The 1983 trade between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals which sent Keith Hernandez to Flushing had a positive impact on his new team both on and off the field.
On June 15, 1983, the New York Mets cut a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for one of the Amazins’ most beloved players of all-time. Due to issues away from the field, former MVP Keith Hernandez was placed on the trade block. In a losing season with an aging Dave Kingman at first base, the Mets struck and cut a deal for a franchise-changing first baseman.
Despite joining his new team late, Hernandez led all players with a 4.4 WAR in 1983. Even though he played well, it didn’t take much. Closer Jesse Orosco had a historical season and somehow managed to the team with 13 wins. It was a team about to break into a new era of baseball. Hernandez would be there to help lead it.
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Hernandez became a National League All-Star in three of his first four full seasons with the Mets. In his first full year in 1984, he was the runner-up for the MVP Award. He did still manage to capture yet another Gold Glove and win the second Silver Slugger of his career. Early results were impressive. As the years went on, the deal continued to get better.
Culminating with the 1986 Championship, Hernandez became a fan-favorite. Though he didn’t have a particularly memorable postseason with the Mets in 1986 or 1988, he wasn’t a burden at any point.
Unfortunately, the 1988 campaign was the last productive one from Hernandez. Even in that year, El Sid managed to participate in just 95 games. His numbers were fading and by 1989, he looked finished.
Following the 1989 season, Hernandez signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians. He saw limited action due to injury and retired at the year’s completion. His time in the Mets’ organization was hardly over. He endeared himself to a new generation of fans with his broadcast career, providing some of the best commentary in sports during each and every game this team plays.
Plenty changed from the 1983 team to the 1984 squad. The arrival of Dwight Gooden and other Mets legends from the 1980s helped turn this franchise around. If not for the first captain in team history, Hernandez, future moves such as the acquisition of Gary Carter may have never happened.
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As far as great baseball trades go, the robbery of St. Louis for Keith is among the best.