Alright Mets fans. LOTS to unpack here in what was a crazy past 24 hours. The Mets have agreed, in principal, to a MAJOR trade with the Seattle Mariners. This is Brodie Van Wagenen’s first major move as the New York Mets GM, and BOY was it a doozie. Potential franchise-altering stuff. Lets chat about it.
The Mets are trading:
Jay Bruce – Jay was not a fit for this Mets team. He was brought here to be insurance (IMO) for Conforto not coming back healthy. Conforto proved his health in the 2nd Half of last year. Jay was another left-handed OF/1B bat that just wasn’t needed and was taking playing time away from younger talents. They are now rid of his remaining $26 mill over the next 2 years.
Anthony Swarzak – Swarzak was the big free agent pen arm the Mets signed last off-season. His 2018 season was an absolute disaster. The Mets rid themselves of his $8 owed this season, but it might leave a hole in their bullpen now. Overall, I dont care TOO much about this loss, provided they add another arm or two to the pen.
Gerson Bautista – Young Mets arm that was in the minors and was acquired for Addison Reed 2 years ago. Plenty of heat in that arm, but ZERO control. Was still getting knocked around in the minors last year and has yet to figure it out. Not a bad loss unless he does figure things out.
Justin Dunn – This is where things start to sting a bit. You have to give a little to get a little though, so I am okay with giving up Dunn, who is coming off his best year in the minors. He may be turning the corner, but his upside was never more than a #3 starter, so I am not going to lose a ton of sleep over this. He was the Mets #4 prospect. Tough loss, but can be overcome.
Jared Kelenic – This player is the biggest point of contention with the trade. Last year’s #6 overall pick and a bat with the highest upside in the Mets system, Kelenic has been seen by many scouts to have above-average to possibly star potential. Now, if he reaches that status, which, from what we have seen from MANY prior Mets prospects (and prospects in general) is far from a given, this will look like a very lopsided trade 3+ years down the road. Such a prospect should not have been needed to take Cano’s contract and Edwin Diaz off of Seattle’s hands. Time will tell if this was a HUGE mistake or not. Kelenic is currently the Mets #3 ranked prospect, but most would say has the highest ceiling.
The Mets are getting:
Robinson Cano – The Mets are getting a perennial All-Star second baseman in Robbie Cano. While his fielding has slowly been slipping in recent years, the 36-year-old can still swing that bat. The elephant in the room is that he is fresh off an 80-game PED suspension last year. My thoughts on that? As long as his performance isn’t effected, I could give two shits. He came back after his suspension and was still mashing the ball. If that is the Cano we are getting next year, that is the big bat the Mets have DESPERATELY needed in the middle of their lineup.
Why are the Mariners unloading an All-Star (last appeared in 2017) 2nd basemen then, you ask? Well, they wanted to unload his MASSIVE contract. The Mariners appear to be in rebuilding mode and saw no sense in paying such big money to a guy that is not going to be helping them contend for the playoffs. Makes sense. The REASON why the Mets are taking on his salary is because the Mariners have, reportedly, agreed to chip in $60 million dollars along with taking on Bruce/Swarzak salaries. So essentially , the Mets will be paying Cano, in what amounts to, a 5-year $60 million dollar deal. That is great value if Cano plays up to what he played at when he came back late last year from his suspension, which is 3.2 WAR.
Quick Sabermetrics lesson: WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement. That means Cano was playing at a level that is over 3 wins more than a person that would be replacing him. For context, a player with a 3-4 WAR is usually a Good Player. 4-5 WAR is an All-Star. Mike Trout is playing a 10 WAR.
In the end, the Mets have signified that they are a WIN NOW team with this move and have gotten their middle-of-the-order bat they desperately coveted. Now, if Cano’s play falls off next year and going forward, this trade will look disastrous. If his play can hold up at above 2 WAR for the next 2-3 years, this will be a worth while trade.
Edwin Diaz – Here is the KEY part of what the Mets are getting back. Diaz is coming off of a 57-save career year where he posted a 1.96 ERA. For reference, as a reliever, he came in 8th in the Cy Young voting, 18th in the MVP voting, was an All-Star and had a 3.2 WAR, which is crazy good for a closer. All of this was done at the ripe age of TWENTY FOUR. The Mets are getting a cost-controlled Top 5 Closer for the next 4 years. Diaz was only the 4th relief pitcher in MLB history to post 120+ K’s and less than 20 walks in one season. The Mets now have their closer of the future. You could argue that the Mets could have spent money on the numerous closers and not given up their top hitting prospect. That is a VALID argument, but nobody on the market was as good last year as Diaz was and none have the value going forward that he provides from a cost+performance standpoint. Kimbrel, Britton, etc. all have pretty big question marks and most of the options are 30-years old or older. I LOVE this add and the Mets have gotten, what could be, the best closer they have had in franchise history.
Mr. Glass-Half-Full Take:
The jury is still out on who has won or lost this trade. The true answer to that will not be determined this year, next year, but rather 3+ years down the line when Dunn and Kelenic break into the majors and perform. For right now, the Mets have a better team then they had last year. They have upgraded the Closer and 2B positions, and can now bump McNeil to a Util guy that could start at 3B if Frazier struggles next year.
Now if Cano goes off the deep end and father time catches up to him in the next year or two, BVW’s first move will be a HORRIFIC one. At the same time, you can’t argue that this was not an aggressive move. Met fans that have been clamoring for outside the box thinking cannot look at this move and say “Same Old Mets”. That is far from the case here.
Now, I say that to say that this move CANNOT be the last move the Mets make to improve their club. This move signifies that the Mets SHOULD be contenders now by giving up major pieces of the future. This trade should also signify that the Mets should NOT trade Noah Syndergaard, who has been rumored to be on the block. If you want to win now, you need to keep Thor on the team and you need to go out and make more moves.
Sign another big reliever (Britton/Miller), sign a right-handed bat (AJ Pollock) to play Center Field, and bring in a viable Catcher (Grandal, Ramos, Gomes). They have created salary relief for this year and have plenty of cash to throw around. DO NOT put that money you got back in your pockets Wilpons. That is not how this works.
BVW needs to keep up the creativity and keep on the Wilpons to further improve this team. If he does not, this trade can go from acceptable to downright horrific REAL quick. Met fans are already torn on this as we speak, do NOT give them more ammo to turn on you this quick Brodie.
Side Note: The Mets need to decide today whether or not they want to tender Travis D’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores. I am perfectly okay with moving on from TDA, who is a walking injury waiting to happen. Get me a new catcher! Don’t care either way what they do with Flo, but with the Cano acquisition, he becomes expendable and won’t be torn up about him leaving. If he stays, hes a great UTIL guy for the bench that is a proven clutch hitter. Won’t lose too much sleep either way.
Ya Sas (Goodbye in Greek),