1) Mets bring in “The Kid,” aka future Hall of Famer Gary Carter
The Mets have had, by my estimate, three iconic catchers in their history: Jerry Grote, Mike Piazza, and Gary Carter. Of these three, Carter came to Flushing at perhaps the most perfect time. The Mets’ future was looking up after the emergence of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden in 1983 and 1984, respectively. But even in those years, they still had an obvious hole behind the plate.
All of that changed on December 10, 1984. The Mets acquired Carter from the Montreal Expos, where he had built a Hall of Fame-caliber resume, in exchange for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Willingham, and Floyd Youmans. According to a book by Jonah Keri, the Mets nearly included Mookie Wilson in that trade, which might have lessened its overall value somewhat. Luckily, the Mets hung on to Wilson throughout the 1980s and still managed to trade for Carter.
Carter brought instant gravitas to the organization, and his confident play and clutch hitting helped vault the Mets into contention almost immediately. His walk-off home run against former Met (and Keith Hernandez trade partner) Neil Allen on Opening Day in 1985 quickly made him a hero in New York. Undoubtedly his most important on-field moment in Flushing was his single to begin the fabled 10th-inning rally of Game 6 in the 1986 World Series.
Carter enjoyed several more solid years in New York before signing with the San Francisco Giants for the 1990 season. He finished his career in 1992 where it had all started, in Montreal with the Expos.
So, what premier talent did the Expos get in return for Carter? Brooks had some successful seasons in Montreal, even notching a top-20 finish in MVP voting in 1985, but his career overall was not nearly as memorable as Carter’s. No one else in the trade came close to making up the value that Carter had provided to the Expos for a decade.
As many Mets fans have recited fondly to their friends over and over, acquiring Carter was the final piece of the puzzle for creating the World Championship 1986 roster. Fingers crossed that the Mets will soon be acquiring another “final piece” en route to their next World Series title.
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All five of these trades brought in pieces that became integral parts of Mets playoff runs. The Mets have been on the short end of plenty of trades in their history, but sometimes lost in the shuffle of the “Midnight Massacre” of 1977 and the lopsided trade of Nolan Ryan in 1971 are the many outstanding trades that this team has made. April may be the cruelest month, as the poem goes, but December certainly hasn’t been the cruelest month for the Amazins.