May 22 is one of the most important dates in New York Mets history, marking the anniversary of the team's trade for Mike Piazza.
The deal, which went down on May 22, 1998 (22 years ago today), saw the Mets receive Piazza from the Florida Marlins for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.
You’re forgiven if you don’t remember Piazza’s tenure with the Marlins. Florida acquired the All-Star catcher alongside Todd Zeile from the Dodgers just over a week prior to its trade with New York, sending Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios to Los Angeles in a blockbuster deal.
Piazza played just five games with the Fish, collecting five hits and five RBIs in 19 plate appearances.
Piazza, of course, went on to become one of the greatest players in Mets history, and he chose to be depicted in the team’s cap on his Hall of Fame plaque when he was inducted in 2016.
Meanwhile, Wilson had a solid but unspectacular Marlins career, producing 104 home runs with 87 steals and an .806 OPS in 588 games. Yarnall threw only 20 innings in the Majors, none for Florida. And Goetz never made it to the big leagues.
Based on that information, we can declare the Mets the clear winner of the Piazza trade, right? Not so fast. The ensuing events, including those that led to the Marlins winning a World Series title in 2003, are worth a closer look before we make a final call on which team got the better of the four-player deal.
The case for the Mets
Piazza made an immediate impact after joining the Mets, hitting .419/.455/.484 over his first seven games as the club went 7-0. Overall, he recorded a .348 average, 23 homers, 76 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS in 109 games with New York that season. The Mets had a one-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card race as late as Sept. 20, but a five-game losing streak to end the year kept them out of the postseason.
After the season, the Mets signed Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million contract -- the richest deal in baseball history at the time. The next year, he led the club in homers (40), RBIs (124) and OPS (.936) over 141 games, and the Mets won the NL Wild Card with a 97-66 record.
New York defeated the D-backs in the NL Division Series, winning a posteason series for the first time since the 1986 Fall Classic, before falling to the rival Braves in the NLCS. Piazza went just 4-for-24 (.167) in the series, though he did hit a game-tying, two-run homer off John Smoltz in the seventh inning of Game 6, a contest the Mets would ultimately lose in 11 innings.