Brodie Van Wagenen has made his first big splash as New York Mets general manager, agreeing to terms to acquire veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and star closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
The Mariners will also be sending $20 million of the remaining $120 million owed to Cano over the next five seasons.
In return, the Mets have sent veteran outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak along with prospects Jarred Kelenic, Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn to the Mariners.
New York was able to unload the remainder of Bruce and Swarzak’s contracts, the two combining to make a combined $34 million over the next two years (Swarzak will be a free agent after the 2019 season). Subtract that figure from the $20 million received from the Mariners and the Mets will pay Cano $63 million over the remainder of his contract.
Cano will be entering his 15th MLB season under plenty of controversy. The 36-year-old is fresh off a 2018 season in which he was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Upon his return, he batted .303 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI.
Regardless, he is one of the best-hitting second basemen in the game, a reputation he built over nine years with the New York Yankees before signing with the Mariners in 2014. A career .304 hitter, Cano 22 home runs and 88 RBI per season since 2005.
Cano will immediately be projected as the Mets’ starting second baseman in 2019 while Jeff McNeil, who the Mets managed to save from being sent to Seattle, will likely move to third base.
In order for the rebuilding Mariners to shed Cano’s big contract, they had to attach Diaz in the deal. The 24-year-old righty has become one of the best closers in the game which obviously fills a huge void within the Mets roster as an offseason priority was building up the bullpen.
Diaz led the majors with 57 saves in just his third MLB season last year to go with a 1.96 ERA 73.1 innings pitched.
It’s a steep price for Van Wagenen and the Mets to pay though considering both Kelenic and Dunn were top-five prospects in the organization’s farm system. The move suggests that the general manager will hold true to his word upon being introduced earlier this offseason as he is in a win-now mode. Both Cano and Diaz will immediately be able to contribute to the cause while Kelenic and Dunn are years away from making the jump to the majors.
In said win-now mode, this could only be the tip of the iceberg for Van Wagenen’s first offseason with the Mets as they could be one of the more aggressive teams heading into winter meetings.