Everyone thinks of the New York Mets as a franchise that has made plenty of bad trades through the years.  And when the team has traded Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, it is hard to argue with that line of thinking.  But you know what?  The New York Mets have made many more good trades than bad.  Don’t believe me?  Well, then I will put together two lists of the best trades ever made by the New York Mets.

20. Bill Denehy and $100,000 to the Washington Senators for Gil Hodges – Usually it is not a good idea to trade anything for a manager.  But the Mets traded a scrub pitcher and cash to get the man who led the franchise to not only its first winning season, but who was the driving force behind the 1969 Miracle Mets.

19. Tommy Davis, Jack Fisher and two others to the Chicago White Sox for Tommie Agee and Al Weis – Davis was an excellent ballplayer and lasted longer in the Major League than either of the players the New York Mets received in return.  But the simple fact is that in this trade, the Mets received two players who played pivotal roles in their 1969 World Series win.  Agee was a Gold Glove center fielder who hit 26 homers in ’69 and made the famous catches in the World Series while Weis was a utility player with no power who decided to go 5-11 with a homer in the win over the Orioles.

18. Tom Parsons to the Houston Astros for Jerry Grote – If you never heard of Jerry Grote and just took a look at his stats right now, you would not be impressed.  But Grote was an excellent defensive catcher, a two-time All-Star and the team’s starter behind the plate for 11 of his 12 full seasons with the club.  That’s a pretty good haul for a guy who never played in the Major Leagues after the trade.

17. Robert Person and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for John Olerud – Olerud hit .363 one year for Toronto and then management soured on him because he didn’t do that every season.  With the Mets, Olerud was outstanding both offensively and defensively.  He even turned in a .354 average in the middle of his three seasons with the club.  The only reason this trade doesn’t rank higher is because he left as a free agent to go home to Seattle and the club didn’t do anything with its compensation picks.  Olerud was a break in the mediocrity that the New York Mets have trotted out at first base since injuries slowed Keith Hernandez.  In the 20 years since Hernandez, Olerud has been the only bright spot at the position.

16. Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves for Felix Millan and George Stone – Millan and Stone played key roles for the 1973 squad that made it to the World Series.  Millan was a solid starter for four-plus seasons for the club and even drew some MVP votes in 1973.  Stone is largely forgotten these days.  There are six entries under that name in Wikipedia and while two of them are athletes, none of them are for the pitcher who went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA and who gave up just one run in 9.2 innings during the playoffs.  Meanwhile, Gentry’s promising career was derailed by injury and Frisella’s career tragically cut short with his death in a dune buggy accident.

15. Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Sid Fernandez – Fernandez was a two-time All-Star, one of the top strikeout pitchers in the league and a player who consistently put up outstanding ERAs for a decade with the New York Mets.  And all it took to get him was a utility player and a lefty reliever whose claim to fame was his “Staten Island sinker” a pitch he apparently left in the borough after he was traded.

14. Four players to the Montreal Expos for Donn Clendenon – One of the players traded was Steve Renko, who turned into a pretty decent pitcher.  But Clendenon was a crucial late-season addition for the 1969 championship team.  He hit 12 homers in 202 at-bats for the Mets that year and then won the World Series MVP Award with a .357/.438/1.071 line.  Clendenon also turned in the second-best year of his career in 1970 for the Mets and drew votes in MVP balloting.

13. An eight-player deal with the Boston Red Sox for Bobby Ojeda – After two seasons of just missing the playoffs in the pre-Wild Card days, the New York Mets shipped some young players to the Red Sox for veteran pitcher Bobby Ojeda following the 1985 season.  In the championship year of 1986, Ojeda finished second in the league with a 2.57 ERA and was third in the NL with 18 wins.  He also won Game 3 of the World Series when the Mets entered the contest down two games to none.  And if that wasn’t enough, the Mets sent Calvin Schiraldi to Boston in this trade, which had some nice benefits in Game 6.

12. Gerald Young and Mitch Cook to the Astros for Ray Knight – Any time you can trade two scrubs for a player who wins the World Series MVP, that’s a pretty good deal.  Young scratched out an eight-year career in the majors, but the New York Mets were quite happy with Ray Knight in 1986, when he hit .298 during the regular season and then put up a .391/.440/.565 line in the World Series.  Knight left following the 1986 season, signing as a free agent with the Orioles.  The Mets used the compensation draft pick the following year to sign Todd Hundley, who had several productive seasons for the team.

11. A three-team deal with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers that netted Armando Benitez and Roger Cedeno – It may be weird to see this on the list, as Benitez and Cedeno were the subject of tons of boos from the Shea faithful over the years.  But all they gave up was the equally unpopular Todd Hundley and a minor league pitcher who never made it.  Hundley’s best days were behind him while the Mets got two All-Star seasons out of Benitez and the best year of Roger Cedeno’s 11-year career.  This trade gets bonus points for being a three-team deal in an era where that almost never happened plus their ability to leverage Cedeno in the next deal.

And that ladies and gentleman is the tease for the next article, which will list trades 10 through one on the list of all-time best New York Mets trades.

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