Mariners Send Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz To Mets In Megadeal
The Mariners have officially slipped into rebuilding mode, while the Mets have made it clear that they intend to compete in 2019.
The two teams completed their long-rumored blockbuster on Monday, sending multiple All-Stars with large contracts in each direction across the country.
The Mets receive Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, while the Mariners receive Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista and top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The Mets took on the biggest contact in Cano, but also received $20 million from the Mariners and the top big league talent in the deal.
In return, the Mariners received the Mets’ No. 4 and No. 5 prospects among their haul.
Robinson Cano, 2B/1B
Cano’s 2018 season was easily the worst of his long and successful major league career, as he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. But when he was on the field, Cano hit .303/.374/.471. He’s been one of the better-hitting second basemen in baseball for more than a decade. The eight-time All-Star has seen his range diminish as he ages, and he began playing first base last year as a result. With the Mets, he’ll likely play more first base, but New York has been willing to live with less-than-average defense at second base in the past, so it’s not improbable that Cano will spend plenty of time at second base in 2019. Aging curves, especially for second basemen, can be quite steep, but Cano is still a productive player. The Mets are responsible for paying $100 million of the $120 million he is owed over the next five years.
Edwin Diaz, RHP
In Diaz, the Mets acquire one of the best relievers in baseball, and they are getting him on a very favorable contract. Diaz won’t even reach arbitration until after the 2019 season and will not reach free agency until after the 2022 season, so he’s under team control for four more seasons. Diaz dominates hitters with an upper-90s fastball and an equally nasty hard slider. The Mets had one of the worst bullpens in baseball in 2018. While no one reliever can fix that, Diaz will go a long way toward stabilizing late innings for the Mets, and he allows everyone else in the Mets' bullpen to slide one rung down into a lower-leverage role.
Core Mariners Prospects Travel In A Pack
The Mariners stationed most of their top prospects at Double-A Arkansas in 2019 so they could grow together as a group.
Jarred Kelenic, OF
Kelenic was the top-ranked high school position player in the 2018 draft and went sixth overall to the Mets, signing for $4.5 million. Despite that pedigree, Kelenic generates some of the widest-ranging set of opinions from scouts, both those who scouted him in high school and in his pro debut. Some believe Kelenic is a potential frequent All-Star as a center fielder who hits .280 or better with 20-plus home runs per season. Others see him as a well-rounded corner outfielder who projects as a .260 hitter with 12-15 home runs per season. Kelenic was old for the draft class at 19 and comes from cold-weather Wisconsin, which has a poor track record of producing big leaguers, but he shows plus raw power and the plater discipline to post high on-base percentages. As is true with almost any player who has yet to reach full season ball, Kelenic is a high-risk prospect, but he has the talent to project an everyday player. He immediately becomes the Mariners' No. 2 prospect behind Justus Sheffield, and he will begin his Mariners career at low Class A West Virginia in 2019.
Justin Dunn, RHP
The 19th overall pick in 2016, Dunn struggled in his first full season as a pro in 2017 but bounced back in 2018 as he began to better use his 93-95 mph fastball. Dunn’s fastball and slider could both end up being plus pitches, and he mixes in an average changeup that was significantly improved last year—a key part of why he was better in 2018. Long-term, Dunn projects as a potential mid-rotation starter. He was a closer at Boston College and has a fallback as a high-leverage reliever as well. With power stuff and moderate Double-A success under his belt, he could make his MLB debut in 2019.
Gerson Bautista, RHP
Bautista, acquired by the Mets from the Red Sox as one of three prospects for Addison Reed in 2017, climbed from Double-A to Triple-A to the majors last year, showcasing a fastball that averages 97 mph and touched as high as 101 mph. The power-armed Bautista is a pure reliever with a high-effort delivery, inconsistent control and a slider that still needs improvement, but his arm strength is special. He has a chance to open the year in the Mariners' bullpen. Even if he doesn't make it out of Spring Training, he should be in Seattle during the season.
Jay Bruce, OF
The Mariners are acquiring Bruce’s contract more than they are acquiring Bruce. The three-time All-Star is coming off a .223/.310/.370 season that leads to legitimate questions whether he’ll ever be a productive big league hitter again. Bruce has been a low-average hitter for several years, but when his power disappears like it did, he no longer provides much to a big league club. Bruce's range has diminished, but he can still play right field and first base. Bruce has two years and $28 million left on his current deal and was included primarily to help offset the cost of Cano's contract. Bruce doesn’t have much to offer a Mariners team that is focused more on 2021 and beyond than 2019.
Anthony Swarzak, RHP
The Mets signed Swarzak to a two-year, $14 million deal on the heels of his successful 2017 season. His first year with the Mets was somewhat of a disaster, as he missed significant time with oblique and shoulder injuries and was ineffective when he did pitch with a 6.15 ERA. Swarzak’s control deserted him, but his stuff wasn’t far from what he showed in 2017, so there is some hope he could be an effective reliever again in 2019. He’s included in this trade as a salary dump, but there’s a chance he could net the Mariners a modest return at the trade deadline if he has a bounce-back season.