Elliott Maddox (1978-1980)
The Mets sat out the first couple of years of free agency before taking the plunge with Maddox. A lot was expected of their first big signing, and all he delivered in three years was seven homers and a .255 batting average.
Tim Leary (1981, 1983-1984)
Leary was the number two pick overall in the 1979 draft, and was touted as the next Tom Seaver. He lasted all of two innings in his first Mets start at a frigid Wrigley Field in 1981 before blowing out his arm. He missed the following year, and pitched just another 22 games over the next two seasons for the Mets before they gave up on him.
Ellis Valentine (1981-1982)
Valentine was on his way to becoming one of the game’s better hitters when he got hit in the face with a ball in 1980, fracturing his cheekbone. He was never the same afterwards. The Mets were hoping he could find his old form, and traded Jeff Reardon to the Expos for him. But Valentine was done, hitting .261 with 13 homers in a season and a half.
George Foster (1982-1986)
When the Mets traded for Foster before the 1982 season and gave him a huge (at the time) five-year, $10 million contract, they thought they were getting the slugger who hit 52 homers five years earlier. Instead, they got a 33-year-old on the downside of his career. Foster topped out at just 28 homers in 1983. He was released midway through the 1986 season after accusing the Mets of racism.
Gregg Jefferies (1987-1991)
One of the most hyped prospects in Mets history, Jefferies was billed as a hitting machine. He was anything but, batting .276 in five years. He was also apparently despised by his teammates. Twenty years later, Keith Hernandez still groans when his name is mentioned during Mets broadcasts.
Bobby Bonilla (1992-1995, 1999)
No need to go into all the stories again. But people forget that when the Mets signed him to a five-year, $29 million contract, he was the highest paid player in the game. A lot is expected of a player who carries that tag, and Bonilla, who was far from the best player in baseball, couldn’t deliver.
Paul Wilson (1996)
All three of the “Generation K” pitchers could have been on the list, but Wilson was by far the most disappointing. He was the first player picked in the 1994 draft, and he was expected to be the ace of the Mets staff for the next decade. Instead, he battled injuries and pitched just a single season for the Mets, going 5-12 with a 5.38 ERA.
Roberto Alomar (2002-2003)
Alomar was coming off a season of 20 homers, 100 RBIs, .336 BA when he was dealt to the Mets for Matt Lawton and prospects. Manager Bobby Valentine asked at the time “how could we get him so cheap?” That question was answered when Alomar got onto the field. He had nothing left. One writer called him “the cardboard cut-out of Roberto Alomar.” He lasted a season and a half in Queens, batting .265 with 13 home runs.
Kaz Matsui (2004-2006)
The Mets waded into the Japanese waters before, signing such second-tier players as Masato Yoshii and Tsuyoshi Shinjo. But when they handed Matsui a three-year, $21 million contract (and moved Jose Reyes to second base to make room for him), the Mets and their fans thought they were getting the next Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui. We got neither.
Pedro Martinez (2005-2008)
It pains me to put Pedro on this list, because he was so much fun to watch and have on the team. But his Mets career can only be categorized as a disappointment. For $52 million, he went 32-23, the final 3 years riddled with injuries in which he made only 48 starts. He never pitched in a post-season game for the Mets. What else can you call that except disappointing?
Dishonorable mention: Jim Fregosi, Juan Samuel, Carlos Baerga, Jay Payton, Mo Vaughn and Victor Zambrano.
Mug Shots Courtesy Ultimate Mets Database, http://ultimatemets.com/mugshots.php