- Unsurprisingly, the Mets aren’t willing to part with both Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in a trade for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports. Moreover, the Mets don’t want to trade young infielder Amed Rosario at all, Heyman adds. As great as Realmuto is, it wouldn’t make sense for the Mets to trade Conforto and Nimmo – their most valuable outfielders – for two years of control over him. Conforto still has another three years of control left, while Nimmo has four more – including a pre-arb season in 2019.
- More on the Mets, who – along with the previously reported Chili Davis – have added Chuck Hernandez and Luis Rojas to their coaching staff, Heyman tweets and the the team has since made official. Hernandez will be their bullpen coach, while Rojas will serve as a quality control coach. Hernandez worked as the division-rival Braves’ pitching coach from 2017-18. They dismissed him after last season.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has suggested he’s inclined to keep right-hander Noah Syndergaard, but some teams believe they’d “absolutely” deal him “for the right offer,” Buster Olney of ESPN writes (subscription required). The Syndergaard situation has been among the most interesting storylines of the young offseason, and it appears it’ll remain that way with the aggressive Van Wagenen set for his first Winter Meetings atop the Mets. With three arbitration-eligible seasons remaining, Syndergaard is one of the most valuable players in the game, which has led to heavy interest in the 26-year-old this winter but could also influence New York to go forward with him.
- The Dodgers are also “all in” on the catcher market, as are the Astros and Mets, Olney reports. Any of those teams could find its answer with Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli, for whom the Pirates are willing to consider offers, according to Olney. Cervelli is coming off an impressive 2018, but as a soon-to-be 33-year-old who’s expensive ($11.5MM), down to his last season of team control and has a startling history of concussions, the low-budget Pirates may be willing to go in another direction.
- With Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly on the outs in Los Angeles, the Mets figure to at least inquire on the 28-year-old, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Puig would give the Mets another right-handed outfielder, which is on general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s wish list, without having to make a long-term commitment. He’s only under control for another year, at a projected $11.3MM.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen made clear yesterday he intends to make further improvements to the roster. Last night, he indicated that free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock could be a realistic target.
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Van Wagenen said that the Mets are in contact with Pollock’s reps about a possible match. Pollock “fits us really well,” says Van Wagenen, who added that he’d continue to engage on Pollock — though it’s “unclear at this point” whether anything will come to fruition.
It’s hard not to see the connections between this interest and the Mets’ reputed push to land catcher J.T. Realmuto. That deal might well cost the team a high-quality young outfielder — Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are said to be in the conversation with the Marlins — who could in theory be replaced by Pollock.
Of course, that’s quite a juggling act, and a purely speculative one at this point. But it’s possible to imagine that it’d leave the Mets particularly interested in a true center fielder, with the roster space to accommodate. (Pollock would fit just fine with Conforto and Nimmo flanking him, and Juan Lagares serving as a reserve, though the anticipated mid-season return of Yoenis Cespedes would make for a potential crowd.)
As Van Wagenen says, we’ll have to see where this all goes. But it’s potentially very good news for Pollock that the New York organization has such obvious interest in him. He’ll be stretched to achieve his reported asking price, but pursuit from an aggressive Mets organization could help push his market into gear in the run-up to the Winter Meetings.
TODAY: The Mets are “resistant” on including Rosario in a deal, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). It seems the Marlins have at least some level of interest, unsurprisingly, in Nimmo, Conforto, and Rosario.
All things considered, it does not appear at present as if the sides have settled upon a clear potential deal structure. There could well be other moving parts to getting something done. After all, the Mets would need to fill in for any departing MLB assets while the Marlins could conceivably involve a third team to spin off any acquired MLB pieces.
YESTERDAY, 8:32pm: The Mets have spoken to the Marlins and are at least considering the possibility of including Nimmo as a centerpiece in a Realmuto deal, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. That said, Sherman cautions that there’s no deal close and that the Marlins are still in talks with multiple other clubs.
However, whether that would be enough for the Mets remains to be seen. Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweets that the Marlins don’t view Nimmo as a potential Realmuto centerpiece and would prefer Rosario or Conforto to headline a package of young players instead. That’s at least somewhat curious, given the fact that Conforto has only one more season of club control remaining than Realmuto.
