Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
We’ll need years to know the real results from this developing Mets-Mariners blockbuster trade.
But one thing about it is certain, beyond the instant pressure it applies to new GM Brodie Van Wagenen: For the Mets, it’s no cookie-cutter deal straight from the blueprint for running a ballclub in today’s Major League Baseball.
Adding a big-name, big-ticket player like 36-year-old Robinson Cano — one on the way-wrong side of 30, coming off a season in which he sat out 80 games because of a PED suspension — is usually the kind of idea that gives today’s general manager hives, unless the commitment is brief.
Cano has five years left on his contract.
Most teams are eager to “get younger” and “increase athleticism,” to use some hip roster-building catchphrases, especially if they can do it with “controllable assets” and “cost certainty.” GMs chase almighty value in player acquisitions, some at the expense of pennants.
They shudder at the prospect of buying a star’s golden years, which might not be so, um, golden. They don’t want to trade former first-round picks in a deal for an old-timer, even if, like Cano, he just might be an all-timer. Maybe not even if a splendid young reliever, Edwin Diaz, is coming along, too.
So give Van Wagenen credit for this: If the trade happens, his first big move as the Mets GM at least proves that what the club has said about thinking outside the box wasn’t baloney.
As one opposing talent evaluator said of the potential swap, “The way things are today, yeah, it’s a departure. But Brodie is a new GM. They’re looking to make a splash, telling the fans, ‘We’re looking to win now.’
“The Mets feel, with their pitching staff, they’re a win-now team. The window is going to close. I mean, deGrom is 30. People go see stars and their fans have been yelling, ‘Give us something to come see.’ Cano is something to see.”
Maybe Diaz creates some late-inning lightning, too. He struck out 15.2 per nine innings last season and had 57 saves and a 1.96 ERA for the Mariners. Relievers are a combustible lot and Diaz is no guarantee, but the Mets desperately need an elite bullpen arm and he’ll be just 25 in March.
Here’s something else we might be able to glean from this deal: These BVW Mets won’t prospect-hoard.
Yes, controllable young talent might be the game’s most precious commodity. But that does not mean that every prospect, no matter where he fits on a rating list, no matter what glowing quotes are delivered about him, becomes a good Major Leaguer.
That goes for first-round picks, too. Sure, Dwight Gooden was once a first-rounder and he became a franchise icon, recording the highest WAR (53.0) of any Met first rounder. And in 2008, the Mets drafted Reese Havens in the first round and he never made the majors.
Bet some Met fans wish they’d traded Matt Harvey long before they ultimately did.
But if you are fuming over the Mets including Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic in this trade, well, who knows what they’ll become? Yes, there’s risk involved, but right now, they’re both just bright-looking players who have proven nothing at the game’s highest level. Van Wagenen did not draft either prospect, so his drafting-and-developing rep isn’t linked to them.
Some scouts believe Dunn, taken 19th overall in 2016, will struggle with command. His ceiling, one says, is a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. But one scout’s opinion won’t define Dunn’s career. He could become anything, including someone the Mets will regret trading. So could Kelenic, who definitely has hitting tools.
Which brings us to an interesting wrinkle in this deal: It’s a truism around baseball that when a new GM takes over, other teams buzz around looking to trade. The other executives know that the new guy would like to make a splash. Maybe he doesn’t know what’s in the team’s system that well yet.
One executive from another team’s front office called the transition time for a new GM “the most vulnerable time to lose the value of a player.”
It could all be worth it, though. We’ll need seasons of performance and data to know for sure. Right now, it’s a different kind of deal, and for the Mets, who are trying to forget consecutive seasons flush with disappointment, that’s creating plenty of buzz.