Three weeks from today, MLB will be in a frenzy, with teams scrambling to add and deal players in advance of that day's trade deadline. It marks the opportunity for contending teams to add impact talent for the stretch run, all while losing teams hope to acquire prospects and players that can help in future seasons.
Ideally, trades end up fair for all teams involved. In some cases, though, a young player is dealt away that can come back to haunt the fans and team that sent him packing.
Here are six players traded by the Mets who did just that...
Mitchell was signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1980. His one full season with them was in 1986, when he served mostly as a bench player. In 1987 he was traded to the Padres, who eventually dealt him to the Giants. In 1989, when finally given a chance to play every day at one position, Mitchell hit 47 home runs, made the All-Star team and won the National League MVP.
In 1986, he was mostly used off the bench and as utility player, despite having an .842 OPS, 33 extra base hits, 39 RBI and just 49 strikeouts in the 75 games he logged as a starter. Nevertheless, six weeks after celebrating the team's World Championship, Mitchell was traded by GM Frank Cashen for reportedly being a negative influence on Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden.
In return for Mitchell, Cashen acquired the quiet and stoic Kevin McReynolds, who in the five subsequent seasons hit 118 home runs, while helping the Mets reach the postseason just once.
In 1971, the Mets put 24-year-old in a package of players to acquire 30-year-old Angels 3B Jim Fregosi.
Up to that point, Ryan had made 74 starts for the Mets in five seasons, during which the franchise won its first World Series. In 74 starts and 10 relief appearances, Ryan had a 3.48 ERA and averaged less than one strikeout per inning.
Born and raised in Texas, Ryan is on record multiple times saying he never felt comfortable living and playing in New York. Not surprisingly, as soon as he put on another uniform, his career launched to legendary status.
By the time he retired in 1993, 27 years after making his big-league debut, Ryan had appeared in eight All-Star games, get in to the Hall of Fame and record 5,714 strikeouts, which continues to stand as the all-time record.
Meanwhile, Fregosi joined the Mets as a six-time All-Star having received dozens of MVP votes. However, he hit just .232 and five home runs in two injury-plagued seasons with the Mets, who eventually traded him to the Rangers.
Dykstra was a key player during the organization's push to win the 1986 World Championship. He was nicknamed "Nails" and widely viewed as a spark for the lineup.
Dykstra was drafted by the Mets in 1981 and hit .271 with 30 home runs in 544 games before being dealt with reliever Roger McDowell to the Phillies for 2B Juan Samuel.
In his eight seasons with the Phillies, Dykstra found a new home surrounded by similar rowdy, hard-nosed talent, such as Darren Daulton and John Kruk. With Philadelphia, Dykstra hit over .300 and had a .400 OBP three times, he received MVP votes, made four All Star teams and again reached the World Series.
Meanwhile, Samuel, who won Rookie of the Year in 1984, was highly touted by the Mets upon joining the organization. Unfortunately, he instantly looked intimidated by New York, played just 86 games for the Mets and hit a disappointing .228. He was also ripped endlessly by hosts and callers on the newly-launched WFAN.
Before being considered the league's top second baseman, Kent played second base for the Mets, who he joined at 24 years old in 1992 after being traded by the Blue Jays for David Cone
Kent hit just 67 home runs during his five seasons of inconsistent playing time with the Mets. He hit 138 home runs in his first five seasons with the Giants, where he ended up by way of the Indians, where he was first dealt by the Mets in 1996 for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza
Before the Mets traded Kent, reports indicated he was a divisive figure in the clubhouse. Like Samuel, he was a controversial name among fans and local radio hosts. Baerga joined the Mets as a 27-year-old, elite, All Star second baseman. However, he struggled with the Mets during his brief debut in late 1996. He was talked up by new GM Steve Phillips entering the 1997 season, but struggled mightily that season and in 1998, before his time with the Mets ended.
Meanwhile, Kent magically lost his attitude problem upon joining the Giants, after which he also spent time with the Astros and Dodgers. In the end, Kent would appear in five All-Star games, take home four Silver Slugger Awards and a a National League MVP, while retiring with 2,461 hits, 377 home runs and 1,518 RBI.
Bay was drafted by the Expos in 2000. He was traded two years later as a 23-year-old prospect to the Mets, who four months later dealt him to the Padres in a package for big-league pitchers.
It would be two more years, and a trade to the Pirates, before Bay realized his potential. Between 2004 and 2009, he won Rookie of the Year, hit .280, 181 home runs, 186 doubles, appeared in three All-Star games and reached the postseason two times with the Red Sox.
In 2010, coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Bay returned to the Mets -- signing a four-year, $66 million contract. The deal ended up being a total bust, during which Bay missed roughly 40 percent of his games due to injuries -- including a concussion. In more than 1,000 plate appearances, he hit just 26 home runs before being dealt to the Mariners. His last season played was in 2013.
Bell eventually became one of the best closers in baseball, but he began his with Mets, who repeatedly shuttled him back and forth between their Triple A team and Queens.
In fact, he was promoted and demoted so many times, I recall writing that the charter should be nicknamed the Heath Bell Express. Eventually, the Mets traded Bell and prospect Royce Ring to the Padres for outfielder Ben Johnson and pitcher Jon Adkins.
In three exhausting seasons with the Mets, Bell pitched in 80 games, closing just 20. He ended with a 4.92 ERA and hopefully an endless amount of travel points. The Padres used Bell in a similar role during his first two seasons there. However, the next three years he would dominate as their closer, locking down 132 games while striking out 216 batters in 202 innings. He made the All-Star team all three seasons and received votes for the Cy Young and MVP.
He parlayed his success in to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Marlins, with whom he struggled. He was eventually dealt to the Diamondbacks, who dealt him to the Rays, before he retired in 2014.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!