The New York Mets trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz could potentially haunt the franchise for years to come. What if we could rewrite history and take it back?
In recent New York Mets history, one of the most controversial trades is the first big one made by General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Only weeks after joining the Mets, he struck a deal with the Seattle Mariners to land veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and star closer Edwin Diaz. In return, the Mets were able to dump some salary but it also cost them youngsters Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn.
Already, many would like to redo this trade. Even if it meant having Jay Bruce whittle away on the bench or made Anthony Swarzak a member of the bullpen for another year, fans would take back the deal.
It’s a reasonable desire. After all, Cano and Diaz were huge disappointments in 2019.
Meanwhile, Kelenic is on the fast track to becoming a star in the big leagues. He had a tremendous year in the minor leagues during the 2019 campaign, only fueling hatred for this deal further.
What if we could rewrite Mets history and take back this deal? What would have happened in 2019 and what would the outlook of the future be?
We can’t fully know what the 2019 Mets would look like without this trade. Likely, they would have made some other moves to improve the roster with possibly another outfielder or closer option. There’s no telling how good or bad those moves would have turned out. For the sake of this experiment, let’s say they do nothing at all.
In this scenario, Bruce would have remained in right field with the other two spots occupied by Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Juan Lagares. The Keon Broxton trade may have never happened or maybe the team takes a risk and strikes a deal that sends someone else out of New York.
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In the best case scenario, the Mets complete fewer trades, passing on the bad one they made with the Milwaukee Brewers for Broxton. They get plenty of outfield help from what they currently have in tow with the J.D. Davis deal helping to complement the depth. Even if they did add another name, it’s hard to do worse than Broxton.
Given all of the scenarios, we’re essentially swapping Bruce for Cano. In which case, it’s kind of a draw when we consider what each did in 2019.
The bullpen is where things get more interesting. Without Diaz around to stink up the joint, the playoff chances for the Mets are significantly better. I’m just not sure where they would have turned, but with the players they had under control, we may be living in the Seth Lugo closer era.
The not-too-distant future is where the Mets timeline changes most. Because they have Kelenic in the minors, there is an even greater chance the team might move on from Nimmo.
In the winter of 2019-2020, the Mets wouldn’t have too many great opportunities to trade Nimmo for anything to help them immediately. Because he would have still missed a lot of time due to injury even in this rewritten history, his value would be down. It’s in the coming year or two when Van Wagenen may feel more inclined to move on from the happiest man in baseball for help in other areas such as the closer spot.
Finally, there’s one last important consideration. Without Cano on the Mets, there’s more payroll available to spend in other areas. This could go toward an extension or bring in someone through free agency. Cano’s salary is extremely high and would be best used elsewhere even if it’s just on two or three players to help round out the roster.
Just about every scenario in this rewritten history looks equal or better. There’s no guarantee of it. For all we know, BVW spends the money on an even worse performer than Cano.
One thing I do think stays the same is the presence of Jed Lowrie on the roster. The forgotten infielder was a bad fit even with Cano on the club. Take him away, Lowrie is a little more important but still injured.
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The results of this trade are far from over. One season of baseball into it, I have a tough time thinking it’s best for the organization.