4) NY Mets Worst Trade Deadline Deals: Jeff Kent to the Cleveland Indians for Carlos Baerga
Jeff Kent spent parts of five years with the Mets, hit 67 home runs, and accumulated a .279 batting average. This wasn’t half-bad for a second baseman. Unfortunately, on July 29, 1996, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians along with Jose Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza.
Kent didn’t hit well for the Indians in 1996. It took him until 1997 to bloom into one of the league’s best power hitters; then a member of the San Francisco Giants. What if the Mets had held onto him a little longer?
Espinoza is almost irrelevant in this move because he only spent the half-season in New York. Although he hit well, we remember this trade for the acquisition of Carlos Baerga.
It’s hard to believe Baerga was ever an awesome player. A three-time All-Star before putting on the orange and blue, he ended up as a major disappointment. In 1996, he batted .193 in 91 trips to the plate. Things did get slightly better over the next two seasons. However, nothing of what he did compared to his early Indians days of hitting 15+ home runs and driving in over 100 runs.
Like a future Indians second baseman the team would acquire via trade (Roberto Alomar), Baerga’s overall Mets numbers aren’t too terrible. It’s the high expectations we had for him that makes this so bad. Baerga was closer to average than anything else. And knowing the team could have potentially kept Kent instead—there are no all-age-appropriate words for it.