We all know what the worst trade the New York Mets have ever made with the Cincinnati Reds. It occurred in 1977 when Tom Seaver was sent packing.
The two clubs have made some other significant moves over the years. The best happened in December of 1989.
The deal would go on to benefit both clubs. For the Mets, they landed one of the all-time fan-favorites, too. John Franco was coming home.
The best Mets trade with the Reds made John Franco the team’s closer
Franco had enjoyed a lot of success with the Reds prior to joining the Mets for the 1990 season. Along with Don Brown, the Mets gave up Kip Gross and Randy Myers to get him. Myers would go on to have a productive big league career as a closer, too. If he stayed with the Mets, who knows what would have happened?
Franco was an All-Star in his first year with the Mets, successfully saving a league-leading 33 games and posting a 2.53 ERA. He would actually never again make the All-Star team despite some really good years. In 1996, for instance, he had a 1.83 ERA. But because there were some better closers out there and the Mets had some hitters with All-Star numbers, he was passed over.
From 1990-2004, Franco was a member of the Mets franchise. He moved from the closer role in the latter part of the decade during the time when Armando Benitez was giving us heart attacks.
Franco would end up with 276 Mets saves and a 3.10 ERA as a member of the team. As a New Yorker, he fit right in. His presence was so important that for the last year he was with the club he was even named team captain.
This trade may have benefitted both teams and it was hardly a steal by New York. For what Franco gave them and what he meant to so many fans, it’ll go down as the best between these squads.
Honorable mention Mets trades with the Reds
There are two trades deserving of an honorable mention.
In 1967, Bob Johnson was sent to the Reds for Art Shamsky. Another guy who has become an important member of the Mets off the field, he was also a critical part of their 1969 run to the World Series.
Many years later, in 1998, the Mets traded John Hudek for Lenny Harris. The king of pinch hitting, he was a decent role-player for the club that year. More importantly, it was his first stint with the club. Harris would later return in mid-2000 and have a much better season for the World Series-bound Metropolitans.