6:55pm: Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that it’s unlikely the Mets would include Conforto in a trade for Realmuto.
5:35pm: Trade chatter surrounding J.T. Realmuto will persist throughout the offseason following the definitive declaration that he won’t be signing an extension with the Marlins. While the Marlins reportedly have a preference to trade Realmuto outside of the division, Andy Martino of SNY writes that the Mets are looking into Realmuto now that they officially have Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz on board. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, in fact, reports that the Mets reached out on Realmuto earlier today and are being “aggressive” in their pursuit (Twitter links).
Newsday’s Tim Healey tweets that the belief is that the Mets would have to include at least one young Major Leaguer in order to pry Realmuto loose from Miami, and Rosenthal suggests the same. (The Mets subtracted a pair of high-end prospects from its system when trading outfielder Jarred Kelenic and right-hander Justin Dunn to Seattle in the Cano/Diaz swap.) Martino speculated that Amed Rosario’s name could come into play, and Rosenthal adds both Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto as the type of talents that could pique Miami’s interest. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Mets would have any actual interest in dealing from that promising young trio. More specifically Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that Rosario and Nimmo would be Miami’s top two targets in talks.
The Mets already tendered contracts to both Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud, though either could be traded elsewhere or designated for assignment anyway, should the organization land an upgrade in the form of Realmuto. (Speculatively, either could also be sent back to Miami as a short-term stopgap in the absence of Realmuto.)
Elsewhere in the NL East (which, to this point, has been the runaway most active division in terms of offseason activity), Craig Mish of SiriusXM tweets that the Phillies have inquired on Realmuto but are considered to be a long shot. The Phils presently have Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp as in-house catching options now that Wilson Ramos is a free agent, and they’ve been aggressive early this winter, already acquiring Jean Segura and James Pazos from the Mariners.
Mish also suggests that the Braves have inquired on Realmuto, although both David O’Brien of The Athletic and Heyman have tweeted otherwise. O’Brien indicates that he was somewhat bluntly told there’s no validity to the report that Austin Riley and Mike Soroka have come up in discussions, while Heyman reports that the Braves haven’t even engaged on any serious Realmuto talks this winter. O’Brien further adds that the Braves have shifted their focus to adding a corner outfielder and shoring up the pitching staff (Twitter links).
Looking outside the NL East, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets that the Rockies have checked in on the catcher — although talks between the two sides, to this point, have failed to progress. Colorado would make a perfectly logical landing spot, though, given that none of Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters or Tom Murphy stands out as an obvious front-line option. The Rockies also have plenty of young pitching — much of it MLB-ready, which would surely be of interest to the Marlins as they continue to build for the future.
It’s worth remembering, too, that the clubs here likely only represent a fraction of the market for Realmuto. Heyman notes that 14 teams have inquired with the Marlins about Realmuto this winter, and while clearly not all of those clubs will be particularly aggressive in their pursuit, the sheer volume underscores how many teams view the All-Star backstop as a potential difference maker. A trade isn’t necessarily guaranteed, but it’s likely that Realmuto’s value is at its apex this winter. The Marlins surely know that their time with Realmuto is limited following comments from agent Jeff Berry and, per Mish, a pair of rejected extension offers of four and five years in length (both at prices that are nowhere near Realmuto’s actual market value).
- The Rays were among the teams with interest in Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link), although Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen strongly downplayed the possibility of trading Syndergaard earlier today. That said, Tampa’s interest in “Thor” is nonetheless notable, as it points to an interest in adding a controllable arm if one can be found at a reasonable financial price point. Then again, as a high-end starter with a projected salary under $6MM and three years of team control remaining, Syndergaard is (or was) something of a rarity on the trade market. Speculatively speaking, perhaps either Michael Fulmer or Jon Gray could be viewed in that same light, but both right-handers are coming off poor seasons, making it tough for their respective organizations to sell low.
The Mets are expected to reach a deal with Chili Davis to make him the club’s next hitting coach, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). He’ll replace Pat Roessler, who was dismissed after the 2018 campaign.
