Posted on December 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After a week of well-publicized discussions, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are a few dotted I’s and crossed t’s away from completing a blockbuster trade. The Mets are set to receive Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz. The Mariners will also pay $20 million of the $120 million left on Cano’s contract. In exchange, the Mariners will receive outfielder Jay Bruce, relievers Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista, pitching prospect Justin Dunn, and outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic. The deal should become official on Monday after the players pass their physicals and the league signs off on the money changing hands.
Obviously, Cano is the biggest name in the deal. With the Mariners rebuilding, they were eager to part with him and his contract, which has five years left on it. The Mets, of course, are hopeful that Cano has plenty of good years left in him. There are reasons to believe that Cano can still make an impact offensively. However, he’s already 36 and was suspended for a positive PED test last year, so there is plenty of risk in trading for him. Cano also waived his no-trade clause to return to New York after spending most of his career with the Yankees.
Meanwhile, Diaz is actually the player the Mets wanted most. The 24-year old saved 57 games and posted a 1.96 ERA last year. He already has over 100 career saves and is on his way to becoming the game’s next great closer. Diaz is also under team control through the 2022 season, so he’s a long-term solution to New York’s vacancy in the closer’s spot.
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As for the Mariners, they free themselves of Cano’s long-term contract while taking on a pair of bad contracts from the Mets. Bruce will make $26 million over the next two seasons. However, he can still be a serviceable player and help the Mariners at DH and the outfield. He could also be a trade chip this summer if bounces back from an injury-plagued 2018 season.
Seattle will also pay $8 million to Swarzak, who should fill a role in their bullpen after trading both Diaz and Alex Colome. The same can be said of Bautista, who struggled with the Mets in 2018 but clearly wasn’t big league ready. He still has a chance to develop as a late-inning reliever.
In addition to saving some money in the long-run, the Mariners will also replenish the talent in their farm system. Both Dunn and Kelenic are former first-round picks. Dunn is currently the no. 4 prospect in the Mets farm system and no. 89 in all of baseball. He should be ready for the majors at some point in 2019 and has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.
Kelenic is no. 3 in the Mets system and no. 62 overall. He’s a true five-tool player and impressed as a teenager in rookie ball in 2018 after the Mets took him sixth overall in this year’s draft. While a few years away, Kelenic has incredible upside. He and Dunn will immediately become Seattle’s best prospects other than Justus Sheffield, who they when they traded James Paxton to the Yankees.
For the Mariners, this trade continues a fire sale they are conducting this winter. They no doubt preferred to keep Diaz. However, they were willing to do so if it meant parting with Cano and acquiring a pair of top-100 prospects. With Dunn, Kelenic, and to a lesser extent Bautista, they should be pleased with this deal.
As for the Mets, this trade confirms that they are trying to win in 2019. Bringing in Cano with five years and $100 million left on his deal is a huge risk. The price in terms of the prospects they gave up wasn’t cheap either. But the Mets did find a way to dump both Bruce and Swarzak. They also acquired Diaz, their closer of both the present and future. They can only hope that trading for Diaz will make this trade worthwhile in the long run.