Most of Mariners nation spent Tuesday following the bizarre rumor of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz possibly being traded to the New York Mets. Yesterday, we spent most of the day telling you why it is unlikely to happen.
But today, we will explore the possibility of what an actual trade between the Mariners and Mets could look like if Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto is dumb enough (or being forced to) take less for his best trade asset just to clear some salary room.
And let’s get this out of the way right now: it won’t be the same BS deal that was proposed by MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd. We already dispatched of that nonsense here. But with a deal of this magnitude, there are numerous factors that we will just be flat out guessing at.
First and foremost, there is the issue of Cano’s contract. The Mariners are halfway through the massive 10-year, $240 million contracts. For you math aficionados, that means Cano has 5-years and $120 million left on his deal. Most teams cannot afford to add $24 million of payroll in a single off-season, let alone for one player. So the Mariners are going to have to eat money.
Andy Martino of SNY reported the parameters of the money being discussed by the two sides:
In the article, Martino states that the Mariners would send $10 million a year to the Mets over the course of the remaining contract. So $50 million total. This figure would make Cano a $14 million AAV (average annual value) player of the next 5 years. In all reality, that makes Cano a bargain.
Yes, he is 36-years-old. Yes, his defense has suffered as a result. However, Cano can still hit. In fact, he was great in 2018, both before and after his suspension, and finished the year with a triple slash of .303/.374/.471 and a 3.2 bWAR in 80 games.
A 6 win season is never easy, but to do it as a 36-year-old would have been impressive. At $70 million over the next 5 years, Cano needs to just provide roughly 10 wins of value total to supersede that total.
The problem with treating Cano’s contract like other bad ones, IE Albert Pujols, is that Cano is still a valuable player. So treating him as a straight salary dump player after eating $50 million would be foolish. Cano is then playing, at the very least, on a fair contract.
With the money part established, let’s take a look at our proposal:
So let’s talk about Jay Bruce. For most of his career, Bruce has been a mediocre big leaguer. Yes, he has immense LH pop but hasn’t gotten on base at a league average clip in quite a while. In addition, he is a bad defender and base-runner. Oh, and he was terrible at the plate in 2018. So why take him?
At $13 million in 2019 and 2020, and with the Mariners eating enough money to make Cano a $14 million player, it makes the two salaries a wash. Which means the Mets cannot try and use the leverage of payroll concerns to downplay Edwin Diaz’s value.
So now that the Mariners and Mets are on basically equal footing, let’s take a look at what the Mets will give for Edwin Diaz.
With a nice farm system and some interesting young”ish” MLB players, I believe there could be a fit. Of course, we start with Andres Giminez, the young shortstop everybody has linked to the Mariners in their version of the “mega-deal”. A good young defender, with a solid hit tool, Giminez could be the cornerstone in a young Mariners infield by 2020. There isn’t much power in the bat, but Giminez is still a nice prospect to add to the system.
In all honesty, Giminez could easily be replaced by Peter Alonso or Jarred Kelenic in this deal. But with the Mariners already having 1B and DH accounted for, and Kelenic at least 3 years away, let’s stick with Giminez here.
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Next in the package is Justin Dunn, the RHP from Boston College who was projected by most to be selected by the Mariners in the 2016 draft with the 11th pick. However, when Kyle Lewis slid to the spot, that plan quickly evaporated.
Dunn is still a work in progress but managed to pitch his way to AA in 2018. With a 95 mph fastball and potential wipe-out slider, Dunn already has 2 above-average pitches. The curveball is an okay pitch and flashes above-average on occasion. Dunn will need to refine his command if he is to stay in the rotation.
Next up, we have Seth Lugo. Lugo is a pitchFX darling, having one of the highest curveball spin rates in the game. We have talked about Lugo at length on this website, long has been a favorite of ours. Lugo transitioned to the bullpen full-time in 2018, and his results were quite good.
Lugo posted a 3.17 xFIP, a 9.15 K/9, and a 46% groundball rate. The Mariners can keep Lugo in the bullpen, or turn him back into a starter. Lugo has 4 years of club control remaining.
In the end, the package above gives the Mets and upgrade over Bruce, a still productive Robinson Cano at a drastic slash to his actual value, and one of the best relievers in baseball for the next 4 years.
The Mariners get about $42 million in salary relief ($14 million each from 2021-2023 after Bruce is off the books), a good but not great SS and RHP prospect, some potential bullpen or rotation depth, and a lottery ticket prospect to consider.
There are a lot of moving pieces in a proposal like this. But a deal between the Mets and Mariners involving both Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz can work if both sides are willing to assume the risk. Obviously, the ideal scenario is that the Mariners and Mets make a Cano deal without involving Diaz, then shipping Diaz off to a team with deeper prospect pools like the Braves.
But with the handicap placed on us for this article, the proposal above could be a blueprint from which to work.