On October 7th, 2009 the New York Mets traded Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Chris Carter and first baseman Eddie Lora.
At the time of the trade it was clear the Mets were mostly making a salary dump for Wagner, but things turned out even worse than expected for the Mets. Chris Carter looked like he would turn into a solid bench player and Eddie Lora at least looked like a first baseman with some power potential, but less than two years later both players acquired are no longer part of the organization.
In 100 games with the Mets in 2010 Carter was okay and hit .263/.317/.389 with four home runs and 24 RBIs. In the off-season the Mets decided to non-tender Carter in order to avoid paying him $200,000 plus his minor league salary and Carter decided to sign a minor league deal with the Rays, where he is thriving this year. Carter was exciting to watch in his limited time with the Mets, but didn’t produce enough to make the trade worth it.
To turn this trade into a complete bust, the Mets released Eddie Lora from the organization earlier this week after he hit .088 in 34 at-bats in rookie ball last year.
Onto what the Red Sox got out of the deal that makes the deal really sting.
Wagner was great down the stretch for the Red Sox in 2009 going 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA and striking out 22 men in 13.2 innings. Wagner wasn’t as sensational in the Angels sweep of the Red Sox in the ALDS, but he wasn’t terrible either, as it was two inherited runners Jonathan Papelbon allowed to score that inflated Wagner’s ERA.
But that is not all.
The Red Sox offered Wagner salary arbitration after the season and when he signed with the Atlanta Braves received the 20th and 39th overall picks in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft. With those picks the Red Sox selected Kolbrin Vitek and Anthony Ranaudo.
Vitek has looked like nothing special early on, but Ranaudo ranks as the Red Sox No. 2 prospect according to SoxProspects.com, is one of the top pitching prospects in all of the minor leagues, and is one of the few prospects with legitimate “ace” starting pitching potential.
Had the Mets held onto Wagner they most likely would not have even offered Wagner arbitration and cited Billy’s request not to offer him arbitration so he is more attractive to a potential suitor as the reason, when it was pretty clear they did not want to have to pay more first round draft picks, already holding the No. 7 overall pick in the draft who was due for big payday. And on the off chance they did offer Wagner the arbitration and received the compensation picks I highly doubt they would have drafted Ranaudo because of his high price tag.
Nonetheless, it was money saving moves like this from Omar and the Wilpons that have prevented the Mets farm system from flourishing and becoming top notch. If the Mets could have paired up Ranaudo and Harvey from the 2010 draft they would have two starters in the minors right now with top of the rotation potential who were breezing through the minors.
It sucks to look back and imagine “what could have been”.
Photo courtesy AP Photo/Rob Carr