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.
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.
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?
With the trade all but done now, how would you grade the #Mets trade?— Joe DeMayo (@PSLToFlushing) December 2, 2018
Give: Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista
Get: Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, $20M cash