On Aug. 26, 2009 the New York Mets traded Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Chris Carter and first baseman Eddie Lora. At the time of the trade, it was clear that the Mets were mostly making a salary dump.
But things have turned out worse than New York planned.
Chris Carter looked as though he would turn into a solid bench player, and Eddie Lora at least appeared to have some power potential, but less than two years later, both players are no longer part of the organization.
Carter was exciting to watch in his limited time with the Mets, but didn't produce enough to make the trade worth it. In 100 games in 2010, he was only decent, hitting .263/.317/.389 with four home runs and 24 RBI.
In the offseason the Mets decided to non-tender Carter in order to avoid paying him $200,000 plus his minor league salary. Carter then decided to sign a minor league deal with Tampa Bay, where he is thriving this year.
To turn this trade into a complete bust, the Mets released Eddie Lora from the organization earlier this week after he hit .088 in 34 at-bats in rookie ball last year.
But looking at what the Red Sox got out of the deal makes it really sting.
Wagner was great down the stretch for Boston in 2009, going 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA and striking out 22 in 13.2 innings. He wasn't as sensational in the Angels sweep of the Red Sox in the ALDS, but he wasn't terrible either as it was two inherited runners Jonathan Papelbon allowed to score that inflated Wagner's ERA.
But that is not all.
The Red Sox offered Wagner salary arbitration after the season, so when he went on to sign with the Atlanta Braves, Boston received the 20th and 39th overall picks in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft. With those picks the Red Sox selected Kolbrin Vitek and Anthony Ranaudo.
Vitek has looked like nothing special early on, but Ranaudo ranks as the Red Sox No. 2 prospect, according to SoxProspects.com, and is one of the top pitching prospects in all of the minor leagues—one of the few prospects with legitimate "ace" potential.
Had the Mets kept Wagner, they most likely would not have offered Wagner arbitration—probably citing the closer's request not to be subject to arbitration so as to make Wagner more attractive to potential suitors—when in reality it was pretty clear the Mets did not want to have to pay anymore first-round draft picks.
And on the off chance the team had offered Wagner arbitration and received the compensatory picks, I highly doubt they would have drafted Ranaudo due to his high price tag.
Nonetheless, it was money saving moves like this from Omar and the Wilpons that have prevented the Mets farm system from flourishing. If the Mets could have paired up Ranaudo and Harvey from the 2010 draft, they would have two starters in the minors right now with top-of-the-rotation potential.
It sucks to look back and imagine "what could have been."