You know him. You love him. You’ve probably been blocked by him on Twitter. The best free agent signing of a third baseman in New York Mets history was Todd Frazier. Okay, that’s a nasty joke. Frazier was a fine Little League World Series graduate. He’s hardly the best free agent third baseman signing in Mets history.
This is an honor to bestow upon someone who predated him. Coming off of nearly making it to the 1998 postseason, the Mets added to the roster in December when they signed free agent third baseman Robin Ventura.
The best third baseman free agent signing in Mets history was Robin Ventura
Especially in his first season with the team, Ventura lived up to and even exceeded expectations. Listen to these numbers if someone is reading this to you right now as a bedtime story: Ventura slashed .301/.379/.529 with 32 home runs and 120 RBI. It was something Mets fans had rarely seen out of a third baseman. Only Howard Johnson had seasons like this before.
The monster year earned him a sixth-place finish in the MVP race. Ventura would also add a Gold Glove as part of probably the best defensive infield in Mets history.
The numbers did slide down in his next two years in Queens. Ventura would offer up a .777 OPS in 2000 and .778 in 2001 which were massively down from the .908 in 1999. His overall numbers with the Mets were still strong overall. The .260/.360/.468 slash line in three seasons is impressive to go along with superb defensive skills he’d often flash.
Beyond the numbers, Ventura provided a veteran presence in the locker room. He was one of the leaders of the team in those years. His tenure would end after the 2001 season when he was traded to the New York Yankees for David Justice—a guy the Mets would flip immediately in a separate deal to the Oakland Athletics.
Ventura’s time with the Mets was brief and yet all of these years later he remains the best free agent pickup at the position. The competition isn’t too hardy. Nonetheless, Mets fans remember Ventura fondly. His grand slam single in the 1999 NLCS remains a favorite moment among fans of a certain age.