Davis, 58, turned in a highly productive 19-year MLB career in which he only failed to produce at a league-average or better rate over the course of a given season. Since, he has turned to teaching the craft to others. After stints at the lower levels of the Dodgers and Red Sox organizations, Davis became the A’s hitting coach in advance of the 2012 campaign.
Since taking the gig in Oakland, Davis has been a mainstay in the major-league coaching ranks. He has held the same position with the Red Sox and Cubs, though he lasted only a single season with the Chicago organization. Mets skipper Mickey Callaway now has a substantially revamped coaching staff to work with, led by just-added bench coach Jim Riggleman.
The Mets held a fascinating press conference today to introduce recent acquisitions Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz — players who the organization clearly sees as major pieces of the club’s next winning roster. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo was among the reporters to cover the festivities; all links below are to his Twitter feed unless otherwise noted.
New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen offered soaring thoughts on the occasion of his first major move with the club. “I stated that this organization intended to be relentless and fearless in the pursuit of greatness,” he said. “This trade should be a signal to our fans that words alone will not define our franchise.”
Getting a deal done was spurred not only by the team’s own direct interest, but also by a desire to land Diaz before the Phillies could do so. COO Jeff Wilpon indicated the presence of the division rivals in the bidding helped drive the talks. The Phillies ultimately balked at including their best young pitching in a deal for Diaz, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription link). Ultimately, they struck a separate deal for shortstop Jean Segura.
Van Wagenen explained further that an “all-consuming” push over the past ten days or so led to a deal. Though Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto had said he was “inclined to hold onto Diaz” and “told us no a number of times,” the Mets “kept staying on it, kept trying to be aggressive on it” and ultimately made a match after batting around numerous deal possibilities.
Unsurprisingly, the addition of an aging but still-excellent player in Cano and a top-shelf young closer in Diaz seem to portend yet more acquisitions. As Van Wagenen put it, the Mets “did not make this move to be our last move.” Wilpon went into further detail, offering up some internal perspective on the club’s status. The team’s own analytical staff see this move as taking the club from an 83 to 84 win team to one that is a true-talent, upper-eighties outfit. With “a couple more things,” he suggested, “maybe we can be 90-plus.”
As ever, payroll remains a factor. This deal is cash-neutral for the 2019 season, though it does add future dollars. And as ever, there’s an opportunity cost — in this case, long-term spending capacity and the loss of young talent. But the Mets evidently feel they can continue to boost their competitiveness.
Wilpon chatted about the Mets’ financials, explaining that the ongoing efforts to work out a settlement on the insurance coverage for David Wright will hopefully soon result in a deal. Even if the funds won’t come in a lump sum, “some of that will go back to payroll.” Meanwhile, though the coverage on outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is said to be a “little bit less” than the 75% coverage the Mets have on Wright’s salary, there could be some funds flowing back for his absence as well.
It’s still not clear how high the Mets will go in an Opening Day payroll. The club has yet to crack the $155MM barrier to start a season, though even that mark would seem to leave room to spend. Of course, there are still quite a few obvious needs on the roster — as we covered in breaking down the Mets’ offseason outlook. Most notably, the club has a variety of bullpen openings to account for and could still pursue upgrades in the outfield, behind the dish, and perhaps also in the infield mix.
One possibility that has popped up on the rumor mill in recent weeks is a trade involving starter Noah Syndergaard, presumably with intentions of adding multiple youthful assets who could join a still-developing core. The early explorations evidently have not shown promise of resulting in a deal, however, as the Mets now say they are strongly leaning against moving Thor. Per Van Wagenen, only under “very special circumstances” would he “even consider” trading a pitcher who, at his best, is among the top hurlers in all of baseball.
Needless to say, there’s tons to digest from this presser. Taken in conjunction with the trade itself, it sets up the Mets for a fascinating upcoming trip to Vegas for the Winter Meetings.
After several days of anticipation, the Mariners and Mets have made what will surely be one of the offseason’s biggest moves official: Seattle has traded second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz to the Mets in exchange for outfielder Jay Bruce, right-hander Anthony Swarzak, right-hander Gerson Bautista and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn.
