After reports and rumors involving a potential transaction was set to take place between the New York Mets and the Seattle Mariners, the two teams agreed on a trade that sends second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Díaz to the Mets in exchange for outfielder Jay Bruce, right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak and right-handed pitcher Gerson Bautista.
Cano already is used to being a star in New York. The former Yankees phenom was a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate. Cano was also a primary contributor to the seven playoff runs the Yankees made while he was there, including the 2009 World Series Championship. For the Mets, Cano fills the second baseman role well; he can be productive at the plate and consistent in the field. A lifetime .304 hitter, the 36-year-old can give the Mets’ lineup some much- needed depth without being a liability on the defensive side.
That being said, Cano is getting up there in age and his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is expected to drop. Expectations should be tempered in terms of his production with the Mets this season. Still, I believe that Cano can sufficiently fill the role of the star hitter that the Mets have desperately needed since the downfall of David Wright. An oft-injured Yoenis Cespedes has not played enough to earn that title.
Though Cano is the more flashy name to casual fans, Díaz is truly the star and steal of the deal. The 24 year old closer has steadily increased in production and effectiveness since his rookie season in 2016, culminating in an All-Star selection in 2018. Díaz’s All-Star nod can be attributed to his MLB-best 57 saves in 73 appearances. For reference, the next closest man, Colorado Rockies closer Wade Davis, recorded only 43 saves.
Díaz cements the bullpen and will fulfill, the Mets hope, the role of stud closer who has proven that he can get the job done at a very high level. Since the team dealt Jeurys Familia to the Oakland Athletics on July 22, there has not been one true closer. Rather, the Mets deployed a platoon of inadequate relievers who gave up leads and blew saves, something fans are used to. Díaz’s overwhelming success at a young age is not commonly found around the league, and the Mets will hope he can continue to save games this year and be the answer to their end-of-game pitching woes.
With these two important acquisitions, the Mets now have everyday players that can be productive at the plate and out of the bull- pen. The puzzle is not complete, though pieces have been added. Dealing top prospects for Cano and Díaz indicates that the Mets are taking an assertive win-now approach. If this is truly the case, then they should look to make a splash in free agency, ideally through signing one more pitcher and a catcher who can make the throw to second.
With a starting rotation featuring pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and 2018 Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, the Mets already have a solid trio of starters. However, southpaw Jason Vargas has simply not lived up to expectations after the Mets signed him during the 2017-2018 offseason, leaving a gap in the rotation.
I think that signing an established starter like right-hander Nathan Eovaldi could bolster the rotation and get the Mets into the contender conversation. Eovaldi, at 28, was a contributor to the Boston Red Sox in the team’s 2018 World Series run. He would probably run the Wilpons a decent amount of money, but he could serve as a very reliable fourth man in the Mets’ starting rotation.
The Mets have been without a reliable and productive catcher since Mike Piazza crouched behind the plate in 2005, and it is time for that streak to end.
Catcher Wilson Ramos, who last played for the Philadelphia Phillies, is a free agent this offseason and I believe he is right to serve as the Mets’ everyday catcher in 2019. A lifetime .273 hitter, the two-time All-Star is fairly successful at getting on base, and he can hit for power as well. Ramos is an adequate defensive catcher, and he would be a valuable addition to the team.
If the Mets’ strategy really is to win now, then the acquisitions of Cano and Díaz from the Mariners is certainly a step in the right direction. If they can manage to sign a couple more players in free agency, such as Ramos and Eovaldi; if outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returns from injury to his previous form, then I can see the Mets as legitimate playoff contenders in the coming season.
Contact Ethan Marchetti at [email protected]