Mets Make Big Trade (in 1977)!!

Since this Mets off-season has been boring and quietly disappointing, I’ve decided to take a look back at 1977, when they pulled off one of the biggest trades in Mets (and perhaps baseball) history, as far as number of teams and players are concerned. I am talking about the four-team, 11-player deal that netted the Mets one of the biggest hot dogs in baseball history — Willie Montanez.

Here’s how it went down on December 8, 1977:

Mets

Trade:
Jon Matlack
John Milner

Get:
Willie Montanez
Tom Grieve
Ken Henderson

Braves

Trade:
Willie Montanez

Get:
Tommy Boggs
Adrian Devine
Eddie Miller

Rangers

Trade:
Bert Blyleven
Tom Grieve
Ken Henderson
Tommy Boggs
Adrian Devine
Eddie Miller

Get:
Jon Matlack
Al Oliver
Nelson Norman

Pirates

Trade:
Al Oliver
Nelson Norman

Get:

Bert Blyleven
John Milner

It was a curious trade for the Mets. The 30-year-old Montanez was pretty good, coming off of a 20-home run season. But fellow first baseman Milner was a few years younger and was a similar hitter. Matlack, though, was only 27, and while he was coming off his first bad season for the Mets, there was no reason to give up on him. He went on to pitch six reasonably successful years with the Rangers.

willie

Montanez played well for the Mets in 1978. In addition to 96 RBIs, he gave the awful, bland team some personality. He was traded midway through the 1979 season to, of course, the Rangers, which perhaps wanted him in the original deal. Grieve and Henderson were useless for the Mets.

It looks like this was just a Montanez dump for the Braves. The three players they got in return did nothing.

The Rangers gave up quantity for quality. In addition to Matlack, they got Oliver, one of the top hitters in the game at the time and an underrated player overall.

But they had to give up Blyleven to get him, and that’s what made the Pirates the big winners of the trade. The future Hall of Famer went 12-5 for Pittsburgh in 1979, helping to lead the “We Are Family” Pirates to the world championship. Milner contributed with 16 homers that year. Incidentally, Milner was traded during the 1981 season to Expos for — you guessed it — Willie Montanez!

They just don’t do trades like that anymore. Ah, the good old days!

One thought on “Mets Make Big Trade (in 1977)!!

  • January 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm
    Permalink

    it really goes to show just how creative some gm’s used to be. these things do happen, but just not that often. the last for the mets had to be the putz deal, and while omar got sean green in that deal, he also dumped heilman. he also dumped joe smith which was surprising considering how young he was. not omar’s best trade but then again none really were.

    all in all, it’d be interesting to see sandy use a tactic like this to make a bold move in the next couple years for when the young pitchers are all ready. something to net a couple young stars maybe without giving up any (if i’m still allowed to dream for the mets anymore)

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