May 27, 2024

Yankees and Mets Trade History: Limited Dealings Between Cross-town Rivals

The historical trade relationship between the New York Yankees and the Mets has been characterized by a scarcity of transactions, reflecting a perceived cautious approach by both franchises. While the rivalry between the two teams may seem overstated to some, their trading behavior suggests a more serious undertone.

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Over the 60-plus years of the Mets’ existence, only 16 trades have taken place between the crosstown rivals, and none of them have been blockbuster deals. Despite the limited quantity, there are a few noteworthy trades featuring interesting player exchanges.

One highlight in the trade history occurred on December 7, 2001, when the Yankees traded David Justice to the Mets in exchange for Robin Ventura. This one-for-one veteran swap, driven by George Steinbrenner’s desire to part ways with Justice after a disappointing 2001 season, turned out to be a positive move for both teams. Ventura, a slick-fielding third baseman, outperformed Justice in 2002 with an .826 OPS and earned a spot on the American League All-Star team. Justice, in turn, became a focus of Moneyball after being traded to the A’s.

On the flip side, the most recent trade between the Yankees and Mets on April 3, 2022, involving Miguel Castro and Joely Rodríguez, is considered the worst trade. The Yankees, showing a strong preference for Castro, traded away Rodríguez, a left-handed pitcher who had displayed solid performance with a 154 ERA+ in 2021. While Castro outpitched Rodríguez in 2022, the trade raised eyebrows, and the success of the Miguel Castro Experiment remains to be seen.

A peculiar trade from July 1972 adds an element of mystery to the history. The Yankees sent Tommie Sheppard to the Montreal Expos, who then sent Dave McDonald to the New York Mets. The lack of clarity on what the Yankees gained in this deal, likely involving minor leaguers and possibly cash, makes it the weirdest trade in their shared history.

Exploring the broader trend, the reluctance to engage in frequent trades may stem from a certain level of fear or caution on both sides. Franchises, wary of public perception, might be hesitant to “lose” a trade when the outcomes are readily apparent to their fanbases. The Mets and Yankees have made only 16 trades over the years, fewer than other pairs of teams sharing the same city for much longer periods. Whether this caution is driven by the fear of a traded player succeeding with the rival team or reluctance to part with valuable prospects remains unclear. Even with changes in ownership and leadership, the trade relationship between the Yankees and Mets has remained notably reserved, with the Castro/Rodríguez swap being the sole trade between the two teams in the past 19 years.

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