in game 1, to propel the Mets to a five-game series victory over the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles. This trade will always be a big part of Mets history as a major piece of the Mets legendary 1969 season. — Tyler Plofker (@)
June 15, 1983 — Mets Acquire Keith Hernandez
The Cardinals’ misfortune was the Mets’ gain. Twelve years after improbably turning a 42nd-round pick into a World Series champion, a Gold Glover, and the 1979 co-NL MVP, Keith Hernandez was done with St. Louis. He was on the outs with skipper Whitey Herzog, they suspected drug abuse (which was true), and he wanted a new contract. So at the trade deadline in 1983, the Cardinals rid themselves of their All-Star first baseman.
All the Mets had to give up to get Hernandez were pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. The latter would appear in just 21 games for St. Louis before his career ended in ’86. Allen was okay for a couple of years, but then he collapsed in ’85 and was sold to the Yankees. Meanwhile, Hernandez kicked his cocaine habit, returned to All-Star form in ’84, and finished in the top 10 for NL MVP in back-to-back years. His superb .310/.413/.446 season in ’86 brought the Mets to a World Series title, and etched his place in franchise lore.
So thanks, Cardinals! That almost makes up for Yadier Molina. Almost. — Andrew Mearns (@MearnsPSA)
December 10, 1984 — Mets Acquire Gary Carter
The Mets have a knack for being just one measly power-hitting catcher away from assembling a team that can achieve greatness. That was the case in May 1998, when they acquired Mike Piazza from the Marlins, but it was even truer some 14 years earlier when general manager Frank Cashen pulled off one of the great trades of the decade, sending four middling-at-best players in their 20s to Montreal — only Hubie Brooks, who would hit 121 more homers after the trade, did anything of consequence — for the lynchpin of a future World Series winner.
Carter was already one of the game’s great hitting catchers when he arrived for spring training in 1985. In his first season with the Mets, he became the first catcher since Johnny Bench eight years earlier to hit both 30 homers and drive in 100 runs. (Carlton Fisk, by then with the White Sox, also accomplished the feat that year.) Carter’s infectious personality and clear joie de vivre also made him an instant fan favorite for all-time. But it was that prowess at the plate, along with his veteran command of an elite pitching staff, that propelled the Mets from 90 wins in ’84 to 98 in ’85 and then 108 in ’86. He only lasted five seasons in Queens, but the Kid sure made the most of them. — Erik Malinowski (@erikmal)
December 20, 1996 — Mets Acquire John Olerud
In 1996, the Mets used three first basemen who combined for 0.5 wins above replacement. The Blue Jays were looking to deal away incumbent first baseman John Olerud so they could move Carlos Delgado to first and put an aging Joe Carter at designated hitter. The Mets took advantage of Toronto’s frustration with the patient Olerud and offered Robert Person, a 26-year-old pitcher who was only slightly better than replacement. Olerud had a resurgence after moving to the National League, posting a .400 on base percentage in 1997.
He re-signed for two more years, posting 17.2 wins above replacement during his time in Queens. Olerud holds the Mets’ single season records in batting average (.352) and on base percentage (.447), along with the franchise records in both categories for anyone who spent at least 2000 plate appearances as a Met. Batting helmet aside, he was an outstanding defensive first baseman and part of one of the best defensive infields ever in 1999. Olerud replaced the immortal Butch Huskey at first; he moved to a right field/utility role for his best seasons before the Mets dealt him. Person was below replacement level in Toronto and got traded to Philadelphia years later. To think, Toronto was so happy to get rid of Olerud that they paid most of his contract in 1997! — Noah Grand (@noahgrand)
May 22, 1998 — Mets Acquire Mike Piazza
When the Mets dealt the trio of Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz to the Florida Marlins for Mike Piazza, they made one of the best trades (if not the best trade) in New York Mets history. During his seven-and-a-half seasons with the Mets, Piazza hit 220 home runs, including as 200 as a catcher, on his way to setting the record for home runs at that position with 396. Piazza will be remembered for helping the Mets reach the playoffs in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. But he solidified himself as a legend in New York for his home run in the first game back after September 11th, on September 21st igniting the crowd and leading the Mets to victory. Recently, Piazza was inducted into the Hall of Fame (the second player to do so as a Met) and had his number 31 retired by the team on Saturday, July 30th.
The pieces sent to the Marlins cannot compare to what Piazza brought to the Mets. Preston Wilson had a solid career of ten seasons in the Major Leagues (with multiple teams) but had problems striking out too frequently. Yarnall pitched minimally over two seasons for the Yankees before playing overseas in Japan and becoming a career minor leaguer. Goetz never made it past Double-A before crashing out of baseball. With these results, it is easy to see the Mets got the best of this trade. — Seth Rubin (@sethrubin)
November 24, 2005 — Mets Acquire Carlos Delgado
Omar Minaya did not inherit a particularly good farm system from his predecessors, especially after 2004 deadline deals sent Justin Huber and Scott Kazmir away for Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano. And Omar wouldn’t do a great job restocking the system during his tenure either. He was pretty good at figuring out who to deal though, at least early on. The Mets had tried to get Delgado as a free agent shortly after Minaya took over, but lost out to the Florida Marlins in the midst of one of their #MarlinsTakeovers. The front office only had to wait until the next offseason though, as the Marlins inevitably sold off their high-priced players.
The package going to Florida — Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas — pretty spiffy at the time. Petit made it all the way to Triple-A Norfolk late in 2005 and was considered the 69th-best prospect in the game, per Baseball America. Jacobs had a white-hot September with the Mets, slugging over .700, and no doubt the Marlins had visions of six cheap years of his mashing as Delgado’s replacement. And Psomas, well, I honestly forgot he was in the deal, but he would have hung around the back end of a Mets top 10 list in that era after a season mashing at two A-ball levels.
You know how it went from there. Delgado spent three seasons batting cleanup for a high-powered Mets lineup (sighs wistfully) while Jacobs turned out to be a Quad-A masher, Petit didn’t establish himself as a useful major-league swingman until four organizations on (with a detour into the Mexican League), and Psomas never made the majors. There would be plenty of Bannister-for-Burgos and Heath Bell-for-Jon Adkins to come, but Omar definitely got this one right. — Jeffrey Paternostro (@jeffpaternostro)
July 31, 2015 — Mets Acquire Yoenis Cespedes
Through his first 15 major-league starts, Michael Fulmer has a 2.50 ERA. His peripherals don’t quite support that level of dominance — he carries a 3.15 DRA and a 3.67 FIP — and a great half-season doesn’t quell the longer-term durability issues that kept Fulmer’s prospect stock a bit lower than it otherwise might’ve been. But Fulmer is already a heck of a pitcher, only a year out from the trade that sent him away from the Mets, and Luis Cessa might yet emerge in a rotation or a bullpen too.
Yet nothing Fulmer or Cessa could do diminishes the franchise-altering nature of getting Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes has been one of the eight- or ten-best position players in baseball over the past calendar year, a terrifying force of nature as a hitter bouncing between Gold Glove-quality defense in left and adequacy in center. More than that, the Mets won the pennant on the back of his MVP-quality 2015 stretch run. As Joe Sheehan most famously posited, flags do fly forever, and while the financial and moral implications of turning around a moribund franchise aren’t quite as everlasting, they’re still huge. And this is the deal that got the Mets there. – Jarrett Seidler (@jaseidler)
Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons