One might think the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates have made more trades than they actually have. Although numerous deals have been struck between the two, not too many have been notably good for New York.
The best Mets trade with the Pirates was a more recent one. After the 2015 season ended, Daniel Murphy entered free agency. The Mets had a hole at second base. They filled it with Neil Walker.
The swap was a simple one-for-one. In exchange for Walker, the Mets gave the Pirates starting pitcher Jon Niese. Expendable because of all of the other options they already had on the roster, it turned out to be an even better deal for New York.
The best Mets trade with the Pirates was the one for Neil Walker
In a Mets career that spanned only a season and a half, Walker posted some pretty good numbers. His 2016 season—the only complete one—included an impressing 23 home runs in only 458 plate appearances. Walker was never known for his power, once before reaching 23 but in more than 100 more chances back in 2014.
Walker wasn’t just hitting for power either. Slashing .282/.347/.476 in 2016, he helped ease the pain of watching Murphy finish second in the MVP race with the Washington Nationals.
As good as Walker was for the Mets is about as poorly as Niese performed with the Pirates. He logged 110 innings for them as a starter and reliever. These resulted in an 8-6 record but a 4.91 ERA. Amazingly enough, Niese was traded back to the Mets in 2016 for Antonio Bastardo. He’d pitch only 11 innings for them. Those final big league innings of his career included an 11.45 ERA.
Honorable mention Mets trades with the Pirates
All things considered, the 2004 trade with the Pirates for Kris Benson wasn’t so bad. They got him and Jeff Keppinger in exchange for Matt Peterson, Jose Bautista, and Ty Wigginton. Bautista was years away from reaching his zenith. It was time to move on from Wigginton for the sake of starting David Wright.
With a little more research, there is a more distant trade to acknowledge as well. In December of 1966, Gary Kolb and Dennis Ribant were traded to Pittsburgh for Don Bosch and Don Cardwell. The two players the Mets gave up (Kolb and Ribant) hardly impacted Pittsburgh. The mafia-inspired players they received had some payoff with Cardwell performing well for them from 1967-1969.
The deal for Walker gets the win here. An underrated and short-term Mets player, it didn’t cost them much to rent him.