Beyond the contractual values changing hands, the Mariners are sending a reported $20MM to the Mets to help offset the remaining $120MM owed to Cano through 2023. That said, the blockbuster swap will still save the Mariners a reported total of roughly $64MM. With the $20MM sum spread in approximately even amounts during the remainder of Cano’s time under contract, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter), the move will leave the Mets’ 2019 payroll in more or less the same position it was beforehand.
It’s a stunning move from multiple angles. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto denied reports early in the offseason that he was considering a tear-down of the Mariners’ roster but, in the month or so since making that comment, has now traded James Paxton, Mike Zunino, Alex Colome, Cano and Diaz — to say nothing of a Jean Segura trade to the Phillies that is reportedly nearing conclusion but has yet to be formally announced.
Meanwhile, the Mets, who’ve typically operated with a far tighter budget than one would anticipate for a club in that market, are taking on a huge amount of money in order acquire Cano and Diaz, and they still have ample work to do to address holes elsewhere on the roster. The deal is all the more fascinating when observing that newly hired Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was formerly one of the game’s most prominent agents and that the largest contract he ever negotiated was none other than Cano’s 10-year, $240MM deal with Seattle.
Cano, who had to waive his no-trade clause to green-light this deal, will head back to the city where his big league career started and figures to supplant Jeff McNeil as the Mets’ primary second baseman. It’s a tough pill for McNeil to swallow after he hit .329/.381/.471 as a rookie, but he should still be in line for plenty of at-bats. The Mets could well give him a significant amount of work at third base, depending on the organizational plans for Todd Frazier, and McNeil has seen brief minor league work at shortstop, first base and in the outfield as well. At one point, the Mets were reportedly debating the possibility of sending McNeil to Seattle as what would’ve been a key part of this swap, and the fact that they were ultimately able to keep him is a critical factor when taking a step back and even attempting to evaluate the complex transaction.
It’s also important to emphasize that while Cano’s contract, like any 10-year free-agent deal or extension, was an obvious overpay at the time, he’s not an entirely sunk-cost acquisition. Though he served an 80-game suspension following a failed PED test last year, Cano hit .303/.374/.471 with 10 home runs through 348 plate appearances on the season as a whole. Some will point to the suspension in an effort to invalidate his output, but Cano was actually better at the plate upon returning from that ban; in 179 PAs down the stretch, he hit .317/.363/.497.
There’s also been plenty of talk about his defense, but the notion that he needs to move to first base because he’s no longer a quality defender at second base carries little weight. Since the 2012 season, Cano has received negative marks from Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating just once (2015), and he tallied +4 DRS and a +2.8 UZR in 561 innings at the position this past season.
Of course, while Cano was still an extremely productive player when on the field in 2018, it’d be foolish to simply expect that he can continue playing at that pace in 2019 and beyond. The eight-time All-Star turned 36 in October, and he’s already outperforming the typical aging curve that one might expect for someone who is well into his mid-30s. While he may prove to be an anomalous exception in that regard, history suggests that Cano’s production will begin to deteriorate sooner rather than later. If the Mets were even able to receive two strong seasons out of Cano, they’d likely consider that a victory. There’s little doubt, though, that the final two to three seasons of Cano’s contract won’t be worth what they pay him — even with Seattle picking up a portion of the tab.
Really, though, the trade was less about the Mets hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with the final couple of productive seasons of Cano. For Van Wagenen and the New York front office, this trade was a means of effectively purchasing four below-market seasons of one of the game’s premier young relievers. The 24-year-old Diaz just put the finishing touches on a historically dominant season — 1.96 ERA, 15.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, 44.4 percent ground-ball rate, 57 saves — and missed arbitration eligibility by a matter of weeks. He’ll make less than $1MM in 2019 and can be controlled for a fraction of his open-market price through his three arbitration years.
