The Evolution Of A Mets Championship Team

frank cashen davey johnson

There seems to be a lot buzz in our comment threads lately about former Mets GM Frank Cashen, who many fans, rightfully so, look to as the standard bearer when it comes to building a championship. While doing a search I came across a post about the evolution of the 1986 Mets that Newsday had posted back in 2010.

The following shows exactly how all the players from the Mets post season roster that year came to be acquired.

I broke it down to further illustrate how Cashen didn’t solely rely upon hoarding prospects as his means to an end. They surely helped, but had it not been for the trades that brought in many stars of their time, 1986 may have never happened.

Lets get to the list which I present in chronological order. The first three players were acquired before Frank Cashen was named general manager.

Essentially the team he inherited already had what would be his starting second baseman and center fielder, and his closer.

The Evolution of the 1986 Mets

June, 1977

Wally Backman, 2B: Drafted in first round

Mookie Wilson, LF: Drafted in second round

Dec. 8, 1978

Jesse Orosco, RP: Traded from Twins Feb. 7, 1979 to complete trade for Jerry Koosman

June, 1980

Darryl Strawberry, RF: Drafted in first round

June 10, 1980

Doug Sisk, RP: Signed as amateur free agent

November 1980

Kevin Mitchell, OF/INF: Signed as an amateur free agent

June 1981

Lenny Dykstra, OF: Drafted in 13th round

April 1, 1982

Ron Darling, SP: Traded from Rangers with Walt Terrell for Lee Mazzilli

June 1982

Dwight Gooden, SP: Drafted in first round

Roger McDowell: Drafted in third round

Dec. 10, 1982

Danny Heep: Traded from Astros for Mike Scott

Feb. 3, 1983

Ed Hearn: Signed as a free agent

June, 1983

Rick Aguilera: Drafted in third round

June 15, 1983

Keith Hernandez: Traded from Cardinals for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey

Dec. 8, 1983

Sid Fernandez: Traded from Dodgers with Ross Jones for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz


Davey Johnson becomes manager

Jan. 17, 1984

Rafael Santana: Signed as a free agent

June, 1984

Kevin Elster: Drafted in second round

June 15, 1984

Bruce Berenyi: Traded from Reds for Matt Bullinger, Jay Tibbs, Eddie Williams June

Dec. 7, 1984

Howard Johnson: Traded from Tigers for Walt Terrell

Dec. 10, 1984

Gary Carter: Traded from Expos for Hubie BrooksMike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans

March 30, 1985

Randy Niemann: Traded from White Sox for minor leaguers Gene Autry and Ken Reed

Nov. 13, 1985

Bob Ojeda: Traded from Red Sox with Chris Bayer, Tom McCarthy and John Mitchell for John Christensen, Wes Gardner, Calvin Schiraldi and LaSchelle Tarver

Jan. 16, 1986

Tim Teufel: Traded by Twins with Matt Crosby for Billy Beane, Joe Klink and Bill Latham

Aug. 3, 1986

Lee Mazzilli: Signed as a free agent (originally drafted in first round, 1973)

Of the 24 championship players here is the breakdown:

  • Three players (Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman, Mookie Wilson) were inherited.
  • Five were drafted in the first three rounds. (Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell, Rick Aguilera, Kevin Elster)
  • One was drafted in the late rounds. (Lenny Dykstra, 13th Round)
  • Two were signed as amateur free agents. (Kevin Mitchell, Doug Sisk)
  • Three were signed as MLB free agents. (Rafael Santana, Ed Hearn, Lee Mazzilli)
  • Ten players were acquired in trades, many of which included the Mets top prospects. (Tim Teufel, Sid Fernandez, Bruce Berenyi, Danny Heep, Bob Ojeda, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Ron Darling)

One of Frank Cashen’s first signature move after being named GM, was to trade for Reds’ All Star George Foster and then sign him to what was at the time the richest contract in baseball. Foster would be released in mid season during 1986 after making some inflammatory remarks about the front office, and was immediately replaced by longtime fan favorite Lee Mazzilli.

Sadly, the dynasty Cashen was hoping for never materialized and within two years he began dismantling the championship team he had built. Ray Knight, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Roger McDowell were either traded or released. Frank Viola was brought in along with Juan Samuel, and Gregg Jefferies was going to be the new face of the franchise. But just five years after that famous trickler down the first base line, and after a dismal fifth place finish, Cashen stepped down as GM of the Mets and was replaced by Al Harazin.

25 years later, Frank Cashen was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on August 1, 2010 along with his manager Davey Johnson, and his two top draft picks; Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry.

About Joe D 7966 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.