On December 27, 2001, the New York Mets traded starting pitcher Kevin Appier to the Angels for first baseman Mo Vaughn. After seeing Todd Zeile smack just ten dingers in 2001, then-GM Steve Phillips felt the lineup needed an injection of power. Considering Vaughn owned 299 homeruns to-date, the big-boned slugger obviously knew a thing or two about hitting the long ball. Unfortunately, Vaughn also knew about eating too.
The Mets acquired Vaughn despite him missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, and eagerly plopped him into their lineup. However, the first baseman saw a deep decline in his offensive skills. The 34 year-old swatted a .259/.349/.456 line with 26 HR, 72 RBI, and 67 R in 558 PA’s. Considering he owned an average of a .306/.393/.553 line with 38 HR, 118 RBI, and 95 R from 1995 through 2000, fans were justifiably disappointed. Matters only worsened the following season, as Vaughn slumped to a miserable .190/.323/.329 line with 3 HR, 15 RBI, and 10 R in just 96 PA’s.
Vaughn’s arthritic knee was so paralyzing, that he called it quits before the 2004 season. Regardless, the Mets still paid the former-star about $46.5 million for a combined .249/.346/.438 line with 29 HR, 87 RBI, and 77 R in 654 PA’s over two seasons.
On the flip side, Kevin Appier, who hurled a 3.57 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 2.69 K/BB in 206.6 innings for the Mets in 2001, provided far more value for the 2002 Angels. The former Kansas City Royals ace pitched to the tune of a 3.92 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 2.06 K/BB in 188.3 IP, and helped the team advance to and win the World Series. Even though the veteran pitcher didn’t duplicate his success in 2003 (5.40 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 1.28 K/BB in 111.6 IP), the Angels were only on the hook for a combined $20.5 million between 2002 and 2003, and at least garnered one competent season out of Appier.
Needless to say, the Angels got the better end deal.