December 20, 1996 – Mets acquire John Olerud
Fortunately, we’ve arrived at an important part of this list. The previous two Mets trades with the Blue Jays subtracted an important piece of the franchise. This deal begins our streak of trades involving the Metropolitans actually acquiring talented pieces in deals with Toronto.
On December 20, 1996, Christmas arrived early for the Amazins. After a poor 1996 season with some good offensive performances, the team decided it was appropriate to start building toward something better. They went out and made a trade for one of the franchise’s top first basemen of all-time, John Olerud.
In exchange, the Mets sent Robert Person to the Blue Jays. It was an absolute steal of a trade considering what each played ended up doing in their new home.
It didn’t take long for Olerud to help turn the franchise in Flushing around. In year one wearing orange and blue, Olerud slashed .294/.400/.489. He added 22 home runs and 102 RBI while playing some stellar defense over at first base. In year two, Olerud set the franchise record with a .354 batting average.
During his three Mets seasons, Olerud gave the club a .315/.425/.501 performance complete with 63 home runs and 291 RBI. The only shame of this trade is that they weren’t able to keep him around longer. Olerud continued to play well for several more seasons as a member of the Seattle Mariners.
There’s no telling what may have happened in 2000 if the Mets had Olerud over at first base. With all due respect to Todd Zeile, Olerud was a better player at this point in their careers and possibly a missing chip for the pennant-winning team in 2000.