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This Date in Mets History: December 2 - Mets Buy Third Basemen in Bulk

The Mets have welcomed Wayne Garrett, Bobby Bonilla, and Robin Ventura to the organization on this date.

Donald Miralle / Getty Images

The hot corner has been a traditionally hot topic for the Mets on December 2, as the team has acquired a trio of third basemen on this date. Back in 1968, the Mets plucked Wayne Garrett from the Braves organization in the rule 5 draft. Though he rarely gets mentioned these days, Garrett was probably the best third sacker in Mets history prior to Howard Johnson and definitely the best redhead before Rusty Staub snatched that crown. Garrett started 1969 season on the bench, but eventually worked his way into the lineup as a left-handed platoon partner for Ed Charles. A favorite of Gil Hodges, the manager called the emergence of the young infielder "the surprise of the year". Given the lion's share of playing time the following season, Garrett responded by posting career-highs in OBP (.390) and slugging percentage (.421). Though he wouldn't reach those peaks again, Garrett continued to show occasional pop and a knack for getting on base, placing among the NL's top ten in walks three times in his eight years as a Met.

While Wayne Garrett came to New York with little fanfare and no expectation, it's impossible to say the same of Bobby Bonilla, who became the highest paid player in baseball on this date in 1991 by signing a five year, $29 million deal with the Mets. Bonilla will probably go down as the longest running punchline in team history, thanks to the amount of deferred money he's still owed, that shouldn't overshadow that he was a fairly productive hitter for the three and half years that his first New York stint lasted. Even in his disappointing first season, which was hampered by injuries and a career-low BABIP, he still managed to put up an OPS+ of 121. From 1993 to 1995, Bobby Bo slugged well over .500 and was having the best year of his career at the time of his trade to the Baltimore Orioles. Was he overpaid? Yes, but that's a criticism that should be leveled at GM Al Harazin, not at the person who took what was willingly offered.

The last third baseman picked up on December 2 is also the most beloved: Robin Ventura. Based on your WAR of choice, Ventura's 1999 season is either the third (Fangraphs) or fifth-best (B-Ref) ever by a Met manning the hot corner. Either way, it was certainly memorable enough to overshadow that he was essentially average for his remaining two years in Queens. Traded to the Yankees for the last season of the contract he inked on this date in 1998, Ventura enjoyed a nice return to form while Mets fans were forced to watch the desiccated remains of Roberto Alomar hobble around the infield.

Jay Kleven would have been 63. A catcher by trade, Kleven got five at-bats with the Mets in 1976. HIs lone big league safety was a pinch hit single off of the Cubs' Bruce Sutter that plated the last two runs in a 13-1 romp over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 2001, Enron Corporation filed for Chapter 11 protection in one of the biggest business bankruptcies in American history. This led the Houston Astros to buy the naming rights to their ballpark back from the failing company. The move pleased all, except maybe the Mets, who racked up a 4-3 record in the two years of Enron Field's existence. That may sound modest, but it's a vast improvement over the 83-132 regular season mark the Mets played to at the old Astrodome.