Most Fans Thought the Mets Would Deal For the All-Star Catcher
San Diego landed the biggest deal at this year's trade deadline, acquiring All-Star outfielder Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals. Soto had been highly sought-after as contending teams prepare for their postseason runs, a list that includes both New York teams.
Most fans figured that the Yankees had abandoned their desire for Soto, having just a few days ago received outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals. Cross town in the Big Apple the Mets, too, seemed to have lost interest in Soto, already having an arsenal of quality outfielders like Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, and Mark Canha.
Instead, the Mets had turned their attention to catcher, continuing talks with the Chicago Cubs about All-Star Willson Contreras. Before making such a deal, however, the folks in the front office at Citi Field must have looked back in the not-so-distant past, exactly one year ago.
It was on July 31 2021 when the Mets had a five game lead in National League East, just about the same situation they have this season. That same day they made a deal with the Cubs, bringing over All-Star shortstop Javier Baez and reliever Trevor Williams for minor leaguer Pete Crow Armstrong
Even though New York had just signed Francisco Lindor to a lucrative multi-year contract to play shortstop, the Mets went after Baez because of his ability to play second base. Surely having two superstars in the middle infield would allow the Mets to not only lock up first place, but to advance in the postseason.
Unfortunately, Baez continued the slump that had begun two seasons ago, and he soon heard the displeasure at Citi Field. He became the scapegoat of the Mets struggles, as they then went 9-19 in August and 11-16 in September for a third place record of 77-85 at eleven and a half games out.
This year the Mets are again in first place, only they are just three games up instead of five on second place Atlanta. The last thing the New York front office needed to do was repeat the mistake of last season, bringing over a disgruntled Cubs star with plenty of baggage.
Contreras just last week took issue with an inside pitch by Bryce Wilson, raising controversy when he stepped on the mound after grounding out to first. This unsportsmanlike display by Contreras came in front of a crowd that had greeted him with banners and applause, believing it would be the catcher's last game as a Cub in Wrigley Field.
After another ground out in his subsequent at bat, Contreras was prevented from repeating the shameful act when the home plate umpire stood on the mound on the catcher's return to the dugout. By doing so, the ump probably prevented a brawl instigated by the often contrary Contreras.
If being so thin-skinned in a game between also-rans like his Cubs and the Pirates, one can only imagine the trouble Contreras might stir up during a pennant race in the Big Apple. He might have ended up (mis)behaving like his former teammate Baez, who infamously gave the home fans two thumbs down when they booed his poor performance.
After all, Contreras just suffered a poor month in July, when his offensive production plunged. Combine that setback with what the Athletic described as “an emotional player,” and the Mets would have probably experienced a drastic fall similar to the one from last season.