Getting the Deal Done
After a week’s worth of rumors and innuendo, the Mets and Mariners finally agreed to their blockbuster trade on Saturday and Robinson Cano reportedly agreed to waive his no-trade clause.
There are still a few minor hurdles that need to be cleared in order for the deal to become official -- all players involved must pass their physicals, and the commissioner's office has to approve of the financial aspects. All of that is expected to be done on Monday, after which the trade will be formally announced.
There have been a few moving parts along the way, but here’s the breakdown of the official trade:
The Mets will receive Cano, Edwin Diaz and $20 million in salary relief. In exchange, the Mariners will take on Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak (and their contracts) while receiving prospects Justin Dunn, Jarred Kelenic and Gerson Bautista.
The Mariners and general manager Jerry Dipoto weren’t kidding when they said a few weeks ago that they were willing to listen to offers for anyone on the club and were planning a full rebuild. The first domino fell when Mike Zunino was traded to the Rays and it continued when James Paxton was shipped off to the Yankees. Now Cano and star closer Edwin Diaz are on their way out the door. Expect that other high-salaried Mariners -- Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon -- to potentially be moved next.
It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Bruce and/or Swarzak, whose contracts they are taking on in this trade, be flipped elsewhere before the start of the season.
The two big gets for the Mariners, in terms of restocking their farm system, are Kelenic and Dunn, the third and fourth ranked prospects in the Mets’ system according to MLB Pipeline.
Kelenic, a 19-year-old outfielder who was the Mets’ first round selection in the 2018 draft (6th overall), slashed .286/.371/.468 with six homers, 42 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 56 games between the Mets’ two Rookie League squads in 2018. Not bad for his first taste of professional baseball as an 18-year-old.
Dunn, their first round selection from the 2016 draft (19th overall), posted a 3.59 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 156/52 K/BB ratio across 135 ⅓ innings between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghampton in a breakout 2018 campaign.
For the Mets, it’s really going to come down to how well Cano and Diaz perform to see if this trade winds up being a win in the long run. Given the current landscape of the free agent market, it’s fair to wonder if they would have been better served by signing a closer like Jeurys Familia or David Robertson, keeping their prospects, letting Jeff McNeil play second base, and looking for an upgrade at third base on the open market.
The Mets are also going to be on the hook for a large contract for Diaz eventually. Though he’s under team control for four more seasons, he’s going to command a substantial raise through arbitration, especially with the massive save total (57) that he amassed during the 2018 season.
Shipping Out Segura
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported late Sunday that the Phillies and Mariners were in serious discussions regarding shortstop Jean Seagura, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today chimed in after 11:00 PM that the two sides had reached an agreement in principal.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network added in that Segura is expected to waive his no-trade clause and the deal is expected to be announced on Monday.
The only piece known to be heading back to the Mariners in the deal is shortstop J.P. Crawford, who was highly-coveted by Jerry Dipoto and company. The 23-year-old has floundered in his time at the big league level over the past two seasons, but he remains one of the top young shortstop prospects in all of baseball.
Jon Heyman of Fancred noted that there have been rumblings of the Phillies' desire to include Carlos Santana in the deal, but that the Mariners may balk at taking on that additional salary.
For the Phillies, they land a dynamic talent to add to the middle of their lineup, and one who is under team control through the 2023 season at a relatively affordable rate. Segura is coming off of a year in which he hit .304/.341/.415 with 10 homers, 63 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 586 at-bats.
His fantasy value should take a leap forward, moving away from the spacious confines of Safeco Field into the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park.
Nightengale also notes that despite agreeing to acquire Segura, the Phillies are still interested in signing Manny Machado to play third base. That goes along with their interest in superstar Bryce Harper and top free agent starter Patrick Corbin. it sounds like it could be a fun offseason for Phillies' fans.
Mets Not Done?
With the Mets making this deal with the Mariners, they’re making a clear statement that they’re going for it this season and have no intention on closing their window to be competitive. And if they’re going to be going “all-in”, this can’t be the only move that they make, right?
It sounds like there could be more moves on the horizon.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported Sunday that the Mets have talked to the Indians about a possible trade for star right-hander Corey Kluber.
The Mets' trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz hasn't even been officially announced yet, but new GM Brodie Van Wagenen is eager to make another impact move. It's fair to wonder what pieces the Mets could legitimately offer, as the Indians would surely like to get a major-league caliber outfielder in addition to salary relief. Brandon Nimmo would certainly qualify, though he's needed in the Mets' outfield at the moment.
There have also been rumblings that the Mets are listening to offers on Noah Syndergaard, which could open up some flexibility to make other moves, and may make sense if they’re able to land Kluber.
