The New York Mets have very rarely been buyers at the trade deadline over the last 20 years or so. One of these rare instances came in 2015, the year they would eventually go to the World Series. That trade deadline is the best in the history of the franchise. Not only was it the most dramatic leading up to the final days, but it gave us a player that would eventually be one of the main centerpieces of the team’s NL pennant run.
What could’ve been would’ve been disappointing for the Mets
I bet if I ask any Mets fan, they’d be able to tell me where they were during the Wilmer Flores crying game. It’s such an iconic moment for me personally.
It’s July 29, 2015 and the Mets are playing the Padres at home, two days before the trade deadline. Rumors are swirling around the ballpark that Wilmer and Zack Wheeler were set to be trade to the Milwaukee Brewers for All Star outfielder Carlos Gomez. Wilmer is left in the game and is famously crying in the field over the prospect of being traded.
Hours later, it comes out that the deal would not go through due to concerns over a hip injury that Gomez had been dealing with. A couple days later, Flores would hit a walk off home run against the Nationals in dramatic fashion.
As far as Gomez, I contend that if the trade had gone through, the Mets wouldn’t have made it to the World Series. Gomez was coming off two All Star seasons, but he was having a significantly down year.
Through 74 games, he had 8 home runs, 43 RBIs and was only hitting .262. After being traded to the Astros that year, his production would drop off even further. In 41 games, he hit .242 with 4 home runs and 13 RBIs. Gomez would end up getting released the following year by the Astros.
As a cynical Mets fan, I know it’s always possible that he could’ve come over and his hip injury could’ve gotten worse to the point where he didn’t play. As a regular baseball fan, it was easy to see that Gomez’s production just wasn’t there compared to his two prior All Star seasons. The trade wouldn’t have been worth it.
What actually happened was something special
On July 31, 2015, the Mets traded pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for talented outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Mets fans had grown familiar with Cespedes after he won the Home Run Derby at Citi Field in 2013. Little did we know just how deep his talent ran.
Yoenis immediately made an impact on a lineup that had trouble generating runs that year. Through his first 41 games with the team, he hit .309 with 17 home runs 42 RBIs with a .691 slugging percentage.
His major coming out party with the team came on August 21 against the Rockies. Cespedes was a triple shy of the cycle, and finished 5-6 with 3 home runs. The immense power and dynamic athleticism was something unlike anything the Mets had seen in their lineup in years, and it finally gave the big bopper that the lineup desperately was missing.
His work in the stretch run toward the playoffs was just as impressive. He took home the NL Player of the Week award for the week of September 7-13 after hitting .345 with 4 home runs, 6 runs scored, 12 RBIs and a 1.263 OPS. That performance helped the Mets stretch their lead over the Nationals in the NL East to 9.5 games.
Having the presence of Cespedes in the lineup was purely enough to create better opportunities for other guys to thrive in the lineup as well. The threat of his bat provided great protection for guys like Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson while making their lineup deeper.
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His performance in the World Series was obviously not as good as we expected, as he only batted .150 with no extra base hits. However, to this day I will say that without Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets wouldn’t have made it to the 2015 World Series.