Adding one guy, updating my May update — formerly current tenures that have mercifully ended (I’m looking at you, Jason Vargas).
His 2015 NLCS broken leg is apparently healed.
A few more players have come back in the nearly three years since I wrote this, so here is an update:
Gomez was a hot prospect who was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade. After almost infamously returning in 2015, he finally back back in 2019.
Familia was a fixture in the Mets bullpen before being traded at the 2018 deadline. He came back as a free agent in 2019.
Matt den Decker
Vargas was briefly a Met, now he is an ill-advised Met.
The Mets got him for the stretch run in 2016, traded him at the deadline at 2017 and re-signed him as a free agent for 2018, only to deal him before 2019. Whew!
The Mets had three players return to Flushing during the 2016 season after being banished from the kingdom. It got me thinking about other players who came and went. In descending order of when they returned, here is a list that may or may not be incomplete. By the way, this does not include players who were in the minor league system, but left before playing with the big club and then came back (such as Angel Pagan). And not ever player warrants a story.
Oh, and thanks to Mets 360. After I completed my post, I was looking for a picture for it and stumbled upon that site’s same brilliant idea. It turns out I was missing a few (and so was its list, for that matter), so here is what I hope is a complete list.
Niese came up the ranks with the Mets before being traded away after the 2015 season. He was reacquired midway through 2016 to add some depth to the pitching, Instead, he was terrible and lasted six games before being lost to injury.
One of the most popular Mets in team history, fans have been clamoring for Reyes’s return since he left as a free agent after the Mets made no efforts to re-sign him. They got their wish in 2016.
Johnson was traded to the Mets in July 2015 from the Braves. He went back to the Braves after the season, only to be traded again to the Mets in 2016. A valuable member of the bench for both half-seasons.
Ah, the 2015 odyssey of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. DFAed and sold to the Angels, cut by the Angels a few weeks later, picked up by the Mets. From multiple scrap heaps to playing in a World Series.
Eric Young, Jr.
2002-2004, 2006-2010, 2013
Technically, Feliciano returned twice, yet somehow, never threw a pitch for another big league team. First he pitched for the Mets, then went to Japan for a year. After a successful stint back with the Mets, he signed with the Yankees. But he was injured the whole time and never pitched for them (but took home nearly eight million pinstripe dollars). He came back for one final go around in 2013.
One of the original Generation K, Isringhausen became a reliever in his Mets absence and came pack to pick up his 300th save in a Mets uniform. His 12-year gap is the longest between Mets tenures.
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Hernandez loved New York so much that after the 2005 season, he signed with Pittsburgh for 2006. He came back in the panic trade after the Duaner Sanchez car accident.
Zeile could have gone back to any of the 27 teams for which he played for his final season. He chose the Mets. Hit a home run in his last at bat.
Following an excellent career, Cone attempted a comeback with the Mets in 2003 after a year off. Apparently George Steinbrenner was really mad Cone chose to try in Flushing. At 40, he lasted just five games.
Cedeno left as a fleet-footed outfielder with a promising future and came back as a plodding pile of mediocrity. What happened in those two years?
Burnitz came back with Cedeno in that same ill-conceived spending spree by Steve Phillips. Still shocking every one of those moves failed.
Orosco never really returned. The Mets traded for the then 42-year-old in the off-season, but then dealt him away during Spring Training. But I put him on here anyway because, well, it’s my website.
The first of Generation K to return.
Traded for Pulsipher, by the way.
Thanks, Steve Phillips.
Traded to the Dodgers in June 1998, traded back a month later. Steve Phillips strikes again.
Sorry to remind you he was here twice.
Brooks was star when he was traded for Gary Carter. He was on his last legs when he came back.
Hurdle was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was with the Mets in 1985 when the Cardinals made the World Series, he was on the Cards in 1986 when the Mets won it all, and he was with the Mets in 1987 when St. Louis went to the Series.
The Matinee Idol came back just in time to win a World Series ring with his hometown team.
Leach pitched only in the minors for two other teams during his two-year sojourn from Flushing.
It was a stroke of genius to get Seaver, still effective at 38 years old, back to Flushing. But the Mets blew it after one season when they left him unprotected in the free agent compensation pool draft, thinking no one would take the high-priced veteran. The White Sox snapped him up, and he won his 300th game in that hideous uniform. And to add insult to injury, it happened at Yankee Stadium. Seaver attempted to come back yet again in 1987, but it was aborted after a failed minor league game and a poor simulated game.
Prematurely traded from the Mets over a spat with Seaver’s favorite executive M. Donald Grant, Staub came back as a pinch-hitter extraordinaire.
Kingman left and returned with that same swing that could produce the longest home run you’ve ever seen or the most spectacular strikeout ever.
Was one of three players traded for Staub.
He was another one. Only Ken Singleton never returned.
Twice lost 20 games for the Mets during his first stint. Easy to see why they wanted him back.