Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz will both help the Mets win games in 2019, but New York is too far away from contention to justify the price they paid.
Brodie Van Wagenen is clearly determined to mix things up with the Mets this winter. Swinging a big deal with the Mariners to bring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York will certainly help him accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, the Mets aren’t in a position to capitalize on the short-term gains this deal will provide the organization.
The final terms of this deal have the Mets sending Jay Bruce, Justin Dunn, Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista to Seattle in exchange for Cano and Diaz. The Mariners will also send New York $20 million as a part of the deal. The trade won’t be formally completed until all of the physicals are completed early next week.
In the short-term, this is a nice win for the Mets. Cano figures to take over for Wilmer Flores at first base. Next season that should give New York’s offense a solid lift. Cano isn’t the MVP candidate he was when he first left New York for the West Coast, but he’s still an above average hitter.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Cano is still being paid like a superstar. That’s a big reason the Mariners are writing a big $20 million check to push the trade through. That will help defray Cano’s cost, but he still is owed $120 million over the next five seasons. Cano’s contract is going to become a real burden for the Mets as they try to add talent in the future.
The real prize here for the Mets is Diaz. He’s an electric closer who will just be 25 next season. It’s easy to project him as New York’s closer of the present and future. The team did struggle to close out wins after dealing Jeurys Familia to Oakland ahead of last year’s trade deadline.
Unfortunately, the Mets just aren’t good enough to derive great value from a win now move. Cano will improve the team in 2019, but it’s very possible he will be an average player starting in 2020. At the very least, he’s not going to be a player who is viewed as a real positive.
Diaz is something they can build around, but having a dominant closer is only really beneficial when you’re ready to contend for the playoffs. The Mets finished 13 games behind the Braves in the NL East standings last season. This deal doesn’t push them into the conversation about preseason favorites in their own division.
The worst part about this deal for the Mets is the price they paid to acquire these two big-name players. Jay Bruce may be the biggest name headed to Seattle in the deal, but he’s definitely not the best asset. Kelenic and Dunn are rated by MLB as New York’s No. 3 and No. 4 prospects. It may take a season or two for them to impact the Mariners, but both guys have flashed star potential during their professional careers.
This trade could prove worthwhile to the Mets if they can claw their way into playoff contention next season, but that’s a huge gamble by the team’s front office. The organization should have been focused on acquiring solid, long-term assets this winter. Their decision to try to grab some positive headlines may come back to bite the franchise in the future.