The Roberto Alomar trade stands out as one of the worst in Mets history for a litany of reasons.
A classic “He was good until he went to the Mets” player, Alomar had made 11-straight All-Star teams at the time of his trade before the 2002 season. He was the Hall of Fame headliner of a group of big-ticket acquisitions that included David Justice (for about a week) and Jeromy Burnitz. This trio was supposed to bring the Mets back to the World Series after a disappointing 2001 season.
Those three names contributing to a pennant sound absolutely ridiculous now, but it sure didn’t 15 years ago. Maybe it should have, though, because none of them lasted with the Mets, and the team went 75-86 in 2002. Alomar was the poster boy for this group; he was gone from the team by 2003 and out of baseball altogether by 2004.
Despite the Alomar trade’s failings, the Mets really lucked out in that they didn’t give up anyone substantial to get Alomar. They traded Alex Escobar (Their top prospect at the time, who never materialized), Matt Lawton, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder and Billy Traber. The only player from that bunch that ever did anything big was Lawton, who made one All-Star team but never did much else.
But this trade did almost fall into that category. General manager at the time Steve Phillips offered the Indians an 18-year-old minor league shortstop by the name of Jose Reyes in the trade. Yes, that Jose Reyes. So if you thought the Alomar trade couldn’t have gone worse for the Mets, you are sadly mistaken.
According to a 2007 New York Post article, Phillips gave Cleveland the option of taking Reyes instead of Escobar. The Indians opted to take the highly-touted Escobar instead of a largely unproven teenager who had just two minor league seasons and had never been past Single-A.
Former Indians GM Mark Shapiro probably wishes he could have that one back. Escobar played just 74 games for the Indians, and Reyes played, well, a lot more games than that for the Mets. Imagine how much more hated Alomar would be among Mets fans had they ended up trading Reyes for the big-time bust at second base.
They should consider themselves even luckier that they held on to their No. 7 prospect that year, per Baseball America. He turned out to be a guy named David Wright. Maybe the Roberto Alomar trade wasn’t as bad as you thought it might have been, if you consider the alternatives.