It’s one thing to trade a prospect. It’s another to deal away a veteran who just isn’t working out. It’s a whole new ballgame when a team deals away a guy who immediately becomes an impact on his ball club. The New York Mets have been savvy enough to avoid this in their history, right? We wish.
Looking exclusively at younger players who had much more to offer, the Mets ended up sending these five packing too soon. In fact, all of them showed marked improvement immediately upon joining their new ball club.
Which of these trades was the most devastatingly bad example of trading a player too early in his career?
1) NY Mets traded Nolan Ryan too early in his career
The Nolan Ryan trade is a great contender for the worst deal the Mets have ever made. Only the Tom Seaver trade trumps it because of what he meant to the ball club and how senseless it was. We can look at Ryan’s performance and understand the logic behind trading him. He was averaging over 6 walks per 9 innings during his time in New York. Compared to his 8.7 strikeouts per 9, they almost canceled each other out.
Ryan was a wild thing long before Ricky Vaughn was a thought in a screenplay. The potential was always there. Unfortunately, the Mets saw the need to send the future all-time strikeout king to the California Angels on December 10, 1971, in a four for one deal which landed them Jim Fregosi.
Take away the symbolism of what Seaver meant to the Mets and this trade easily tops it. Fregosi was the ultimate Mets bust. Ryan, only one year after leaving the Mets, went 19-16 with a 2.28 ERA.
The Ryan Express never looked back after leaving the Mets. Although he was known for his strikeouts, the man deserves a ton of credit for run prevention. Even with the Mets, it wasn’t until his final season in 1993 when he had an ERA over 4.00. He was already 46. Imagine if he had stuck around in New York and got the coaching he needed. There’d be a 1973 World Series Championship pennant waving at Citi Field and maybe more.