On March 28, 1976, the Newark Star Ledger reported that the New York Mets were close to a deal that would send Tom Seaver to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Don Sutton. There was just one hurdle left: Sutton, who had 10 years of major league service (all with the Dodgers), had earned his 10-and-5 rights. He could effectively veto any trade.
“I find nothing enticing about pitching in New York,” said Sutton. “But I want to see the bottom line before I make my decision.”
The Dodgers reportedly wanted to work out a one-for-one swap of Sutton for Seaver, while the Mets were looking for extra players to be included in the deal.
Joe Torre was named the Mets’ player/manager two weeks before Seaver was traded to Cincinnati. His first order of business? Helping oversee the trade of Seaver.
“There were a lot of distractions because we knew a bomb was going to fall,” said Torre. “We didn’t know where it was going to fall. We talked to the Dodgers about Pedro Guerrero, but he was on crutches. And at the time, there was some hesitancy on the Mets part to deal Tom without getting an immediate player. I remember it vividly.”
Mets chairman M. Donald Grant confirmed the story saying, “It is true we have been speaking with the Dodgers ever since we announced we would talk with other teams about a deal for Seaver … What are his chances of remaining with us? It’s entirely up to Tom. We have made him an offer and that’s where the matter stands.”
“I went to Joe (McDonald) and told him I wasn’t unhappy or disloyal and that I wanted to remain a Met,” Seaver told the Newark Star Ledger. “He said he would get back to me. But there have been no communications. He has not gotten back to me.”
Seaver, of course, was ultimately traded to the Reds on June 15, 1977.