After almost a decade of postseason-less futility, the New York Mets have made it all the way to the National League Championship Series on the backs of their trio of young but dangerous pitchers Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard. However, the team’s their hitting had been lacking until their trade for star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Since Cespedes’ arrival, the Mets as a whole have been a much better team offensively, which has been enough that Cespedes has garnered some (albeit dubious) MVP consideration. He has been given substantial credit for the Mets making it this far, but back when they traded for him at the end of July, he was merely the team’s second choice after backing out of a deal for then-Milwaukee Brewer Carlos Gomez after seeing his medical records. Had the Mets gone through with their original trade, they might not have made the playoffs, and the current MLB playoffs might have looked very different than how they are now.
On July 29, the Mets and Brewers had agreed in principle to a trade giving the Mets Carlos Gomez in exchange for pitcher Zack Wheeler and shortstop Wilmer Flores. This trade was assumed to be a done deal, to the point that Flores, who was playing that night for the Mets, was visibly shedding tears during the game upon hearing the news from fans. Flores was not exactly a hot commodity at that point, with a .249 batting average and an OPS of .660, while Wheeler was out for the season with injury — the Brewers were essentially only thinking about the future in the trade. Ever since the non-trade, an expected phenomenon has happened: after seeing how much he loved playing for the Mets, fans have showered Flores with love and he has responded by hitting .296 with an OPS of .808 since almost leaving the club. On top of that, Gomez was subsequently traded to the Houston Astros, with a disappointing average of .242 since the trade. With how the rest of their seasons went, the Gomez trade would have been a downgrade for the Mets, while also losing a well-regarded piece for the future in Wheeler.
As for their backup plan, Cespedes’ former team, the Detroit Tigers, were in talks with several teams trying to acquire him, chief among them being the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, who were a somewhat distant five games out of the final playoff spot, could conceivably grabbed the last spot from the Houston Astros, who would have been without Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers had Gomez gone to the Mets. Of course, the Astros would have been able to hold on to their four prospects, including the highly touted center fielder Brett Phillips, and would look even more scary in the future. With Cespedes in Baltimore, New York likely would have stayed around the bottom of the league offensively (as they stood before their trades) instead of being pulled up by the likes of Cespedes and Flores up to 17th by season’s end. Without upgrading their offense, the Mets could have easily stayed at second place in the NL East and missed the playoffs, instead of jumping ahead of the Washington Nationals to win the division.
With all these potential changes, the playoffs would certainly have different characters and storylines. Without the Mets, the Nationals would get to showcase their overwhelming talent and their constant dysfunction all at the same time, while also giving the Dodgers the opportunity to beat them instead of losing to the Mets. As well, we as baseball fans would get to see even more of MVP favourite Bryce Harper, and give him the chance to do something special in this year’s playoffs. As for the AL, if Baltimore made the playoffs, maybe they lose to the Yankees in the wild card game and the ALDS features a Royals-Yankees series. If Baltimore wins, then they get a chance to exact revenge on Kansas City for knocking them out last year in the ALCS.
While not all of these wrinkles may have occurred had the Mets gone through with acquiring Carlos Gomez, it’s pretty safe to say at least one or two would have. While the Mets have received a reputation for being terribly unlucky, I’m sure general manager Sandy Alderson feels like he dodged a bullet back at the trade deadline.