The deal is done. After a long wait as the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners sorted through money issues and physicals, the blockbuster trade sending Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to Flushing is completed. The Mets are paying a steep price in prospect talent, giving up first round draft picks Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to facilitate the trade, but they also gain a lot of present day value in the deal. The trade not only gives the Mets two All Star caliber performers in Cano and Diaz, it also removes two useless contracts from the roster in Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak.
This deal also sets an aggressive tone for new General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and it is a welcome change from the end of the Sandy Alderson era. Alderson deserves credit for helping build the Mets’ 2015 pennant winning roster, but he also displayed a tremendous lack of creativity over his final few years as GM. The Mets didn’t really give Alderson a ton of financial flexibility to add to the roster, but he spent far too much time shopping for bargains that ended up producing dead weight on the roster such as Bruce, Swarzak, and Jason Vargas. Van Wagenen’s first major personnel move wiped away two of those bad deals in a creative fashion, effectively keeping the payroll cost neutral while upgrading massively in talent. Cano and Diaz are huge upgrades over Bruce and Swarzak, and the fact that Van Wagenen made this big a move early indicates he clearly isn’t done tweaking the roster.
The Mets have been linked to a lot of potential trade rumors or free agent signings in recent years, but under Alderson they far too often found reasons not to complete deals. This trade is a sign that rumors surrounding the Mets need to be taken more seriously under Van Wagenen, who clearly has a plan that he is operating under with an eye towards building a team that can win the National League East in 2019. It’s unclear at this point if ownership is permitting a big payroll increase, but Van Wagenen clearly wants to make more effective use of the team’s payroll than what it was towards the end of the Alderson regime.
So far this winter, the Mets have already been tied to Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado, Corey Kluber, Nathan Eovaldi, J.A. Happ, Andrew Miller, David Robertson, and J.T. Realmuto at minimum. There has also been a ton of smoke surrounding rumors of a Noah Syndergaard trade, where Van Wagenen may look to move the talented young righty for either several young players who can fill holes in the big league roster now or prospects he can use to add more pieces to the mix. The Mets have already made a bold move now, and that is far earlier in the offseason than they have done anything in recent years.
It’s fair to wonder if Van Wagenen didn’t properly utilize his assets in the Cano trade, especially in regards to Kelenic’s inclusion, but he does deserve the benefit of the doubt to see what the rest of his vision entails. It’s hard to forget that just a few months ago we were begging the franchise to pick a direction and either go all in or all out. Van Wagenen is clearly going all in, and it’s nice to see that the Mets are actually trying to aggressively fill their needs instead of sorting through the scraps left by other teams in free agency. Once the Mets hit spring training we will have a clearer vision of Van Wagenen’s master plan, but the fact that the Mets have one now is very intriguing.