How does one pick the worst New York Mets trade for a starting pitcher? There have been some absolutely dud deals over the years. The worst requires us to look a little further than the back of the baseball card.
On December 12, 1975, the Mets traded fan-favorite Rusty Staub and Bill Laxton to the Detroit Tigers for Billy Baldwin and Mickey Lolich. From a bigger perspective, it was Staub for Lolich.
Staub was coming off of a productive season with the Mets with a 14th place in the MVP race. Lolich was good for the Tigers in 1975 but nowhere close to his earlier years when he challenged for the Cy Young. How the two performed after the deal and one unhappy player made this one of the worst Mets trades.
Why the worst NY Mets trade for a starting pitcher was for Mickey Lolich
Lolich wasn’t bad in 1976 for the Mets. At 8-13 with a 3.22 ERA, he was a victim of a whole lot of poor run-support. Meanwhile, Staub was an All-Star for the Tigers in 1976. He batted .299/.386/.433 for them and would remain in Detroit through the middle of 1979. He had 101 RBI in 1977 and a career-best 121 in 1978.
This, alone, makes the Tigers the winners in this deal. What happened between Lolich and the coaching staff in New York is what made the Mets losers.
Lolich was so unhappy with the situation that he retired after the season only to return in 1978 to pitch mostly in relief for the San Diego Padres for two more seasons. He originally vetoed the trade, setting up for an unhappy relationship before it even began.
The Mets got just one year from Lolich while the Tigers got a few very good ones from Staub. He’d end up traded to the Montreal Expos in July of 1979, ending his Detroit tenure.
Is this the worst Mets trade for a starting pitcher the team has ever made? Considering they gave up one of their best offensive players, it’s up there. Another good contender could be the 2004 deal which sent pitching prospect Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. Another awful trade, the thought that Lolich was a good fit in New York well into his 30s gets the slight edge over a poor trade deadline desperation deal.