The MLB trade rumor of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz going to New York Mets for the Seattle Mariners has gone from ridiculed nonsense to being agreed to in the span of less than a week, with multiple reports indicating that Cano, Diaz and $20 million will be going to the Mets from the M’s in exchange for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Jarred Kelenic, Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn once medical reports are exchanged and approved.
The Mets and new general manager Brodie Van Waganen get the 36 year old Cano, whose 10 year, $240 million free agent deal after the 2013 season was negotiated by Van Waganen, who at the time was Cano’s agent. Cano put up a 7.3 bWAR season as recently as 2016, but dropped to 3.4 bWAR in 2017, and missed half of 2018 (though while putting up a 3.2 bWAR in that limited time) due to a suspension for PEDs. The Mets will presumably be plugging him in at second base, and betting he will be good for 3-4 wins per year for the next few years, though it seems doubtful Cano will still be a quality player when his deal ends after the 2023 season, when he will be 40.
Along with Cano the Mets land Diaz, a righthanded reliever who has four years of team control left after his breakout campaign in 2018, when he logged a 1.96 ERA and 1.61 FIP in 73.1 IP while striking out a remarkable 124 batters while walking just 17, and leading the majors with 57 saves. The 25 year old was one of the Mariners’ most sought after assets, and while the initial indications were the Mariners wouldn’t deal him, the opportunity to move Cano with Diaz while getting a quality prospect package back was apparently too good to pass up.
With the Mets sending Jay Bruce — due $28 million in 2019-20 and having just posted a sub-replacement-level season — and Anthony Swarzak — due $8.5 million in 2019 after posting a 6+ ERA in a relief role last year — as well as getting $20 million from the M’s, they effectively are getting Cano for $63.5 million over the next five seasons. That’s not a bad price if Cano can continue to be an average to above-average player for the next few years, though as others have pointed out, there’s also a lot of quality second basemen on the free agent market right now, and you could get a player almost as good for much less of a financial commitment. Of course, without taking Cano off the Mariners’ hands, the Mets likely couldn’t have gotten Diaz.
Along with the dead money veterans who the Mariners will be hoping bounce back and can recoup some value, the M’s are getting a nifty prospect package. Kelenic was the Mets’ first round pick in 2018, #6 overall, and is a quality high school bat who some believe can stick in center field. He’s a long ways away, but has star potential.
In Justin Dunn, the M’s get the Mets first rounder from 2016, a righthanded pitcher who just turned 23, and who had a very nice year in 2018, splitting the season between high-A and AA. He misses a lot of bats, though he also walks a few more than you’d like, and gives the M’s a potential impact arm for the upper levels.
Finally, the M’s also land Gerson Bautista, a 23 year old righthanded pitcher who got a brief cup of coffee in 2018 with the Mets, and gave up 6 runs in 4.1 innings in the majors, walking 5 and allowing 8 hits, including 2 home runs. Bautista is a high K, high walk reliever who the Mets acquired from Boston in 2017 in the Addison Reed deal, and is the third piece of the deal.
My initial thought on this is that the M’s probably could have gotten more than Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista from Diaz if they traded him with Cano attached, but moving Cano and getting a chunk of his 5 years, $120 million remaining on his deal off the books was apparently a priority. The Mets now have an old, though still productive, second baseman and an elite closer, which suggests that they should be trying to win now in a division that has the Atlanta Braves as up-and-comers, the Philadelphia Phillies with an interesting group of young talent and a willingness to spend money, and the Washington Nationals as consistent contenders.