First, this may not actually be the worst trade for a reliever in New York Mets history. Trades for relievers are so incredibly common that it’s quite possible something fell through the cracks. However, when looking for a bad Mets trade to acquire a bullpen arm, one immediately came to mind.
It was July 31, 1999 when the Mets called up the Oakland Athletics. Hoping to end their playoff drought, the Mets acquired Oakland’s closer Billy Taylor. He was 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA and 26 saves at the time of the deal.
The price tag wasn’t too outrageous. Greg McMichael and failed starter Jason Isringhausen went the other way. Unfortunately, the deal backfired quickly in both ways any deal can.
The worst Mets trade for a relief pitcher landed them a dud and cost them a future star closer
Let’s begin with what the Mets got. Taylor was a bust in New York. In 18 games and 13.1 innings of work, Taylor was 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA. He had back-to-back appearances in August where he gave up a combined 5 earned runs without recording a single out. Taylor's performance was bad enough to keep him off of the Mets playoff roster.
The loss of McMichael wasn’t great but giving up on Isringhausen when they did turned out to be a major mistake.
Isringhausen had already been a failed starter in Queens and had just started his transition to the bullpen in an attempt to salvage any of his talent. It wasn’t working out but he seemed like a new man in Oakland. Isringhausen became their closer in 2000 while Taylor had already left the Mets. His best years would come later on as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. In seven seasons with them he saved 217 games and pitched to a 2.98 ERA.
Some trades are lost by landing a player who doesn’t perform. Others are worthy of the L because of what was given up. In this instance, it’s both. The Mets would have been better off keeping McMichael and Isringhausen. It is, of course, all with the benefit of hindsight. It doesn’t make this trade any better.