It was the night of July 29th, 2015. The Mets, carried by their formidable young pitching staff, were sitting 2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, and desperately needing to boost an anemic offense.
Over the course of the week, there were a few names floating around:
Carlos Gonzalez: With the trade of Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, the Rockies appeared to have started a fire sale as they headed into rebuilding mode. It was widely believed around the league that CarGo was also available, though at a premium price. The Mets weren’t ready to part ways with ML level pitching prospects, and a trade never picked up any traction.
Jay Bruce: Bruce was the most affordable of the bunch, both in terms of contract and what it would cost to acquire him. Like CarGo, Bruce was a lefty, which was one thing the Mets lineup was not lacking.
Justin Upton: The Mets were getting a first hand view of Upton, as the Padres were in town for a 3 game series. Upton made the most sense, not only was he a right-hitting, versatile outfielder, he was the youngest of the 3. The only problem with Upton was that he would only be a rental, as his contract was due at the end of the season.
With the trade deadline less than 48 hours away, having already acquire Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe as depth pieces from the Braves. and the Nationals coming into town for a weekend series, Sandy Alderson & Co. knew it was the perfect time to strike a deal.
The game started and the lineup still didn’t have an addition. The Padres jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead. Those who had been following the team through the year knew they had little to no chance to rally. As it got deeper into the game, social media started buzzing following a series of tweet by Joel Sherman:
According to Sherman, the Mets had traded for Carlos Gomez. Gomez, a former Met flipped in the deal that brought Johan Santana to New York, had evolved as a 5 tool player and was having one of his best seasons on both sides of the ball. The players heading back were Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler, who was still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
News started spreading around the stadium, and by the time Flores came up to bat in the 7th inning, most of the fans knew he was heading to the Brewers. While stepping into the box, fans gave Flores a standing ovation, leaving Flores and the team confused.
After grounding out to his opposite number, Flores was walking back to the dugout when he heard some fans wishing him good luck and thanking him for everything he had done for the Mets.
It is customary for players that are being traded to be taken out games to avoid injury. For some odd reason, Flores was still in the game. When he took the field for the top of the 8th, with the thought of having to leave the organization he signed with at the age of 16, Flores got emotional, creating one of the most iconic moments in New York Mets baseball history.
After the top of the 8th, Flores was pulled from the game by Terry Collins. After having a quick conversation with Collins, Flores walked into the clubhouse, followed by team captain David Wright, veteran Michael Cuddyer and long time friend Ruben Tejada.
Adding to the drama, after the game, Alderson addressed the media and made it very clear that a trade “has not and will not transpire.” Apparently the Mets medical staff, one that has been under fire for years, had not liked something they saw in Gomez’s medical. Everyone from writers, to fans, or even the Brewers thought the deal was official.
Of course, the non-trade was one of the best things that happened to the eventual National League Champions. Just 2 days later, in his first game since the event, Flores hit a walk-off homerun against the Nationals, sparking a team that had just acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.
Cespedes went on to hit 17 homeruns, while driving in 44 runners. His acquisition propelled the Mets into a National League pennant. The non-trade, along with its drama, most likely would have kept Cespedes away from the Mets, making it one the best the trades that never was.