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Mets: Five greatest trades for a starting pitcher in team history

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 30: Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 30: Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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BRONX, NY – JUNE 29: New York Mets starting pitcher Al Leiter #22 during their game against the New York Yankees on June 29, 2002 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Mets defeated the Yankees 11-2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

1) Al Leiter

Al Leiter was never the best pitcher in baseball. One could even argue he was never the best pitcher on the Mets other than maybe once or twice. Even so, in seven seasons with the organization, he managed to do a whole lot for the team. It all began with an offseason trade with the Florida Marlins.

After winning it all in 1997, the Marlins were ready to sell off everyone they could. One of the players they dealt away to reduce salary and rebuild was their veteran lefty, Leiter. Coming off a rather disappointing regular season and forgettable postseason performance, the Mets weren’t exactly expecting a whole lot from Leiter.

Fortunately, the 32-year-old lefty was actually ready to blossom.

Leiter is one of baseball’s late-bloomers. Until his age 27 season, he had bounced between the majors and minors. It took him until almost 30-years-old before he was an established starter in MLB.

By the time he arrived to the Mets, he was seasoned enough to become a leader. In 1998, he put together the best season of his career. Leiter went 17-6 and delivered a 2.47 ERA. Both are career-bests for the trusted southpaw.

As a member of the Mets, Leiter won 95 games and pitched with a 3.42 ERA in the middle of the Steroid Era. He was pretty great in the playoffs, too. In particular, his 2000 season included Series ERAs of 2.25, 3.86, and 2.87. Unfortunately, he had a record of only 0-1 in those four starts.

Since we’re talking trades, it’s important to know exactly what the Mets gave up to bring Leiter to Flushing. Rob Stratton, Jesus Sanchez, and A.J. Burnett all went to Miami in this deal. Ralph Milliard did also head to Queens, but like most of the players in this deal, he didn’t have much of an impact.

While Burnett did have some good years in Florida, what Leiter did in New York was far greater.

Next. Top Mets players born in New York

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