Buckle Up, Y’all. The Hot Stove is about to seriously heat up.
With the Atlanta Braves already making moves to solidify their reign as NL East Champs for the near future (or at least until the Phillies land Mike Trout in 2021), the Mets decided enough was enough.
Sure they have a brand new General Manager, and sure they have the reigning Cy Young on their roster, but no one outdoes New York. No way. There’s no way in hell, the Mets weren’t going to let Atlanta run away with the 2019 division based on speculation. No one over speculates like the Mets.
So they brought themselves into the kitchen and fired up the stove. Strap in for a dose of that good old fashioned #UnbridledOptimism, because the Mets and Mariners have discussed a trade for Robinson Cano.
Yeah. I know.
Now, normally, I don’t fall for this kind of foolishness. This kind of speculative nonsense is 100% ramped up due to the inactivity of the offseason. It’s a slow newsday everyday for baseball writers during the offseason. Hell, last year at this point, I was sure the Mets would sign Lorenzo Cain, not knowing the fever dream of sadness and inaction that would come before Pitchers and Catchers reported.
So when the Mets are reportedly aggressive about landing Cano, my ears perk up. Why?
BECAUSE I LOVE THIS DEAL.
The Mets have had a problem at second base since they spurned Daniel Murphy, putting their hopes in Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera with a touch of José Reyes in there for good measure. The Mets just haven’t had the same success as they did with Murph. So how does Cano fit into the Mets infield?
Cano’s got a big bat for a second baseman. Yes, he missed a chunk of games for the M’s in 2018 due to a PED suspension, but it’s not like he hasn’t delivered in Seattle. On the contrary, he’s lived up to the hype.
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Not terrible for his time as a Mariner. Cano was never going to match the success he had with the Yankees teams of the mid-2000s and early 2010s, simply no way he could have done that. Cano went from a team where he was a piece of the puzzle, to a team where he was THE piece to the puzzle. Whereas in Queens, Cano would be a missing piece to an already partially formed roster.
Then there’s his contract. The language that’s ben kicked around is that the Mariners would retain $50 million of the remaining $120 left on Cano’s contract. The full amount the Mets would be taking on is $14 million over 5 years, totaling $70 million dollars.
The Mets paid Neil Walker more than that in 2017, and will pay Jay Bruce that same amount for the next two years. They also paid that same amount to Curtis Granderson during his time in Orange and Blue. Think about which players have more value than the others. This is a steal of a deal.
The biggest issue being discussed around the Cano trade is whether he’s a better option than Jeff McNeil. If Cano weren’t on the table, McNeil is the Opening Day second baseman. That’s fact. So where does Jeffy Baseball fit on a Mets team that boasts Robinson Cano?
Right where he is now.
Robinson Cano is a very good fielder, but he’s about to be 36, and that’s going to hit him square in the legs at some point. So why not take this moment to shift him to third? Cano was only going to be a second base option in Seattle, thanks to Kyle Seager, but the Mets afford him a chance to switch positions. And after the departure of David Wright, and the implosion of Todd Frazier, the Mets need someone solid at the hot corner.
But this deal doesn’t work if McNeil is let go, which is an idea that is trending currently.
So is Cano an upgrade from McNeil? Yes and no and there’s no way to tell with McNeil’s sample size. But I do believe that Robinson Cano is a better option than Todd Frazier.
Speaking of contracts the Mets need to get rid of, let’s talk about Jay Bruce.
Jay Bruce, had the same issue when coming to the Mets, that Cano did when he signed with the Mariners. Bruce was a piece of the puzzle in Cincinnati, but could never rise to the occasion of being THE piece for the Mets. At this point, Jay Bruce is creating a logjam, not for players in the farm system, but for players currently on the roster.
Imagine your perfect Mets outfield, not this year, but next year. That outfield becomes Cespedes in Left, Nimmo in Center and Conforto in Right. Keeping Jay Bruce on the Mets stops that from happening. Because in two years, he’ll still be on the roster, flipping between right and first, also stopping Dom Smith and Peter Alonso from taking reps at first.
Jay Bruce is a problem the Mets need to solve by sending him elsewhere. And the fact that he removed the Mariners from his list of five “No-Trade Clause” teams, is a good sign he’s on his way out.
The other intriguing piece in this proposed, speculative deal is Edwin Diaz. Diaz is straight up nasty, racking up 57 saves in 2018. The Mets need a solid closer. In fact, I would argue that the Mets haven’t had a solid closer since Jenry Mejia got popped for PEDs.
Yes, Jeurys Familia had good runs and a solid season in 2016, but ask yourself, could you trust Familia in the clutch? No. The Mets went into the 9th inning in every World Series game in 2015 with a lead, and they failed to win on all but one occasion.
You can point to Terry Collins, Matt Harvey and Daniel “Am I Bill Buckner?” Murphy, but I choose to ask the question about Familia. Even in 2016, while the Mets failed to hit Madison Bumgarner, a tough ask for any team, Familia failed to get Conor Gillaspie out. Gillaspie takes Familia into the bullpen, the Mets are eliminate from the postseason, and I lose sleep for weeks.
The Mets need a closer. They need an elite closer. Edwin Diaz is that guy.
There’s also been a sense that Mets have been working forward in regards to their bullpen. What I mean is the Mets have tried to fix the bullpen by looking at their starting rotation. There will once again be speculation about how the Mets are the best rotation in the league, but as Jacob deGrom’s superficial numbers point out, the bullpen is a failure unlike any other.
So if the Mets are working forward, we see the starters going long and then using a few guys to get to end of the game, or in the ideal case, just a solid closer. However, when we get to a point where the starters need bailing out, the Mets don’t have those guys, or really any guys they can count on. In 2018, the bullpen couldn’t get it done, which meant Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman were relegated to the bullpen to stop the bleeding.
Jerry Blevins insane usage in 2018 should also point to this problem. Coming into the season, Blevins was the most solid reliever the Mets had in the bullpen, despite being a lefty specialist. So when Blevins is getting used beyond that capacity, he’s going to falter, that’s just science. The same could also be said about Gsellman.
So the Mets had no clear path to victory once the starters came out of the game. There was simply no way to stop an opposing team once your starter hands the ball to Mickey. Adding an elite closer, and a few more solid bullpen guys creates a parachute for the Mets late in games. THEY NEED IT.
So who goes with Bruce to the Mariners? What top level prospect leaves the Mets system?
Justin Dunn is the big name that’s being tossed around that really seems to hold some sort of weight in reality. Justin Dunn is ranked #4 in the Mets system and #89 in the MLB, and could potentially be ready for the MLB next year. Dunn’s shown promise at the Single-A
Then there’s the Mariners farm system, which needs some serious rebuilding especially in the pitching department. The top pitching prospects for the M’s were just recently acquired in the James Paxton trade, those guys being Erik Swanson and Justus Sheffield. Adding Dunn to that list would give the Mariners an additional pitching prospect and an additional young arm, something they also desperately need.
If the Mariners are going to sell off their assets they need to become better and younger, if not, what’s this all for?
In the end, this is a perfect match for the needs of both clubs. If there’s nothing that gets you amped about this trade, think of this: The Mariner’s get younger and the Mets finally rid themselves of Jay Bruce.
And that’s all I wanted for Christmas this year.
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