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Mets Thursday Therapy: When your ex is better with a rival

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 03: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the top of the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on April 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 03: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the top of the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on April 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Losing a stud player to free agency only to see him develop into so much more is never easy. It’s even harder when he does it with a division rival. In recent years, we have seen several former New York Mets leave the Big Apple for greener pastures with an NL East foe.

I know every franchise faces this problem. This doesn’t make it any easier when players trade in their orange and blue for a hated color.

Former Mets who have found recent success elsewhere in the NL East

After the 2015 season, the Mets had some major free agents coming off the books. They managed to sign several—including Yoenis Cespedes—but let one notable player walk away, Daniel Murphy.

Murphy was an absolute stud for the Mets in the 2015 postseason. He seemed to find his swing. Optimists believed he was about to have another fantastic year in 2016. They were right. The problem was he would do it with the Washington Nationals.

Murphy finished second in the MVP vote that year while hitting a robust .347. His time in Washington included a slash line of .329/.380/.550, 99 doubles, and 54 home runs. The result couldn’t have been more painful for the fans that wanted to see him return after the 2015 season.

I wish I could say he was the last of the recent former Mets to find success with other ball clubs. Travis d’Arnaud is another.

Although he first found his magic with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, d’Arnaud would go on to have a much more productive season with the 2020 Atlanta Braves. I understand the sample size wasn’t so great. Nevertheless, he hit .321 in his 184 plate appearances for Atlanta. Time will only tell us much this one hurts.

Finally, there’s Zack Wheeler. It made a lot of sense for the Mets to re-sign him after the 2019 season. Unlike d’Arnaud whose time with the Mets seemed to be up, Wheeler appeared to be coming into his own as a pitcher.

Instead of Wheeler, the Mets went cheap and signed Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to one-year deals. Wheeler landed with the Philadelphia Phillies where he has, at least so far, looked like the pitcher we always hoped he could become.

Again, there’s a problem. He’s not doing it while calling Queens home.

It was especially hurtful to see his first performance of 2021 as he rocked the Braves. Meanwhile, Mets fans are left hoping to just play a game.

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There’s no shortage of notable players the Mets have let go too soon. However, like a teen drama where the ex-girlfriend dumps the lead and ends up with a high school rival, these three instances were a little more brutal than others.

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