Nationals land Gomes
One of the biggest weaknesses for the Nationals the past few seasons had been the production that they received behind the plate.
In an effort to rectify that, they went out and signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $10 million deal in November. They noted at the time though that they were not finished, and would be looking to bring in another backstop to share the load with Suzuki.
Gomes, 31, is one of the top performing offensive backstops in the league, coming off a 2018 season in which he slashed .266/.313/.449 with 16 homers and 48 RBI. He's also under team control through the 2021 season as the Nationals will hold a $9 million option for 2020 and an $11 million club option for 2021.
Friday was the deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to players on their 40-man roster for the upcoming season, and most of the likely candidates to receive one did so.
There were a few surprises in the bunch though of players who were left out in the cold and will now be looking for work at the upcoming winter meetings.
Hunter Strickland - Strickland was only expected to earn $2.5 million through arbitration, so it's a pretty big surprise that the Giants opted to non-tender him. The 30-year-old hurler owns a career 2.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 211/79 K/BB ratio over 226 innings at the big league level. He should be one of the most attractive free agent relief pitchers on the open market this winter.
James McCann - The rebuilding Tigers have opted to part with their starting catcher rather than paying him the $3.5 million or so that he would have earned through arbitration. Despite the fact that he's coming off a disappointing 2018 season where he hit just .220/.267/.314 with eight homers and 39 RBI in 468 plate appearances, McCann could still be able to land a starting gig elsewhere this winter.
Alex Wilson - Another case of the rebuilding Tigers not wanting to pay a salary raise in arbitration. Wilson was very dependable in his four years in Detroit though, compiling a 3.20 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 263 ⅔ innings.
Matt Bush - The 32-year-old hurler, and former top overall pick from the 2004 draft, Bush is set to miss the first half of the 2019 season while recovering from elbow surgery. Since transitioning to the mound, he boasts a 3.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 138/47 K/BB ratio across 137 big league innings. Given the lack of quality bullpen options around the league, there should be plenty of teams willing to give Bush a shot on an incentive-laden deal.
Matt Shoemaker - He was limited to only 31 innings in 2018 due to health issues and was set to make north of $4 million through arbitration, so the Angels figured they were better served by saving the money and letting him explore the free agent market. He makes for an interesting buy-low opportunity.
Jonathan Schoop - This move doesn't come as a big surprise after Schoop hit just .202/.246/.331 over 46 games with the Brewers and struggled to crack their lineup during the postseason. It still adds a very valuable hitter to a free agent pool that looked to be thin at the second base position. He was set to earn over $10 million through arbitration.
Avisail Garcia - Garcia made the All-Star team in 2017, but he fell back to earth in 2018 with an ugly .236/.281/.438 batting line. He's also a poor defensive outfielder and has been injury-prone. Thus, it's not a surprise that the White Sox have decided to let Garcia walk rather than pay him a raise in his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Billy Hamilton - Despite the facts that he’s an unbelievable baserunner and a phenomenal defender in center field, Hamilton just wasn’t able to get on base enough to remain an everyday player in Cincinnati, and he wasn’t going to be worth the nearly $6 million that he would have earned through arbitration. He’ll make for an interesting addition if a forward-thinking club can figure out a way to best utilize his skillset while keeping him out of the batter’s box as much as possible.
American League Quick Hits: According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde and Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol will interview for the Orioles' managerial vacancy… Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman noted in an interview with the YES Network that Gary Sanchez is “not for sale”... Rustin Dodd of The Athletic reports the Royals' asking price for catcher Salvador Perez "is so exorbitant that no team would meet it."... Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Indians are in discussions with Carlos Carrasco about a contract extension… MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that the market for Nathan Eovaldi is "heating up" and the Astros and Red Sox are "viewed as two of the leading contenders."... The White Sox acquired Alex Colome from the Mariners for Omar Narvaez. Colome had been in line to step into the M’s closer’s role in place of Edwin Diaz, but will now battle for saves in Chicago instead.
National League Quick Hits: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that A.J. Pollock is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of the five-year, $80 million deal that Lorenzo Cain secured from the Brewers last winter… Howie Kendrick (Achilles) said at Nationals’ Winterfest on Sunday that he expects to be ready for the start of spring training… Sean Doolittle admitted at Winterfest that he’s confident the foot issues that plagued him in 2018 are behind him now… Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo stated the team will try to sign third baseman Anthony Rendon to a contract extension in the coming weeks… Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports the Reds are considering top prospect Nick Senzel as an option to take over center field from the departed Billy Hamilton… Craig Mish of Sirius XM reports that the Cubs have interest in J.T. Realmuto.