Outfielder Bernard Gilkey came to the New York Mets in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Though he only had one good year with the Mets, they clearly won the deal.
His first season was one of the best any position player had in Mets history. Gilkey hit 30 home runs and finished the year with 117 RBI. The next year and a half weren’t nearly as productive, leaving a sour taste in many Mets fans mouths.
In 1997, Gilkey hit 18 home runs and saw his batting average drop more than 60 points down to .249. He ended on a low-point in 1998, batting .227 before he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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As poorly as it ended, if we look back at the trade that first brought Gilkey to the Mets, it’s not so bad. The Mets took a chance on a quality player without giving up much at all.
Gilkey began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals as a guy best known for hitting for a good average and getting on base a ton. He never hit more than 17 home runs in a season with St. Louis. So, to see him smash 30 in 1996 was a pleasant surprise.
The Mets got the best year possible out of Gilkey in 1996. They didn’t even have to give up all that much either.
On January 22, 1996, the Mets acquired Gilkey in a trade with the Cardinals. In return, the Cardinals received Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick. Only Ludwick ever played a game for the Cardinals.
Ozorio failed to make the majors while Hiljus had one good season with the Oakland Athletics in 2001 as a reliever. Ludwick’s time with St. Louis was cut short as he was involved in an even bigger trade one year later.
In the summer of 1997, Ludwick went from the Cardinals to the Athletics in the Mark McGwire deal.
For the Mets to get one really good year out of Gilkey, this trade should go down as a win. Even though his time as a productive player didn’t last long, he gave them the last really good season of his career.
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In the history of Mets trades, there are plenty of losses. The Gilkey deal, while not a steal, did give them a better chance to win. They shouldn’t regret a thing.