Back in November, I took a look at some of the Mets' Thanksgiving week acquisitions to see how the team did around Turkey Day. The verdict: not terrible. For the most part, their moves were either good or negligible, with only a few that could be termed bad. It was a bit surprising for a team that has a history of terrible moves, but that's why the good lord created small sample sizes.
Since the Mets have been quiet in the transaction department lately, I thought I'd do the same for the Yuletide season and see if they were equally fortunate. It turns out, they were. There were much more deals done around Christmas by the Mets than completed around Thanksgiving, particularly from the late 1980s forward. I'm not sure what would explain that, if it needs explaining. Perhaps the end of the year brings a greater sense of urgency? I have a feeling more deals are done in December than in November, but I don't have anything more solid to back that up apart from my own gut (which is pretty solid these days).
There were so many moves made during this period, in fact, that I've restricted this list to ones of note. There were plenty of instances of players reaching free agency or signing who did virtually nothing for the Mets (or any other team). As you'll see, early on most of these "moves" are actually births of future Mets of note, and again, I've limited the players to people of note. Those who feel I should have included Ruben Gotay's birthday can express their displeasure in the comments.
December 21, 1960: Roger McDowell is born. Jesse Orosco's righty counterpart as Mets closer during the glory days of the 1980s. Also known for pranksterism above and beyond the call of duty.
December 31, 1961: Rick Aguilera is born. Pitcher of record in game 6 by virtue of allowing the Red Sox to score two runs in the top of the 10th. One of four players traded to the Twins for Frank Viola.
December 23, 1968: Rick White is born. The righty reliever came to the Mets in the same deadline deal that brought Bubba Trammell to the Mets in 2000. White had some good appearances in the playoffs that year, most notably two rocky but scoreless innings against the Giants in game three of the NLDS, thus enabling Benny Agbayani's heroics.
December 28, 1971: Benny Agbayani is born. Best known for his homer in the aforementioned NLDS, and for handing a ball to a fan in the stands when he mistakenly thought it was the third out. Could not win a World Series under Bobby Valentine in 2000, but won the NPB championship with Bobby V's Chiba Lotte Marines in 2005.
December 20, 1973: The Mets trade Jim McAndrew to San Diego for Steve Simpson. McAndrew made 21 starts for the 1969 world champs, though none in the playoffs. He would appear in 15 games for the Padres before dropping out of baseball, while Simpson had already played his last major league game.
December 13, 1976: The Mets complete a three-way trade with the Cubs and Royals. In the deal, they deal away Jim Dwyer to Chicago and receive Sheldon Mallory from Kansas City. They resist the juvenile temptation to acquire the player the Royals receive from the Cubs: Pete LaCock.
December 24, 1977: Matt Ginter is born. Acquired from the White Sox for Timo Perez in 2004, by which time Timo had long since turned back into a pumpkin.
December 15, 1980: One-time Padres ace Randy Jones comes to the Mets in exchange for John Pacella and Jose Moreno. Jones spent two middling seasons in New York before retiring, but neither Pacella nor Moreno went on to do much damage, either.
December 16, 1980: Fan favorite Rusty Staub returns to the Mets as a free agent, after departing in December of 1975 in the reprehensible Mickey Lolich trade. Staub came through with many pinch-hitting heroics before retiring after the 1985 season.
December 21, 1980: Royce Ring is born. The lefty reliever made some appearances for the Mets in 2005 and 2006 before going to San Diego in the hideous trade for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson, the same deal that exiled Heath Bell.
December 16, 1982: The Mets reacquire Tom Seaver, a mostly symbolic move that would have had much more impact if they hadn't allowed him to be snatched away by the White Sox the following winter.
December 20, 1982: David Wright's birthday, soon to be an official holiday in the borough of Queens.
December 28, 1982: The last remnant of the shameful, Dick Young-fomented Tom Seaver trade disappears from the Mets' roster when Pat Zachry is shipped to the Dodgers for Jorge Orta.
December 17, 1987: Lee Mazzilli resigns with the Mets. He'd spend another season and a half with New York before finishing out his career with the Blue Jays.
December 20, 1989: The Mets attempt to undo an idiotic trade by sending Juan Samuel to the Dodgers for Alejandro Pena and Mike Marshall.
December 20, 1990: The immortal Jeff Musselman is granted free agency status, which he enjoys to this day, since as yet no one has attempted to has sign him. Musselman was acquired before the 1989 season in the trade that sent Mookie Wilson to Toronto.
December 19-20, 1991: The Mets sign four free agents, three of whom (Tom Filer, Steve Springer, and Jeff McKnight) are of little note. The fourth is Willie Randolph, who mans second base the following season, his last in the majors as a player.
December 17, 1992: The Mets trade for Maddux. Unfortunately, it's Mike Maddux, who they acquire from San Diego.
December 19, 1992: Four players are granted free agency, most notably the once highly touted Kevin Elster, He would spend all of 1993 in the minor league affiliates of several organizations, play part-time for the Yankees for two seasons, then earn Comeback Player of the Year thanks to 24 HRs/99 RBIs with the Rangers in 1996.
December 20, 1996: Mets history is littered with the team getting fleeced in trades, but this time they did the fleecing. Somehow, they pried John Olerud from the Blue Jays for the paltry sum of Robert Person. Olerud would spend the next three seasons in Queens and go on to anchor The Best Infield Ever.
December 23, 1996: Todd Pratt signs, after spending most of the season working at Bucky Dent's Baseball Academy. He'd fill in admirably for Mike Piazza over the years, particulary on one October afternoon at Shea.
December 18, 1997: The Mets get lefty reliever Dennis Cook from the Marlins for the low, low price of two minor leaguers. Cook would be a key part of the Mets' bullpens for the next few seasons, particularly during the playoffs in 1999 and 2000.
December 16, 1998: Rickey Henderson is signed. The future Hall of Famer has an out-of-his-mind season for the Mets in 1999 (particulary for a 40-year-old), but rubs the team the wrong way when he plays cards through the most grueling moments of the NLCS, then grouses his way out of New York in 2000.
December 21, 1998: Fresh off a year in Japan, Pat Mahomes signs with the Mets. Mahomes turns in some clutch long relief (and plate appearances) for the 1999 wild card winners.
December 23, 1999: The Mets complete the trade that brings Mike Hampton to New York and sends Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel to Houston. Hampton would become NLCS MVP the following season. The trade's salary dump throw-in, Derek Bell, had an amazing beginning to his 2000 season, then quickly fades from view.
December 27, 2001: Kevin Appier is traded to the Angels for Mo Vaughn, as part of Steve Phillips' plan to make the Mets the most immobile team in the majors.
December 18, 2003: John Franco signs his last contract with the Mets. The longtime closer spends one more year in New York, pitches part of the 2005 season with the Astros, then calls it a career.
December 20, 2003: After his first season with the Mets, Perpetual Pedro Feliciano signs as a free agent.
December 17, 2004: Omar Minaya makes the first big signing of his Mets GM career by inking Pedro Martinez to a four-year deal. The deal would become symbolic of his regime for a multitude of reasons.
December 22, 2005: Endy Chavez signs as a free agent. Known primarily for one amazing catch, which is a bit like saying Michaelangelo is known mostly for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
December 27, 2005: Chad Bradford signs with the Mets. Does some excellent ROOGY work for the 2006 NL East division champs.
December 21, 2009: R.A. Dickey signed as a free agent, a move largely ignored or mocked when it happened. Well, who's ignoring/mocking now?
December 29, 2009: The Jason Bay deal goes through. I doubt most folks thought Dickey would have more positive impact on the Mets than Bay at the time.