The New York Mets acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a package of veterans and prospects on Monday: Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista and Jarred Kelenic. The unusual blockbuster deal was initiated by the Mets’ new general manager and former sports agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
The deal brings high risk, as Cano is still signed for five more years, up until he is 41. But the deal wasn’t made to acquire Cano. The deal was struck to acquire star closer Edwin Diaz, who led the league with 57 saves last season and has four years remaining before he becomes arbitration eligible.
The Mets paid a hefty price to acquire Cano and Diaz by surrendering top prospects like pitcher Justin Dunn and outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who were both featured in the MLB Top 100 prospects list. But ever since he took the position of general manager, Van Wagenen has vowed that the Mets will “win now and win in the future.”
Of course, the trade may come back to haunt the Mets, as Cano is approaching the twilight of his career and Diaz has already been reported to have a bone spur in his elbow. Cano will now man second base for the Mets and Diaz will be slated in as the closer or be used as a high-leverage reliever out of the bullpen, a position where the Mets struggled greatly last season.
Many scouts view Kelenic as a possible superstar, but in reality, he is years away from greatness after completing his first professional season down in rookie ball. Dunn isn’t viewed as much more than a No.3 starter or a future closer once he reaches the big leagues. The window to win for the Mets is now, with the pitching staff still intact and controllable, and this trade makes the Mets better for 2019 than they were if they had just stayed put.
This can’t be the only move the Mets accomplish this season, and Van Wagenen has hinted on more moves to come. There are still many holes scattered throughout the team’s roster. The bullpen still needs to be upgrade: As great as Diaz is, he is only one man. Centerfield is also a position of need with no true centerfielder on the roster.
Juan Lagares is a defensive wizard, but the man can’t hit. Michael Conforto, who played center for much of last season, is more of a left fielder, and Yoenis Cespedes will be out for much of the 2019 season as he recovers from heel surgery. Free agent center fielder A.J Pollock is available.
And finally, the Mets need to upgrade at catcher. The Mets tendered a contract to Travis D’Arnaud, but D’Arnaud, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, is not the prospect the Mets envisioned when they acquired him. The Mets could potentially look to acquire J.T. Realmuto or sign either Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos.
Van Wagenen should be applauded for not being afraid to take risks. He has a vision and is not afraid of the backlash he may receive. For the last several years the Mets have been trying to cover up holes with bandages, but Van Wagenen represents a new sense of hope for Mets fans.
He said it best in an interview with SNY: “One of the things I think this club suffered from the last couple of years is putting a lot of weight into ‘ifs.’”