In the summer of 2000, one of the helpful trades made by the New York Mets brought Rick White to Flushing. Although forgotten, it was a fine trade.
On July 28, 2000, the New York Mets made headlines by acquiring Baltimore Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick in a trade that sent several players over to the American League East. Most notably, Melvin Mora’s career with the Orioles was set to begin.
I’m not here to dwell on that deal. I’ve written about it already. Instead, it’s another often-forgotten trade that same day I want to take a look at. It’s one made between the Mets and Tampa Bay Rays which brought relief pitcher Rick White to Flushing.
The deal was simple enough. Two players in the Mets organization went to the Rays and two players from Tampa Bay would join New York.
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Along with White, Bubba Trammel put on the orange and blue for the remainder of 2000. Going in the opposite direction were Jason Tyner and Paul Wilson.
For some reason, I always thought Wilson had stayed with the Mets much longer than he actually did. Other than 1996, he never pitched a single game for them. While he did have some success with the Rays and Cincinnati Reds, he was nothing more than a fifth starter in a good year.
Tyner, while he wasn’t signing my Brent Abernathy baseball cards by accident, enjoyed a career in the major leagues spent mostly as a reserve player. He stole 31 bases in 2001 while hitting .280. He would post high batting average numbers a few more times yet he never seemed to receive regular playing time, most likely due to his incredible lack of power.
Then there was Trammell and White, attorneys at law. Trammell slashed .232/.323/.429 for the Mets in 2000 as a bench player. He had a nice showing in the World Series, driving in three runs in only 7 plate appearances.
Once again, however, this is about White and what he did for the 2000 Mets.
In my recent examination of the importance Turk Wendell provided the team in their pennant-winning season of 2000, I saw just how poorly the bullpen performed all year long. The Mets didn’t have a lights out bullpen. Armando Benitez, John Franco, and Wendell were the only three regular relievers with the team all year long who posted an ERA below 4.00.
In retrospect, it’s clear why the Mets needed some relief help.
White was 3-6 with a 3.41 ERA as a member of the Rays at the time of the trade. He was often used in a multi-inning capacity, tossing 71.1 innings across 44 games prior to the deal. This was how he was often used while in Tampa Bay. He reached 108 innings a year prior in only 63 games, just one of which came as a starter.
White wasn’t a long man out of the bullpen. This was a role used mostly by fellow Mets reliever, Pat Mahomes. White ended up giving the club 28.1 innings over the course of 22 relief appearances. The result was a 3.81 ERA which wasn’t so bad when compared to the rest of the bullpen.
In Game 3 of the NLDS, with the series knotted up at 1-1, White was the man who helped finish off the San Francisco Giants. He pitched the final two frames of the game that took the two teams into the 13th inning.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t nearly as successful in his other two postseason series that year.
In rare form for him, White actually returned to the Mets in 2001. This is a man who played 12 MLB seasons and would never again pitch two consecutive years with the same ball club. He bounced around a lot and it was only ever once again via trade.
In 2001, White went 4-5 with a 3.88 ERA. For the Mets, this season was far less remarkable than the one prior. The team finished 82-80 in a disappointment step backward from their 2000 World Series appearance.
The trade for White wasn’t flashy, franchise-changing, or even a steal. It did, however, serve as a reminder of all those little deals that take place in building a team.
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Most Mets fans wouldn’t even remember White’s team with the club and I don’t blame anyone who has no clue who he was. But like Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and other relievers who joined the franchise midseason via trade, White played an important part.