Jose Bautista has established himself as one of the strongest sluggers in baseball during his time with the Blue Jays. The 34-year-old outfielder has already hit 13 home runs in 60 games this year and has been named an All-Star in each of the last five seasons. But before he became one of the game's biggest stars, Bautista was disposed of by five other teams. One of these teams was the Mets, with whom he had a very short tenure.
The Mets acquired Bautista from the Royals on July 30, 2004, in exchange for minor league catcher Justin Huber. Bautista, who was a 23-year-old rookie at the time, had spent time with the Orioles and the Devil Rays before the Royals acquired him and sent him to New York about a month later. At the time, he was hitting just .208/.283/.229 with no home runs and two RBIs in 41 games.
Just a few hours after that trade, Bautista was traded again to the Pirates along with infielder Ty Wigginton in exchange for pitcher Kris Benson and infielder Jeff Keppinger. So that, in a nutshell, is the extent of Jose Bautista's time with the Mets. He was a Met on paper for a couple of hours.
Neither the Pirates nor the Mets got a particularly strong immediate return on this trade. Wigginton played just one-and-a-half seasons there before heading to Tampa Bay in 2006, and Bautista was still years away from becoming the star that he is today. On the Mets side, Keppinger played just 33 games with the team, and Benson wasn't all that effective for the Mets.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to put the Bautista trade on this list and say that the Mets should have never traded him. But the Bautista trade is distinctively different from other instances where the Mets dealt future stars and may not completely fit into this category. Three other teams had already given up on Bautista before he came to the Mets, and he was not particularly highly-touted prospect, as he was a 20th-round draft pick. Unlike the Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver trades, which drew immense initial criticism from media and fans, there was no way of knowing Bautista was destined for stardom at the time.
While the Bautista trade may not belong among the worst in Mets history, another one made on that same day certainly is. The Mets sent Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays in exchange for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato in order to make an ill-fated push for the playoffs.