MIAMI - The deal came together well after the non-waiver trade deadline last year, which put the Mets on the clock.
The Pirates started the chain of events, putting in a claim for outfielder Marlon Byrd, while also expressing interest in veteran catcher John Buck. Both would help their push for the playoffs. The claim gave the Mets 48 hours to get a deal done, prompting general manager Sandy Alderson to quickly send word to staff and scouts in hopes of finding a few leads.
They came back with two names: reliever Vic Black and second baseman Dilson Herrera.
A year later, the Mets are reaping the rewards for jumping on the opportunity. In exchange for only one month of Byrd and Buck -- neither of whom returned to the Pirates -- the Mets came away with a valuable bullpen arm and perhaps their second baseman of the future.
"You can say we've made some bad signings or whatever," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Sandy Alderson's changed what's gone on here. You make the trades he's made and get those guys to the big leagues, he deserves a little credit for that."
Alderson's track record has been far from perfect. This season, he missed on a one-year, $7.25-million investment in Chris Young, who was released and has since landed with the Yankees. Curtis Granderson has endured a lackluster first season after signing a four-year, $60-million contract.
Yet when it comes to trades, Alderson has prospered.
Black, 26, jumped on the Mets' radar right away, according to team insiders. Even though he threw 98 mph and had success in Triple-A, the Mets believed the Pirates would be willing to part with him because they were deep in the bullpen.
This season, Black has emerged as key cog in a revamped bullpen, posting a 2.20 ERA in 39 appearances.
Herrera, 20, proved harder to come by.
Herrera had already been somewhat of a known commodity for the Pirates. Nevertheless, younger prospects carry more risk. Herrera was only 19 at the time and playing at Low-A West Virginia. Compared to Black, the Mets had far less information.
Timing, however, was on their side.
The Mets had recently received multiple positive reports about Herrera. Scout Shaun McNamara and Low-A Savannah manager Luis Rojas both vouched for the promising second baseman, who was regarded as a good athlete with a quick bat. They also appreciated the way he competed on the field.
Soon, the deal was done.
"We've got some young players that we got on deals that are going to make an impact." Collins said. "This guy is going to be one of them."
Herrera has capped a rapid ascent to the big leagues, the first position non-rehab player in franchise history to start the season in Class A and end it in the major leagues. In his first five games, he has played to his scouting report.
"Impressive looking hitter," said one rival evaluator. "Plays the game with fearless energy. Needs to dial back his aggression before he's ready to be a top-of-the-order type but his bat speed is impressive. He has plenty of power left to come . . . expect a lot of growing pains defensively at second base."
Entering Tuesday night, Herrera had already made three errors in the field. He has taken poor angles at times, and his throwing motion may have to be shortened to improve the consistency of his throws. But Collins believes these are minor fixes since Herrera has shown the physical ability to cover ground.
Offensively, Herrera has flashed the skills that had scouts raving. On Monday, Herrera homered and tripled, the youngest player in franchise history to accomplish both in a single game.
"This kid's going to hit," Collins said. "He's got one of the great setups. He's got a strong base, hands in a strong position. What he did [Monday], you don't see that. He hit a ball over the fence in leftfield and then hit a stinkin' rocket down the rightfield line? Twenty years old? That's pretty impressive."