However, Diaz won’t be the typical bargain that many associate with arbitration-eligible players. His enormous save and strikeout totals should push him into record-breaking territory among relievers, and it’s conceivable that he’ll be paid in the $8-9MM range for his first arbitration season in 2020 — assuming another productive campaign in 2019. Like most arbitration-eligible stars, he’ll still be highly valuable asset, but the real question of this trade is just how much surplus value comes with Diaz and how confidently one can project him to maintain his dominance. One could argue that the four years of Diaz being acquired by the Mets is worth anywhere from $60-80MM (if not a bit more), and considering he’ll be paid somewhere around half that sum, he’s an extremely appealing commodity.
The debatable question is whether that surplus value is great enough for the Mets to both part with prospects and take on some negative value at the back of Cano’s deal. Obviously, both Kelenic and Dunn are exponentially more affordable than they’d be in an open-market setting themselves, and the Mariners feel that long-term value, paired with the subtraction of a huge financial burden in the form of Cano, are worth surrendering one of the game’s better young arms. There’s no clearly correct answer in that subjective debate. In the end, the Mets feel the up-front value of Diaz’s electric repertoire and the remaining productivity Cano has to offer are the more valuable asset.
That, in fact, is perhaps the most important takeaway from the entire scenario. While much of the summer was spent wondering whether the disappointing and dysfunctional Mets would trade Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and others — thus embarking on a rebuild like the ones the Mariners have begun — the addition of Cano and Diaz at a premium price firmly suggests that Van Wagenen and the Mets’ staff are unabashedly in “win-now” mode. Trade rumblings surrounding Syndergaard persist, though it’s clear that if he’s to be moved in a trade, it would need to be a deal that netted immediate MLB help at another position of need. The Mets are in for a highly active winter, and the organization seems fully committed to keeping up with the emerging threats in Atlanta and Philadelphia, as well as the near-perennial postseason contenders in D.C.
The Mariners entered the offseason with a bloated payroll and an aging roster, but they did so on the heels of an 89-win campaign that saw them firmly in contention for a postseason spot for much of the season. Dipoto and his staff, though, were undoubtedly cognizant of the team’s glaring run differential (-34 at season’s end). Mariners decision-makers were surely aware that there was a fair bit of good fortune that contributed to their sterling record for much of the season. While that reality and a bloated payroll initially led to comments about “re-imagining” the roster in Seattle, the M’s have instead taken a more drastic approach.
It’s a credit to Dipoto and his staff, in some regards, that the team has managed to shed upwards of $100MM in salary obligations (including the projected arbitration payouts for Colome, Paxton and Zunino while also accounting for the contracts they’re reportedly taking back in today’s trades). And, while they’ve stripped away a number of fan favorites and productive veterans from the roster, they’ve also added a significant amount of MLB-ready talent that could soften the blow immediately.
Mallex Smith and Omar Narvaez will be regulars on the 2019 roster, while pitching prospects Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson should both factor into the 2019 rotation at some point (possibly from Opening Day, in Sheffield’s case). Bautista, acquired in return for Cano and Diaz, will be given an opportunity to claim a bullpen spot. Bautista, 23, averaged 96.9 mph on his fastball in an exceptionally brief MLB debut this past season (4 1/3 innings) and has averaged better than 12 strikeouts per nine innings since the Mets acquired him from the Red Sox in 2017’s Addison Reed trade.
And that doesn’t yet factor in the addition of Bruce and Swarzak — two veterans who, while acquired more to offset Cano’s salary than anything, are only a year removed from productive big league seasons that resulted in multi-year guarantees in free agency. While it’s eminently possible, if not probable, that the Mariners will look to trade both, it’s also at least possible that either could simply suit up in Seattle this coming season and perhaps enjoy a rebound. Bruce could unseat Ben Gamel in left field, and the Mariners’ relief corps is rife with uncertainty at present, creating an easy path for Swarzak to work toward reestablishing himself.
Of course, for the Mariners, this trade is primarily about the opportunity to not only add a pair of recent first-round picks in Kelenic (2018) and Dunn (2016) but also simultaneously jettison half the remaining money owed to Cano (for his age-36 through age-40 seasons). That contract was signed under the Mariners’ previous front-office regime and was likely never something Dipoto’s group was excited about inheriting. And Kelenic and Dunn will add a pair of interesting young talents to a farm system that had previously been regarded as one of the weakest in the game — if not the absolute worst.
