The Mets completed one of the largest by volume trades in team history on this date in 2002, a three team swap that saw eleven different players change uniforms in the course of a day.
The roster carousel began with New York sending Benny Agbayani and Todd Zeile to the Colorado Rockies for 1B/OF Ross Gload, P Craig House, and ex-Met Alex Ochoa. In the next turn, GM Steve Phillips repackaged Ochoa with pinch hitter Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch, then dispatched the trio to the Milwaukee Brewers for former Metropolitan Jeromy Burnitz, OF Lou Collier, P Jeff D'Amico, and OF Mark Sweeney. If you're counting at home, that's six new players to join the organization on this date, though only two (Burnitz and D'Amico) would log any time with the big league club.
For Phillips, this move marked the last major deal in an offseason filled with trades. Making good on a vow to make drastic changes to a team couldn't repeat as National League champions in 2001, the GM decided to give the roster renovations a rest, telling Tyler Kepner of the the New York Times:
If we got [the season] started today, I think we'd have a playoff-caliber team, 1 through 25.
Which probably could have been a true statement, had it been uttered in, say, 1999, when Mets new (Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn) and old (Piazza, Leiter) were a bit closer to the right side of 30. As it was, Phillips's trades cost the Mets seven wins, sliding from 82-80 to 75-86 in 2002. However, it's not like team came way from this date's three-way trade improved. The Rockies posted an identical 73-89 one year following the deal, while the Brewers, a 94-loss team in 2001, cratered to a franchise-worst 106 losses.
Righty Bill Graham would have been 76. The native Kentuckian made three starts for the Mets in September of 1967, winning one and losing two. His lone victory was a complete game six-hitter that came at the expense of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the previous year's NL pennant winners. Graham's major and minor league register is empty after that game, so presumably he ended his baseball career on a high note.
In happier trade news, Omar Minaya made a steal of a deal on this date in 2006, sending Kris Benson to the Orioles for Jorge Julio and John Maine. Benson had one healthy, albeit below-average, season for the Birds. Maine, meanwhile pitched great for the Mets, albeit it when not injured himself, amassing 4.6 WAR over five seasons.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let's remember back to this time two years ago when there was a brief rumor that a group of investors that included the good doctor's son, MLK III, was interested in buying a share of the Mets. Of course, no deal was struck between King's cadre and the Wilpons, meaning there's still no telling when Mets fans will be free at last from Fred and Jeff.