Sometimes it takes years to fully evaluate a trade. For example, the Mets won’t know exactly what they have in Zack Wheeler until 2013, his projected debut in the Major Leagues. Even then, he still may not round into form for a few years.
That’s the case with two former Mets prospects, Philip Humber and Mike Carp. Humber was part of the deal that brought Johan Santana to the Mets in 2008, and Carp was shipped to Seattle in the deal that made relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green Metropolitans in 2009. In 2011, Humber and Carp are finally starting to enjoy some success in the Majors.
The big right-hander has cooled off a bit after getting off to a hot start with the White Sox in 2011. He is 8-8 with a 3.67 ERA, and a 1.15 WHIP in 22 appearances (20 starts) for Chicago. He caught the attention of Mets fans with a 7-inning, no-run, one-hit performance against the Yankees in April. At age 28, he seems to be finding his comfort zone in the majors.
As a Met, he debuted in 2006 as a September call-up, and threw 2 innings in relief. In 2007, he was rushed into making a start in the midst of The Collapse, and performed about as poorly as the rest of the pitching staff that September.
So, while it seemed two years ago that the Mets pretty much got Johan Santana from the Twins for nothing (regarding the trade, not his contract), Humber, as well as Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, have made contributions as their careers have progressed. They aren’t superstars, but they have turned into solid major leaguers. The Mets still got the better of the deal, getting an ace pitcher who had 3 excellent years with the Mets before succumbing to a severe shoulder injury.
Carp was a power-hitting first baseman in the Mets organization who made it as far as AA Binghamton before being traded to the Mariners. He spent 2+ years at AAA Tacoma pounding Pacific Coast League pitching, putting up an .818 OPS in 2009, and an .844 OPS in 2010 with 29 HRs. This year, he had already hit 21 HRs in 251 ABs for Tacoma before getting the call to the big club in June. In 140 ABs, he’s batting .329 with 6 HRs and a .915 OPS.
Meanwhile, Sean Green was a bust, and J.J. Putz spent his brief Mets tenure on the DL with an elbow injury that Omar Minaya knew about prior to the trade. Given the emergence of Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, Carp wouldn’t have figured into the Mets 1B future, but he has played some outfield for Seattle this year. And since the Mets’ trainer’s room is currently more crowded than the locker room, you’d have to figure Carp would have been a contributor in New York this year. With those factors, 3 years later, the Mariners got the better of the trade.
With the success of Carp and Humber, the evaluation of those two trades are more complete, even though Carp is still at the dawn of his career, and the verdict is still out on Humber in the long run. But it goes to show that you can’t really reach a conclusion about a trade until years later, in many cases.