Mets Land 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz from Mariners, What's Next?

Mets Land 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz from Mariners, What's Next?

by Joe DeMayo December 02, 2018 0 Comments

The first big move of the Brodie Van Wagenen era is complete. The Mets have acquired 8 Time All Star second baseman Robinson Cano, 2018 All Star closer Edwin Diaz, and $20 million in cash from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 3 prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, right handed pitcher Justin Dunn, and right handed pitcher Gerson Bautista. The Mariners also took on the contracts of outfielder Jay Bruce and reliever Anthony Swarzak. Before I really dive into what the Mets parted with, lets talk about the new pieces to help the 2019 Mets roster. 


You all know who Robinson Cano is. He has been arguably the best 2nd baseman in the game for the last decade. He signed the mega deal with Seattle, interestingly enough negotiated by Van Wagenen who was his agent. Cano brings a huge boost to the Mets lineup. Even after coming off his 80 game performance enhancing drug suspension, Cano shined. In 80 games for Seattle this year he hit .303 with a .374 OBP, 10 home runs and 50 runs batted in. You are getting a big time bat here who also graded out above average at second base defensively. The issues are that he is under contract through age 41 and at 36 currently, how much time does he have before he falls off the cliff? I am of the belief that Cano has 2 high quality years left in the tank and 3 if you are lucky. An important part of the deal is the cash that the Mariners threw in to push down the $24 million per year that Cano makes in his deal. If we assume the $20 million is split evenly throughout the 5 years remaining on his deal, the Mets would actually save $2.5 million on their payroll in 2019 when you account for Bruce and Swarzak's $22.5 million and add the $4 million from Seattle. In 2020 when you add Bruce's $14 million and the $4 million from Seattle, the Mets will be responsible for $6M on Cano. In 2021, 2022 and 2023 they will only get the $4 million from Seattle and Cano would be a $20 million per year player for the last 3 years of his deal.

Edwin Diaz truly is the real "catch" in the deal for the Mets. Diaz, 24, was the best closer in all of baseball last year. He had a 1.96 ERA and league leading 57 saves. He threw 73.1 innings allowing a mere 41 hits and 17 walks while striking out a whopping 124. Not only was Diaz a dominant late game reliever, but he has an incredibly valuable contractual situation. Diaz is going to be making around league minimum in 2019 before he enters arbitration after this coming season. He is not a free agent until after the 2022 season. The Mets would have a high level of control over a high quality reliever. The issues with him are more so simply the volatility that there is with relievers. As dominant as Diaz was in 2018, there was a point in 2017 where he lost his closers role in Seattle. If 2018 is what Diaz will be for the foreseeable future, then Mets fans will be very satisfied when the Mets have the lead in the 9th inning of ballgames for years to come.


I am sure now you all have the question, what is it that the Mets gave up here? We all know that Bruce and Swarzak did not perform to expectations with the Mets, and it's fair to call them essentially salaries being sent back to off set Cano's money. Trading Bruce does clear up a bit of a cluster they have in the corner outfield and at first base with Peter Alonso likely coming to the big leagues very shortly into the 2019 season. Swarzak was given a 2 year deal by the Mets with thoughts that he was an ascending reliever but injuries and poor performance basically turned that into a bad contract for the Mets.


The biggest piece that the Mets parted with in this deal is 2018 1st round draft pick Jarred Kelenic. I absolutely loved Kelenic pre-draft and he was widely considered the top high school bat in the entire draft. Recently when discussing players in the system, Mets director of player development had this to say about Kelenic: "One of the most positive aspects of Jarred's season was that his last two weeks of the season [with Kingsport] were better than his first," Levin said. "That's important. He struggled for a period after moving up to Kingsport, but he was still making solid contact and putting the ball in play. He controls the strike zone extremely well already, and he's got the ability to be a true power and speed guy. We look at Jarred as a potential five-tool player." If you want to read my full thoughts on Kelenic pre-draft, read THIS.

Justin Dunn was the 19th overall pick by the Mets in the 2016 MLB Draft out of Boston College where he pitched out of relief towards the end of his college career before going back to being a starter in the Mets system. In 2017 the Mets aggressively moved Dunn to High-A St Lucie and he struggled to a 5.00 ERA which had people questioning his high prospect status. They sent him back to St Lucie to start 2018 where he figured it out with a 2.36 ERA before his promotion to Double-A Binghamton. Dunn provides an above average fastball and two solid off-speed offerings in his slider and curveball. If he does not put everything together to reach his mid rotation starter ceiling, he could have a future as a late inning reliever where his stuff could tick up in short spurts.

Gerson Bautista was considered the highest upside reliever that the Mets obtained in the Addison Reed trade from the Boston Red Sox with a fastball that touches 100 mph or more. The issue has been ever since he joined the Mets system, he has struggled with command and his slider has not developed much. As of now Bautista is essentially a one pitch pitcher with his fastball, and that won't cut it in the big leagues. If he can figure out a secondary pitch, he could have nice upside as a reliever but he has a long way to go.
I think it's impossible to deny that the Mets are in better position to contend in 2019 after this trade. I believe the long term viability of Cano certainly is in question, but I do believe that the Mets should expect to get two quality years out of Cano in the middle of their lineup. With the money saved from Bruce and Swarzak, they get a real improvement to the lineup without affecting their payroll. Diaz was really the catch of the deal as far as long term value goes. He is dominant, will be only 25 on opening day and the Mets will hold his rights for 4 years at a dollar amount significantly less than the likes of Craig Kimbrel will obtain in free agency.

I don't love the deal for the Mets because I think Kelenic is a huge loss for the Mets system. I thought he was the most talented player in the Mets system despite being ranked 3rd or 4th by most major publications. But I do recognize that this is a win now move, and you sometimes do sacrifice quality prospects in that situation. I try to break down this trade into essentially two trades in one. When you do it this way, it at least makes some sense for the Mets. Given the recent returns for some big time relievers like Craig Kimbrel, Brad Hand and Aroldis Chapman as examples, the cost for big time relievers is high, especially when you are factoring in 4 years of control with Diaz. When all things considered if you look at it as Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista for Diaz that is probably a mild overpay or pretty equal if you were trading for Diaz alone. Trading Bruce, Swarzak for Cano and $20 million is a massive win for the Mets. The only argument you could have is that you wish the Mariners picked up some more money. I was such a big fan of Kelenic that I am concerned about how this deal will look in a few years, but there is absolutely no denying that this first trade of Van Wagenen's era as GM goes with his message that the Mets are in win now mode.

This begs the important question, what is next? The glaring needs remaining on the roster would be an every day outfielder, a catcher and at least one more quality reliever option. There are free agent options like AJ Pollock, Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal, Andrew Miller and David Robertson among others who could fill all of those voids well. I personally believe the Mets should be holding on to Noah Syndergaard, but the vibe I am getting is that it is looking more and more likely that Syndergaard will be moved in the coming weeks, likely with an eye towards filling some of the above needs with major league ready talent as well as restocking the farm system a bit. That would open up a spot in the rotation where the Mets could conceivably go the free agent route and look at a J.A. Happ or Nathan Eovaldi or hit the trade market for someone like Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer.


Either way, as one source told me: "Strap in. This is going to be a wild off season for the Mets." You have the right to have whatever opinion about the Cano and Diaz trade that you want, but realize that this team is far from done doing things. Van Wagenen is out there having some aggressive talks and lets see what the final puzzle is. This trade was the first step in an attempt to contend in 2019, lets see what is next.

What do you think?

 

 




Joe DeMayo
Joe DeMayo

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T7L contributing blogger - Follow Joe on Twitter




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