Astros: Reviewing the 2004 Richard Hidalgo trade with Mets

We take a look back at the trade in which the Houston Astros sent Richard Hidalgo to the Mets.

A lot happened for the Houston Astros in 2004. They won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history and acquired budding superstar Carlos Beltran. What’s easy to forget is that they said goodbye to Richard Hidalgo after enduring part of another disappointing season from him.

As a matter of fact, the team traded Hidalgo just one week before it acquired Beltran. On June 17, the Astros acquired pitchers David Weathers and Jeremy Griffiths from the Mets in exchange for Hidalgo, who was set for free agency following the season.

What the Astros Got

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Weathers was a well-traveled veteran reliever, as the Astros were his ninth major league team. In his age-34 season, he was 5-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 32 appearances at the time of the trade. After the deal, he pitched to a 4.78 ERA in 26 appearances for Houston. The team released him in early September, but he would pitch another five seasons in the majors before retiring. He finished with a 4.25 career ERA in 19 seasons for nine different teams, including multiple stints with three of those clubs.

The 26-year-old Griffiths had a 7.02 career ERA in just 41 innings at the time of the trade. He made only one start for the Astros, allowing five runs in 4.1 innings of work. That would prove to be his final outing in the major leagues.

What the Astros Gave Up

Hidalgo had at times been a fearsome slugger and at other times been highly disappointing. He put up a monster 2000 season, was about average in 2001, was below average in 2002, rebounded with an excellent 2003 but disappointed again in 2004. He lost his starting job to Jason Lane shortly before the trade.

At the time of the deal, he was hitting .256/.309/.412 with only four home runs in 58 games. After the trade, he hit .228/.296/.463 with 21 homers in 86 games for the Mets. So he found his power stroke and improved his OPS, but was still a little below average by the adjusted OPS measure. He played only one more season in the majors leagues, heading to the Rangers in 2005.

The Final Verdict

Hidalgo managed to give the Mets 0.9 WAR, largely thanks to above-average defense. The Astros got a total of -0.6 WAR, made up of -0.4 from Weathers and -0.2 from Griffiths. So in that sense, the Mets clearly won the deal.

The Astros were backed into a corner, though, with Hidalgo requesting the trade after being benched. As he was having a subpar season and about to reach free agency, he didn’t have much value to begin with.

Still, neither player the team got in return actually made a positive contribution in terms of WAR. Weathers would have some successful seasons in Cincinnati after he was let go, so perhaps they should have held on to him. But regardless, there wasn’t a great deal of value to be extracted from this trade one way or the other.

The Mets got solid defense and about an average bat from Hidalgo for a few months, while the Astros didn’t get much of anything. So this trade goes down in the loss column for Houston, though it was a trade the club pretty much had to make.

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