Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar have an opportunity to become members of the next great offseason in New York Mets history. At the time of putting this list together, they have yet to play a game for the franchise. Until they do and the final numbers are tallied, the excitement of what they can bring to the 2022 Mets and beyond will have to go on hold.
Time will tell for them. For now, we have to go back a couple of years to answer the question: what are the best offseasons in Mets history?
5) 1995-1996 Mets offseason included some temporary talent and a hidden gem
Between the shortened 1995 season and the start of the 1996 campaign, the Mets got busy. The franchise had not made the postseason since falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 NLCS. They were hoping to make the right moves to become relevant again between the dog days of the early 1990s and the strike that turned so many away in 1994-1995.
The Mets actually made what we could call four significant transactions in this offseason. They brought them temporary players with a good season or two in them. Another flew way under the radar and would end up becoming an all-time franchise steal. Let’s start there because it was the first in the chronology.
In early November, the Mets took a chance and signed Rick Reed. A bit of a journeyman at this point and now in his 30s, things were not supposed to go as well for Reed as they did. He dazzled in Triple-A during the 1996 season then won a rotation spot the following season. He would go on to spend parts of five seasons with the team, going 59-36 with a 3.66 ERA.
About a month later, the Mets made a more high-profile signing. They brought in speedy outfielder Lance Johnson through free agency. Johnson would set a new franchise record with 227 hits in a year which saw him hit .333/.362/.479. His time with the franchise was short-lived but we’ll always have that amazing 1996 campaign to look back at.
Speaking of important pieces on the 1996 team, in January they brought in Bernard Gilkey in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. It cost them Yudith Ozario, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick. Just like Johnson, Gilkey had an amazing season for the 1996 Mets. He hit 30 home runs, drove in 117, and set a franchise record with 44 doubles.
As if this wasn’t enough, the Mets made a trade with the Cleveland Indians a day before Opening Day. In exchange for Ryan Thompson and Reid Cornelius, the club got starting pitcher Mark Clark. He would end up traded the following summer along with Johnson but not before going a respectable 22-18 with a 3.76 ERA for the team.