Free agency is one place where the New York Mets have found some of its greatest players. These ten men are the best at their position.
Many of the greatest New York Mets players in franchise history came to the organization via the amateur draft. Whenever I look over the franchise records, I’m always amazed at how many of the best in team history were draft picks.
Not everyone was originally a Met, however. In some cases, the club went out and acquired players via trade. Or as we’ll examine here, free agency.
Free agency is still relatively young in terms of baseball history. Beginning in the late 1970s, it gave teams a chance to add players through yet another route.
The adoption of free agency also gave players an opportunity to pick where they wanted to play. Since this became a common practice, these are the best Mets at each position to arrive in Flushing via free agency.
Starting Pitcher – Rick Reed
In Mets history, I don’t think any free agency pitcher was as good as Rick Reed. It’s pretty remarkable, too. Considering they also signed Hall of Famers Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez as free agents, it’s Reed who seemed to have the most positive impact.
When the Mets signed Reed as a free agent in 1995, I don’t think anyone expected him to become a rotation mainstay through the latter part of the decade and into the new century. By the time the 1997 season rolled around, Reed was already pitching in his age 32 season.
Wasting no time, Reed went 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA in his first year with the Mets. He continued pitch well throughout their winning stretch in the late 1990s and early 200s, eventually ending his time with the club with a 59-36 record and 3.66 ERA.
Relief Pitcher – Billy Wagner
There’s no question who the best relief pitcher the Mets landed via free agency is. Hard-throwing lefty Billy Wagner came to the team as a free agent in his mid-30s. Although injuries did get the best of him at times, when healthy, Wagner was excellent.
In two of the three seasons he actually did pitch regularly, Wagner was an All-Star. The other year was still impressive, ending with a 2.24 ERA and a sixth-place finish in the Cy Young voting.
As good as advertised, Wagner helped piece together the bullpen during a competitive era of Mets baseball. In three years pitching for the club, he saved 101 games to the tune of a 2.37 ERA.
Catcher – Wilson Ramos
Free agency hasn’t been the place where the Mets have found their best catchers. Looking at the top names in franchise history, everyone arrived in New York through the draft or a trade.
Wilson Ramos is different. He actually signed with the Mets. With very little competition, he’s an easy selection.
The only current Mets player you’ll find on this list, Ramos hit .288/.351/.416 for the club in 2019. Add in 14 home runs and 73 RBI, he had one very productive season at the plate.