On this date in 2001, the Mets acquired first baseman Mo Vaughn from the Angels in exchange for right-hander Kevin Appier. Vaughn had missed the entire 2001 season with the Angels due to a ruptured tendon in his left arm, but General Manager Steve Phillips & Co. opted to roll the dice on the slugger anyway. The trade was meant to bring some power to the Mets’ lineup, but Vaughn’s injuries wound up making the deal one of the worst moves of Phillips’ tenure in New York.
The media got wind of the trade almost a week prior to its completion when sources told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that Phillips, manager Bobby Valentine, and Assistant General Manager Omar Minaya traveled up to Massachusetts to watch Vaughn work out, which was unusual given that Vaughn was under contract with Anaheim. ”I understand it was very positive. I heard that they really liked what they saw,” said one source. That would presumably include Vaughn’s physical shape, despite the slugger’s reported increase from 245 pounds to 275 pounds in his first two seasons with the Halos.
Less than a week later, the Mets agreed to take on Vaughn and the roughly $50MM owed to him over the next three seasons. As part of the deal, the Mets got to defer some of the money paid to the first baseman while the Angels covered the $8MM he was still owed as part of his signing bonus. Meanwhile, they would also part with Appier, who was coming off of an impressive season in his first (and only) campaign in blue and orange. The right-hander posted a 3.57 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9, his best numbers since his time in Kansas City.
Vaughn wasn’t able to mash the ball as well as he had in years past by the time he got to Shea, but the veteran still managed to hit .259/.349/.456 with 26 homers in 139 games in 2002. The 2003 season was an entirely different story, however, as a knee injury in early May would bring his career to a close. Meanwhile, Appier pitched to a 3.92 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 32 starts for the Halos in 2002, helping to propel the Halos to their first World Series title. The Angels wound up releasing Appier the following year as he struggled with a flexor tendon injury, but one has to imagine that they were pretty happy to get out from under the money owed to Vaughn.
This post was originally published in 2012.