December 10 is a significant day in New York Mets history. It has been an especially active one for trades and free agency. Deep enough into the offseason and far away enough from the lull of the winter holidays at the end of the month, the day happens to feature the franchise’s worst trade ever and maybe their best—I haven’t decided yet on the latter.
December 10 is a dark and bright day in Mets trade history
The worst trade in Mets history took place on December 10, 1971. Three guys by the name of Leroy Stanton, Francisco Estrada, and Don Rose were traded to the California Angels for a broken version of Jim Fregosi.
They had company along the way, too. The fourth man in this trade was the legendary Nolan Ryan.
Ryan would go on to have a Hall of Fame career which included more strikeouts than anyone in the galaxy. I’ve watched enough Ancient Aliens to confirm this fact.
Meanwhile, Fregosi was gone midway through his second season with the team. Often injured, he wasn’t the All-Star quality player he was throughout the 1960s. Fregosi had become battered. The egg on the face of the Mets from this trade is still there to this day.
To make up for it, 13 years later, the team made another December 10 trade with some similarities. Again, they went out to acquire a veteran player. Costing them Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans, it was another four for one swap on the same exact date on the calendar.
However, the veteran star they got back had something left in the tank. Coming from the Montreal Expos was a man by the name of Gary Carter. You may be familiar with him. He was what many have referred to as the “missing piece” to the puzzle back in the 1980s.
This 1984 trade quickly turned the Mets from postseason hopefuls to serious contenders. Carter was not just an MVP-caliber player, he was also a leader for the organization. As short-lived as his success was, he had enough in him for the 1986 season to help lead the Mets—quite literally—to a championship. First, they had to get through Mike Scott and the Houston Astros in the NLCS. Scott, oddly enough, was another bad trade made by the Mets on December 10. This time, the Mets came away as the winner thanks to guys like Carter.
I haven’t yet decided if the Carter trade is the best the Mets have ever made. The positive effects aren’t fully shown because of how much he meant to the locker room. This is something nobody can measure on the back of a baseball card.
Nevertheless, December 10 remains significant. It’s the day one future Hall of Famer left Queens and several years later, another would join them.