Well, it’s official. Like, officially official. Monday afternoon, the Mariners announced a seven-player trade that sends All-Stars Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to the New York Mets.
This doesn’t come as a surprise at all. The trade has been common knowledge for quite some time, but took the weekend for the details to finally be ironed out. With significant money changing hands, no-trade clauses to be waived, and several physicals and reports to sift through, this was one of the more complicated trades you’ll see executed. But the Mariners and Mets pushed it through, and Seattle’s inevitable rebuild has been kicked into high gear.
This is basically two deals jam-packed into one. Firstly, we have Robinson Canó and roughly $20 million in cash heading to the Mets for Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak. Canó, 36, is coming off a season in which he was suspended for the use of a banned diuretic. The eight-time All-Star is entering the sixth year of his infamous 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Jack Zduriencik-led Mariners in December of 2013.
By sending $20 million and taking on the contracts of Bruce ($28 million over two years) and Swarzak ($8.5 million in 2019), the Mariners are on the hook for just a little under half of Canó’s remaining deal.
Bruce, 31, endured an injury-plagued 2018 season that saw him slash a mediocre .223/.310/.370 while hitting just nine home runs in 94 games. In his previous two seasons with the Mets and Indians, Bruce was good for 69 dingers and 200 RBI.
The 33-year-old Swarzak has been up and down for most of his career, but made his mark in 2017 with the White Sox and Brewers. In 70 relief appearances that year, Swarzak posted a 2.74 FIP with a 10.59 K/9. That earned him a nice two-year, $14 million deal with the Mets last offseason, but he was unable to hold up his end of the bargain. While the K/9 remained identical to 2017, Swarzak’s FIP went up to 5.48 and his BB/9 skyrocketed to an abysmal 4.78.
Both players are high-upside veterans with short deals, making them prime candidates to bounce back in 2019 and earn a bit more value on the trade market by the time July rolls around. That will give the Mariners even more opportunity to perhaps shed a little more salary while also acquiring more young talent.
As for the other half of the deal, the Mariners are also sending American League Reliever of the Year, 2018 All-Star, and MLB saves leader Edwin Díaz to the Mets for prospects Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, and Gerson Bautista.
In 2018, the 24-year-old Díaz established himself as the best – and most electric – reliever in baseball, saving 57 games while posting an extraordinary 15.22 K/9 in 73 appearances. His dominance, plus age, plus club control made him one of the more valuable pieces on the overall market, and he didn’t come cheap for a Mets team clearly set on winning sooner rather than later.
The biggest prize in the deal for the Mariners is Kelenic, whom the Mets selected sixth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. The 19-year-old Wisconsin project is a legit five-tool player who’s expected to be a fast riser in any system. Kelenic is currently the 62nd overall prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, though he has the potential to reach the top 10 by the time he’s set to make his MLB debut, if all goes well.
Seattle is also receiving another former first-round pick in 2016’s 19th overall selection Justin Dunn. Ranked 89th overall by MLB Pipeline, the Boston College alum is a converted reliever that has made waves as a starting pitcher. Bolstering a 55-60 grade fastball and a good mix of off-speed/breaking stuff, Dunn has the makeup of an above-average middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Bautista, on the other hand, is the wild card in all of this. While he presents a fastball that can go north of 100 MPH, the rest of his stuff is regarded as subpar. After struggling in Triple-A and a cup of coffee in the MLB in 2018, it’s hard to view him as more than depth for now.
Overall, it’s a solid trade that benefits the directions both teams have decided to take. With the additions of Kelenic and Dunn, the Mariners have revitalized a farm system that has resided at the bottom of the MLB’s food chain for far too long.
Seattle, of course, is still far from being done this offseason. Keep an eye on SoDo Mojo as the madness continues to unfold this offseason!