The popularity of a player can sometimes convince the front office it’s better to sign a guy than to let him walk away. The New York Mets are guilty of occasionally signing a player for this reason and then eating a lot of money when he tails off.
In other instances, the Mets moved on from free agents who looked like they were in their prime but apparently weren’t. A mix of injuries and off-the-field issues made the decision to move on from these three players easier.
1) Darryl Strawberry left the NY Mets and things quickly fall apart
After the 1990 season, Darryl Strawberry left the Mets for his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s a little hard to fully grasp how big of a star Strawberry was in the 1980s if you weren’t around for. Few players in Mets history compare to the stature he was able to reach. Maybe his 252 home runs with the Mets in eight seasons or All-Star selections every season from 1984-1990 with the team can help represent what a talented player he was.
Strawberry’s first year with the Dodgers was a success. He put up similar numbers from his prime years with the Mets. Unfortunately, drug abuse and injuries caught up to him. Strawberry played in only 43 games in 1992 and another 32 for the Dodgers in 1993. He wasn’t able to finish his contract with the team. The Dodgers released him in late May after he failed to show up for a game. He had a short stint with the San Francisco Giants in the 1994 season and returned to the field in 1995 as a member of the New York Yankees following a suspension for cocaine.
Strawberry would become a redemption story in his final years while participating as a part-time player for the Yankees from 1995-1999. Those latter seasons didn’t compare to his Hall of Fame track he was on early on with the Mets. Life for him and the Mets could’ve been much different if he stayed in Queens. We’ll never know for sure. We can just be happy Strawberry seems to have turned his life around for the better.