Just 19 years of age, Kelenic was selected with the sixth overall pick just under six months ago. At one point, the Wisconsin native was tabbed as a potential No. 1 overall pick, and he’s done nothing to dispel the notion that he was a worthy top 10 overall selection since signing. In his brief time with the Mets, Kelenic hit .286/.371/.468 with six homers, 10 doubles, six triples and 15 stolen bases (in 16 tries) across two minor league affiliates. Scouting reports agree that Kelenic has the potential to be average or better in center field, and he’s already ranked comfortably within the game’s Top 100 prospects by MLB.com and Fangraphs.
Dunn, who turned 23 in late September, tore through Class-A Advanced opposition in 45 2/3 innings this season, posting a 2.36 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.39 HR/9 and a 39.3 percent ground-ball rate. His ERA jumped to 4.22 in 89 2/3 innings of Double-A ball, but he averaged 10.5 strikeouts and 0.7 home runs per nine innings pitched at that more advanced level — all while seeing his ground-ball rate improve to 45.1 percent. Dunn did average 3.7 walks per nine innings in Double-A, so there’s some work to do on his control, but he’ll instantly become one of the Mariners’ more intriguing pitching prospects.
In the end, the Cano/Diaz blockbuster, while fascinating, is impossible to accurately judge at present. While everyone will surely formulate his or own opinion of the deal as presently constructed, there are too many trickle-down effects that will prove critical when looking back at the deal down the line. Can the Mariners further unload some of the money owed to Bruce and/or Swarzak? Will either rebound? Is Kelenic a star in the making or one of the countless drops in the bucket of “what could have been”? Will Mets ownership finally give its baseball ops staff the resources commensurate with the team’s market size, or will the addition of Cano’s contract prove prohibitive when pursuing additional win-now maneuvers? All of these will factor into the calculus of this trade when looking back on it six months, a year and five years from now. What’s immediately clear is that this is a legitimately franchise-altering transaction for both organizations — and it’s unlikely that either is anywhere near finished with its offseason roster shuffling.
SNY’s Andy Martino reported last week that the Mets were being “aggressive” on Cano. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that there was “significant momentum” toward a trade that would send Cano and Diaz to the Mets (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Kelenic and Dunn were being discussed and that an agreement between the two teams was close (Twitter links). Martino tweeted details on the package, reporting that Bruce, Swarzak, Kelenic and Dunn would be in the deal, and Bautista could be the fifth player. Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirmed Bautista’s inclusion. Passan added further clarity on the financial component of the trade (via Twitter), while MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that Cano had officially waived his no-trade clause. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweeted the exact package, including the money changing hands.
Dec. 3: The trade is official, tweets Passan. The two sides will make an announcement today, it seems.
Dec. 1, 8:49pm: Cano has indeed waived his no-trade clause, per Morosi. It’ll be Cano, Diaz and $20MM for Bruce, Swarzak, Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista, Heyman tweets. The trade will save the Mariners approximately $64MM, Johns notes on Twitter. It should become official “late Monday,” Sherman reports.
8:10pm: A deal is in place, pending physicals, Tenchy Rodriguez of ESPN Deportes Radio reports (Twitter link via Jon Morosi of MLB.com). The trade could be announced as early as Monday, Martino tweets.
3:38pm: The aforementioned “work” to be done on the deal, per Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, is tri-fold: The commissioner’s office must approve the amount of money exchanging hands in the deal, each player must pass his physical, and Robinson Cano must give official approval to waive his no-trade clause. Per Rosenthal, the trade should be announced “early next week.”
Nov. 30, 6:24pm: The Mariners are only expected to chip in something in the mid-$20MM range to cover Cano’s salary, per Passan (via Twitter). Seattle will still be absorbing the two significant contracts, of course, but it seems the New York org will be paying for about half of Cano’s contract (while also presumptively paying Diaz in arbitration).
Meanwhile, there’s still work to be done on the deal, which Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets will not be concluded this evening.
