12) NY Mets worst free agent signing: Bernard Gilkey
The trade to get Bernard Gilkey to New York was brilliant. The Mets traded Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick to the St. Louis Cardinals for him. Gilkey was fantastic in that first year. His 1996 campaign is regarded as one of the best by a Mets hitter of any era. The numbers hold up even today with Gilkey smacking 44 doubles, 30 home runs, and driving in 117 all with a .317/.393/.562 slash line.
Gilkey was able to turn that great year into a four-year contract worth $20.4 million. Again, remember how much lower player salaries were back then. This was a pricey free agent signing.
The monster year in 1996 would not continue into 1997. Gilkey hit only .249/.338/.417. His home runs dropped down to 18 and he drove in 78 runs. It was not what the Mets were hoping for.
In 1998, the Mets ended up trading him mid-year to the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time, Gilkey was slashing .227/.317/.330 with only four home runs in 305 plate appearances. As quickly as they were able to re-sign him, the Mets appeared ready to move on. He headed to the Diamondbacks along with Nelson Figueroa in exchange for Willie Blair, Jorge Fabregas, and some cash.