Mets Get Viola in 6-Player Trade : Twins Receive Aguilera, West and Three Others to Be Named

Share via
Associated Press

Frank Viola is coming home to New York, and the Mets hope he will lead them back into a pennant race that is quickly slipping away from them.

Viola became the first Cy Young winner to be traded in the season after winning the award when the Minnesota Twins sent him to the Mets Monday night.

The Twins received pitchers Rick Aguilera and David West and three players to be named.

The teams met all day and completed the deal shortly before the midnight (EDT) trading deadline. Viola waived his right to demand a trade at the end of the season.


Earlier in the evening, the Mets acquired relief pitcher Jeff Musselman along with minor league pitcher Mike Brady for a player to be named.

The acquisition of Musselman made the Mets more willing to trade pitchers.

Last year Viola, 29, had a 24-7 record and 2.64 earned-run average. This season he has struggled, his record dipping to 8-12 and his ERA increasing to 3.79.

Viola, a star at St. John’s University, was born in New York. He will fly to St. Louis Tuesday and is expected he will start for the Mets on Wednesday night against the Cardinals.

“It’s a shock for me. It’s the first time it’s ever happened. I have a lot of fond memories for Minnesota, the fans and the championship, but this is coming home,” Viola said in New York, where the Twins were to play the Yankees today. “Now, I’ll have a chance to play for a team I grew up with.”

The Mets, who missed a chance to get Mark Langston earlier this season, had been looking to fill the void left by Dwight Gooden’s injury. Gooden is recovering from a torn muscle under his right armpit and will not be ready to pitch again until late August.

The Mets, who lost for the seventh time in a row Monday night, are in fourth place in the National League East. New York is seven games behind Montreal, which got Langston from Seattle in May. Langston has gone 9-3 for the Expos.


“I know we’re giving up a lot for Viola, he’s one of the premier pitchers in baseball,” Met Manager Davey Johnson said. “Any time we can get a player of this caliber, you have to make the trade.”

Twin Manager Tom Kelly was asleep in his New York hotel room when the deal was made.

“Frank started with me in double-A down in Orlando, Fla.,” Kelly said. “Any time a player starts with you in the minor leagues and comes up to the majors, he’s always special to you.”

Aguilera, 27, is 6-6 with seven saves and a 2.34 ERA. He had been ineffective recently as a reliever and had wanted to return to a starting role.

West, 24, is a promising left-hander who was called up from the minors to take Gooden’s spot in the rotation. In two starts he is 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA.

The three other players in the trade will be announced later. One is expected to be pitcher Kevin Tapani, 25.

Viola, the most valuable player of the 1987 World Series, signed a three-year, $7.9-million contract in the first week of this season. He is the highest-paid player in baseball, along with fellow Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser.


Under the collective bargaining agreement, players traded during multiyear contracts may demand a trade in the 15 days after the end of the World Series and their teams must comply by the following March 15.

“We waived the right to demand a trade in exchange for the Mets agreeing not to trade him during the duration of his contract,” said Viola’s agent, Craig Fenech.

Kelly said he was not sure what role Aguilera will fill.

“I know he’s been a starter and a reliever and getting an awful lot of work in the last few weeks,” the manager said.

Kelly said either Mike Dyer or Mark Guthrie will take Viola’s spot in the rotation.

Earlier in the day, Jerry Reuss, a 40-year-old left-hander, went to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitcher Brian Drahman. Reuss was 8-5 with a 5.06 ERA in 23 games with the Chicago White Sox.

In the completion of the May 25 trade for Langston, Mike Campbell went to Montreal. The Expos optioned Campbell, 25, to their triple-A Indianapolis club.