8:15am: The Mets and Mariners aren’t expected to formally announce anything today, Heyman tweets. That said, Newsday’s David Lennon suggests that the parameters of the deal are largely believed to be in place, so the lack of a Friday announcement doesn’t indicate that there’s any kind of snag in the deal.
Nov. 29, 11:56pm: Bautista would indeed be the fifth piece going to Seattle in the deal, as currently constructed, Sherman tweets.
11:30pm: McNeil will not be included in the trade if it is ultimately completed, per Sherman. Instead, he tweets that the Mets will send Kelenic, Dunn, Bruce, Swarzak and another reliever to the Mariners. Notably, Sherman reports that medical info has still yet to be reviewed, and Cano has yet to waive his no-trade clause (though there’s no expectation that he’ll veto a trade that would send him back to New York City).
10:15pm: It seems that the two sides haven’t quite finalized the group of players who’d head to Seattle in the deal. Martino tweets that the Mets are still “hesitant” to include McNeil and are currently proposing right-hander Gerson Bautista in addition to Kelenic, Dunn, Bruce and Swarzak.
Obviously, that’d be a fairly substantial change to the deal’s perception; Bautista is a flamethrowing young righty with upside, but he’s yet to find success in the Majors or even the upper minors. McNeil, meanwhile, looked like a potential big league regular in his rookie season with the Mets this past season.
Puma had previously tweeted that McNeil wasn’t in the trade as of yesterday, though there’s “some thought that may have changed today,” so it seems as if the organization could be on the fence about whether to ultimately include the promising 26-year-old.
8:40pm: The trade is “expected to be completed by Friday,” tweets Passan. He further clarifies that it’s not yet clear how much money the Mariners would send to the Mets to help offset Cano’s remaining contract. Sending Bruce and Swarzak to Seattle would effectively leave the Mets on the hook for $86MM of Cano’s salary, and it seems fair to expect that Seattle would add some additional cash to help further offset the financial commitment to Cano.
Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that things have advanced to the point where the Mets have begun to formally alert players to the fact that they’re in a deal that is on the verge of completion (albeit not yet 100 percent complete).
8:08pm: The offer on the table, at present, would see McNeil, Kelenic, Dunn, Bruce and Swarzak all head to Seattle in exchange for Cano and Diaz, tweets Martino. He cautions that the two sides have not yet reviewed medical information on the players involved, which always has the potential to throw a wrench into trade negotiations. Heyman tweets that a combination of those names is on the table.
7:11pm: A trade involving Diaz and Cano is close to being agreed upon, tweets Rosenthal.
6:33pm: Sherman tweets that the talks between the two sides are indeed intensifying, adding that the Mariners are now focused on the Mets rather than any other potential trade partners. Both Bruce and Swarzak could be included as a means of helping to offset Cano’s salary, and there are plenty of details to be sorted out, including medical reports and Cano’s no-trade clause.
5:40pm: Talks between the Mariners and Mets are reaching a “critical stage,” tweets Rosenthal. He notes that New York’s offer to Seattle includes some combination (but not all) of Kelenic, Dunn, McNeil, Bruce and Swarzak. That latter pair of names would seemingly be more about offsetting salary than anything else, while the first three are all well-regarded young players who’d provide the Mariners organization with a substantial amount of long-term value.
Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets that talks are indeed accelerating. A deal seems quite likely, per Johns, though the specific names involved are still being sorted out.
5:15pm: The Mariners are talking to multiple clubs about Cano, Diaz and shortstop Jean Segura, Rosenthal tweets. Those negotiations include myriad scenarios, including combinations of those three players as well as standalone deals for each. Similarly, Sherman adds that the Mets are operating with the belief that they’re one of many clubs in talks with the Mariners as they explore trades for combinations of those three as well as standalone swaps.
1:24pm: The teams have discussed scenarios involving both Cano and Diaz individually, as well as package arrangements, per Martino (via Twitter).
