Recent reports have the Yankees considering obtaining Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets. Certainly, the deal would make some sense for both sides as the Yankees have some interesting left-handed depth relief options, the Yankees looking at three unproven players for two infield positions, and the Mets likely wanting to get out from under Cabrera’s $8.5 million salary. The question is whether the teams would actually swing such a deal.
If it were to occur, it would be a rare deal indeed as the two organizations have proven reluctant to make deals with one another. In fact, the first trade between both teams did not occur until the Mets 15th year of existence. In that deal, the Mets sent third baseman Roy Staiger to the Yankees for utility player Sergio Ferrer.
If you haven’t heard of the deal, that’s quite understandable. Staiger only played four games with the Yankees, and Ferrer only played 69 games with the Mets over two seasons. This reflects how the teams have dealt with one another as each has been quite reluctant to send their cross-town rival anything of consequence.
In fact, in the 16 deals completed between the two teams, there has only been only player who made an All Star team after the trade was made. Moreover, there have only been two players how have made the postseason after being traded in a cross-town swap. Both of these instances were the result of the now infamous 2001 trade between both teams.
With the Mets having a disappointing 2001 season, the team was looking to overhaul the roster. The first step in that was trading Robin Ventura to the Yankees. As we would learn days later, this was a prelude to the organization acquiring future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar from the Indians with the team shifting Edgardo Alfonzo to third base.
From the Yankee perspective, Ventura made sense because Scott Brosius had already announced his retirement. The cost of Justice made more than sense because the team wanted to give Nick Johnson a shot to DH, was all but assured of signing Jason Giambi, and at that point in his career, Justice was best served as a DH.
Of course, the Yankees won this trade in spades. Ventura would put his 2001 struggles behind him, and he would return to All Star form on a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Mets, on the other hand, fouled up both the trade and the season.
Instead of using Justice for right field, the Mets traded Justice for Mark Guthrie and Tyler Yates. Despite what they said in the movie Moneyball, it was the Mets, not the Yankees, who paid $7 million of Justice’s salary. Justice would go on to have a solid season for a 2002 Athletics team so good they won 103 games inspiring a book to be written about them.
While the Yankees and Athletics were thriving, the Mets were a dud. The team’s plan to bring back old friends Jeromy Burnitz and Roger Cedeno to play the outfield proved to be a disaster as was their decision to acquire Alomar. The end result was a losing record and Bobby Valentine getting fired at the end of the season.
Since then, the teams have gone back to either not dealing with one another or trading players of not much consequence. That’s why if the Yankees actually go out and acquire a starting caliber infielder like Cabrera from the Mets, it would be quite newsworthy. It was also be interesting to see if such a deal would have the same long standing ramifications as the Ventura-Justice swap.