In one of the worst trades in New York Mets history, Jim Fregosi joined the team ahead of the 1972 campaign. Less than two years later the team sold him away.
It takes a big person to admit their mistake. The Jim Fregosi trade with the California Angels was one of the biggest in New York Mets history. Less than two years after it happened, the franchise wisely confessed to the error when they sold him to the Texas Rangers.
The Fregosi deal went down on December 10, 1971. On July 11, 1973, the two parted ways. Injuries and his poor performance had a lot to do with the decision to move out of New York.
The signs were already there that Fregosi’s career was taking a turn. After several seasons of playing All-Star baseball and receiving even mild MVP consideration, Fregosi hit .233 in 1971. A tumor was discovered on his foot and with 1972 as his age 30 seasons, there was a reason to believe he was on the decline.
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However, the Mets were willing to take the risk. They acquired Fregosi in the now infamous deal which sent four players to the Angels. The most successful of them was a man named Nolan Ryan. Ryan later went on to strike out more batters than any other pitcher in baseball history. You may have heard of him.
Fregosi played in only 101 games for the 1972 Mets while posting nearly identical numbers from the year before. He hit .232/.317/.326 with 5 home runs and 32 RBI.
He began the year with the Mets in 1973. In those 45 games, he slashed .234/.340/.282. He didn’t hit a single home run in his 144 trips to the plate.
Fregosi did perform better with Texas, but it came as a part-time player. He never played in more than 78 games in a season for the rest of his career. By the end of the decade, he was the Angels’ manager. Meanwhile, Ryan was a star in California still taking the field once or twice a week and making American League hitters look foolish.
The 1973 Mets season was a strange one. The team barely finished above .500 yet still managed to win the division because of how tight the race was. Able to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS, they took the American League champion Oakland Athletics to seven games in the World Series.
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Fregosi was not a part of this run which took place only a season and a half after he first joined the team. July 11, 1973, was his day of reckoning in New York. It was also a date where the front office admitted through action they wish they did things differently. If only the same could happen in today’s baseball world.