10) NY Mets Worst Trades: Jeff Kent goes to Cleveland for Carlos Baerga
Prior to Francisco Lindor joining the Mets, the trade history with the Cleveland Indians has been centered on two major deals involving second basemen. We already covered the Roberto Alomar trade. That one was bad but not so devastating because it didn’t cost the team a whole lot in terms of young talent.
This 1996 trade with Cleveland was a bit worse. Occurring on July 29, 1996, infielders Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino were dealt to the Indians for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza. Vizcaino would continue to have a good yet not great big league career, possibly even highlighted by a big hit against the Mets in the 2000 World Series. Espinoza was good for a bad Mets club in 1996 but retired after the 1997 campaign.
This trade is focused on Kent and Baerga. Either one you want to headline the move, it was a raw deal for the orange and blue.
In 1997, Kent went from a good second baseman to the eighth-place MVP vote-getter. In 2000, he would win the award during a stretch which saw him hit 20+ home runs and drive in 100 from 1997-2002. One of the greatest offensive second basemen in the history of baseball, one has to wonder if the Mets traded him a little too prematurely.
The other big half of this trade, Baerga, was actually quite the opposite of Kent. He had been an All-Star second baseman multiple times already. Unfortunately, those days were long in the past. He hit just .193 in 1996 and despite raising it up to .281 in 1997, he was a big disappointment.
There is just way too much in common with Alomar for Baerga. How they got to the Mets and how, in retrospect, their numbers weren’t legendarily bad, this one is far worse because of what left the Amazins.