Remembering Mets History (1998): The Mets Acquire Mike Piazza

Friday May 22nd, 1998: The ground work on this massive Mets deal, was laid a week earlier when the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Mike Piazza & Todd Ziele to the Florida Marlins in exchange for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson & Jim Eisenreich.

It is considered one of the worst deals in Dodger history. It all happened as the end result of contract disputes with L.A. & Piazza since he was to be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Florida Marlins had won the World Series the previous year & wanted to cut salary. They would shed over $22 million on this trade alone. The Marlins had a big league fire sale, dumping all their big salaried players. In acquiring Mike Piazza, it would give them a big chip to trade for more top prospects. 

After the 1997 Marlin Championship, The New York Mets acquired Al Leiter, for pitching prospect A.J. Burnett. At this point in time, both teams GMs were on good terms, making it easier leading up to the Piazza deal.

Todd Hundley was the Mets main catcher at the time and he was down with a long term injury. Alberto Castillo was the back up catcher and he wasn't going to be an every day big leaguer. 

The Mets under Bobby Valentine were changing direction & moving forward. Piazza would give them the catcher they needed, and one of the best hitters in the league.

On May 22, 1998 the new broke in New York to the delight of Mets fans; The Mets got Mike Piazza in exchange for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnell, & Geof Getz.

The rest is Mets history. Piazza went on to become one of the best players in franchise history. After a slow start in 1998, he became a New York icon, that season bringing them within one game of the playoffs.

The next two years he led them to two playoff berths, and an NL pennant, going to the teams first World Series in 14 years. Piazza came close to winning an MVP Award, in which he was slighted, made seven All Star appearances, set many offensive records becoming the face of the franchise. 

He set a record for most HRs all time by a catcher in a Mets uniform and went to Cooperstown joining Tom Seaver as Mets immortals in the baseball Hall of Fame.

The Other Players: Preston Wilson did well for Florida, he hit over 23 HRs in all four seasons he played there, driving in over 100 RBIs once and never hitting above .280.

Wilson was gone by 2003, when the Marlins won their second World Series. Ed Yarnell was a top AAA pitcher at the time of the trade but soon faded away. Geof Goetz never made it to the big leagues.


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