10:13am: “Significant momentum” has built toward a deal that would send high-dollar veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and top-shelf young closer Edwin Diaz from the Mariners to the Mets, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Cano has reportedly not yet been asked to waive his no-trade rights, though Passan adds that is not expected to represent a significant hurdle.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post characterizes things somewhat differently in his own series of tweets. His sources indicate that the “Mets do not currently feel like they are close to a deal,” though he also makes clear that the interest is serious. Notably, Sherman suggests that the New York organization still doesn’t have a firm sense of whether the M’s are committed to packaging Cano and Diaz at all. Indeed, indications are that the Seattle org is still engaged with other clubs.
Obviously, the full parameters of this potential swap have yet to be revealed in full. And it’s hardly a done deal. But some chatter about other pieces has emerged as well. Recent first-round draft picks Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn are “under discussion” along with other pre-MLB assets, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). Youngster David Peterson is also in the conversation, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. It’s important to emphasize that there is no specific indication that any or all of these young players is involved in a specific, fully built out scenario that the two organizations are deciding upon. Rather, per Heyman, the sides are tossing around different deal structures, with the Mariners demanding prospect value if they’re to part with Diaz.
Particulars aside, it’s rather stunning to see that the concept — a deal packaging Cano’s $120MM in remaining salary with Diaz — has advanced to this stage. There are certainly shades of the 2015 Melvin Upton/Craig Kimbrel swap here, so there is a clear model to follow, but this new proposal involves somewhat more extreme contract rights. (Upton was owed nearly $75MM less at the time of that swap than Cano is now, for instance.)
Cano is already 36 years of age, and sat out half the 2018 campaign due to a suspension for use of a masking agent, so the five years left on his deal are hardly an appealing proposition. But he’s also still a high-quality major-leaguer. Diaz, meanwhile, is unquestionably the top relief asset that could be had on this winter’s market. Though the aforementioned Kimbrel is an immensely accomplished closer who’s presently available in free agency, Diaz handily outperformed him last year. More importantly, he has the clear edge in youth and cost.
Unquestionably, quite a bit more will be involved in any actual trade than the two players rumored to this point. The Mariners will in all likelihood hold on to some of Cano’s contract and/or absorb a Mets contract in return. And the New York club will surely send back some talent. Those details will determine the ultimate merits of the swap for each club.
We’ll have to wait to learn the details, if anything is actually concluded. But it seems clear even from these reports of intense interest that the Mets are not only chasing the elite young closer, but see an opportunity to capture a some value from Cano, whose contract new GM Brodie Van Wagenen negotiated in his prior life as an agent. The long-time star is clearly not in his prime, but he still hit quite a bit when he wasn’t on the restricted list last year. Presumably, he’d step in at his accustomed second base, a position he can still handle (albeit not at his once-elite levels).
Adding Cano at second would dislodge Jeff McNeil, who emerged last year with an outstanding debut showing. The Mets would still have other options to shift around their infield pieces. It could also be that McNeil would move in the trade. He has appeared in the conversation between the organizations, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo tweets. McNeil already 26 years of age and only just debuted in the majors in 2018, but was one of the most pleasant surprises league-wide in the just-completed campaign. He not only showed off his typically excellent plate discipline, but turned in a notable power surge (as against his prior minor-league track record) and then slashed a hefty .329/.381/.471 in 248 big league plate appearances.
The full potential ramifications, clearly, would depend upon as-yet-unknown specifics. That’s due in no small part to the still-unknown slate of prospects that could be involved and, even more importantly from a MLB roster perspective, the contracts that could head the other way. We’ve heard Jay Bruce’s name thrown around quite a bit as a potential big contract to go to Seattle. Perhaps Juan Lagares would hold more appeal to the M’s, as a defensive stalwart who seems to fit the mold of player that Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto often targets, though he’s not owed as much. Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas, and Anthony Swarzak are among the other costly veteran pieces who could in theory be utilized to facilitate a swap.
For now, then, it doesn’t seem we know all that much more about the realistic possibilities than we have for the past week or so, as Cano/Diaz rumors have permeated the hot stove landscape. Even the level of seriousness of the Mets has been suggested, with SNY.tv’s Andy Martino calling the club an “aggressive” pursuer. Previously, though, it has hardly been evident that there was a realistic path to a trade that would lead to a match. The importance of these most recent developments is that, as Passan puts it, “there is an increasing expectation a trade will get finished.”