The 3 biggest Mets trades ever made with the Tigers

The three most significant trades ever made between the Mets and Tigers.
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The Detroit Tigers are one of those ancient ball clubs who should have a long track record of making trades with non-rivals. Surprisingly, the New York Mets and Tigers don’t have a vast history of making deals. In fact, we’re closing in on a full decade since they last made a trade with each other.

Although the number of trades between the two clubs isn’t plentiful, there are three big ones that helped alter the direction of at least one of the franchises involved.

Our story begins in 1975 when the Mets were on the losing side.

1) The Mets trade Rusty Staub to the Tigers for a pitcher who didn’t want to be here

Pre-Midnight Massacre, the Mets were already shipping away some fan favorites. This trade took place on December 12, 1975 and included outfielder Rusty Staub and pitcher Bill Laxton going to Detroit in exchange for Billy Baldwin and Mickey Lolich. The deal is much more Staub for Lolich than anything else. It’s a deal that, in retrospect, seems pointless in a lot of ways given how strong the Mets pitching staff already was and how much they needed Staub in the lineup.

After four productive years with the Mets, Staub went to Detroit and had an immediate impact. He continued to be a force in the lineup and even managed to earn his way onto the 1976 American League All-Star roster. In 1978, his last full year with the Tigers, he finished fifth in the MVP vote.

Back in New York, Lolich put together a productive 1976 season. The 8-13 record was in part a result of low run support. His 3.22 ERA attests to this. Already unhappy with being traded away from the Tigers in the first place, Lolich’s one year with the Mets offered no new pleasures. He would actually retire for the 1977 season to get out of his contract with the Mets and return in 1978 mostly as a reliever with the San Diego Padres.

A fan favorite for a guy who was miserable with the Mets. It didn’t have any playoff implications and yet it feels like a major loss for the Amazins.