There’s no doubt the New York Mets won the trade that brought David Cone to Flushing. The trade that sent him away is a little more questionable.
There aren’t many trades in New York Mets history which can be considered a win when the return they got was for a prospect. The March 27, 1987 trade with the Kansas City Royals that sent David Cone to Flushing is one of the exceptions.
Shortly before the start of their champion-defense season, the Mets added Cone to the roster. He had never started in the big leagues. A year prior, he received just 11 relief appearances with Kansas City with the end result including a 5.56 ERA.
Cone didn’t take off in his first year with the Mets. He spent time in the rotation and the bullpen, finishing the year with a 5-6 record and 3.71 ERA.
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One year later, everything change and the Mets officially won the Cone trade.
In 1988, the Amazins returned to the postseason by capturing the National League East. Cone played a huge part for them, making 28 starts and another 7 relief appearances. All told, he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA. It looked like the Mets had a stud in their rotation for years to come.
Meanwhile, over in Kansas City, there was probably some regret over this deal. None of the guys who went to Missouri were nearly as effective.
Rick Anderson only pitched 47 more big league innings—all with the Royals. He put up a 6.89 ERA in those frames. Mauro Gozzo never made it to Kansas City, instead getting dealt in another trade before his big league debut. He actually ended up with the Mets for the 1993 and 1994 seasons.
As for Ed Hearn, perhaps the most notable of the three players sent to the Royals, he only managed to see action in 13 MLB games after leaving the Mets. His successful stint with the organization during the 1986 season as a backup catcher didn’t seem to give him any opportunities in the future.
Although this trade was a success, the next deal the team made involving Cone wasn’t so wonderful.
On August 27, 1992, Cone was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays a few months before he was set to hit free agency. In return, the club landed a player to be named later which turned out to be Ryan Thompson along with future MVP Jeff Kent.
Kent’s time in New York was short-lived but did include some success from 1992-1996. He hit .279/.327/.453 during those seasons with 67 home runs.
It was about all they could hope to get in return for Cone—a pitcher still in his prime. However, because the Mets decided to move on from Kent in the middle of the 1996 season, it feels like a wasted potential victory for them.
One of the more infamous bad trades in club history involved the July 29, 1996 deal which sent Kent and shortstop Jose Vizcaino to the Cleveland Indians for Alvaro Espinoza and Carlos Baerga. For many, Baerga has a place in club history as one of the worst second basemen. Perhaps the only player who offers him any competition is Roberto Alomar. Ironically enough, he was also acquired by the Mets in a trade with the Indians.
So because the Mets didn’t make the most of Kent’s time in Flushing and essentially flipped him for a lesser second baseman, it almost feels as if the club nearly lost the second half of Cone trades.
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Considering the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 in part because of Cone’s presence, it’s tough to call them losers in the deal. If anything, at best, it’s a draw.