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New York Mets History

Mets history of signing former Cy Young winners signed in free agency

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 15: Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 15: Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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8 Oct 1999: Todd Pratt #7 of the New York Mets celebrates with Orel Hershiser #55 during the National League Division Series game against the Arizona DiamondBacks at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the DiamondBacks 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport /

Rick Porcello isn’t the first pitcher who won a Cy Young then ended up with the New York Mets via free agency. We take a look back through the team’s history of signing winners of the most prestigious pitching award.

Long before the New York Mets signed 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello ahead of the 2020 season, the team had already put together a rather deep history of inking former winners of this award.

The first they acquired was Warren Spahn. This happened back in the mid-1960s when teams would still often purchase players from another organization. In which case, Spahn doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of a free agent.

Even eliminating him and the handful of Cy Young winners they acquired via trade, Mets history runs deep with men who were at one point the league’s best pitcher.

Orel Hershiser

The first former Cy Young winner the Mets signed as a free agent was Orel Hershiser. The 1988 winner in the National League was well beyond his prime when he joined the orange and blue. While the Mets were competitive in his one season with the club during the 1999 season, he wasn’t the dynamic star he was in the late 1980s.

In his age 40 season, Hershiser went 13-12 with a 4.58 ERA in 32 starts for New York. He struck out only 12 more batters than walked, resulting in plenty of opportunities to score against him.

Hershiser was already regressing throughout the decade. On a $2.5 million deal, he gave the Mets some experience and enough quality innings to justify the signing.

In the 1999 postseason, Hershiser found a spot in the bullpen. He appeared in three games and came away with 5.1 scoreless innings. He did have some trouble with his command, yet another sign that his career was near the end.

The following season, Hershiser returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he won his lone Cy Young and World Series. He didn’t last the full season, going 1-5 with a 13.14 ERA in his 24.2 innings pitched.

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