When Brodie Van Wagenen took the Mets GM position before the 2019 seaosn, he went to work right away. He immediately put the Mets on all of the back pages and for the first time in a long time, the Mets were getting talked about more than the Yankees. BVW has done a lot of good during his tenure as GM. As soon as he took the job, he went to Arizona to talk with Pete Alonso. Alonso was in consideration for a September call-up at the end of 2018, but ultimately the Mets kept him in the minors. He formed a relationship with Alonso that let him know he was valued. Alonso made the opening day roster, and is the greatest home run hitting rookie of all time.
However, BVW’s highest profile move has backfired pretty badly. He traded top prospects Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic (#12 on MLB’s top 100 prospects list), for closer Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano.
Diaz was just coming off a star season where he saved 57 games for the Mariners. Cano was about to turn 36 and just finished his fifth year of a 10-year contract with Seattle. BVW saw this move as a win now move and thought it would put the Mets at the top of the NL East. Since the trade was completed, Diaz has looked pretty bad. He still has a nasty slider and a 99 mph fastball, but he has been giving up home runs left and right. Cano struggled immensely last season. He only hit 13 home runs, and only accumulated 0.3 WAR.
What does Robinson Cano have left?
Mega deals like the one Cano signed, almost never work out in the team’s favor. He signed the contract after the 2013 season after his 30th birthday. The Mariners got lucky in that they were able to unload that contract. He was never a bad player for Seattle, however, players like him break down quickly and fall off a cliff. Look at guys like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera for comparisons.
Cano showed glimpsed of his old self last season. He took Max Scherzer deep in his first at bat as a Met and became the second Mets player to hit 3 home runs in a home game.
Other times, he looked completely lost at the plate. He slashed .256/.307/.428 in 2019. 2019 was his lowest full season batting average in his MLB career and his second lowest on-base percentage. He looked completely washed and the Kelenic trade was looking worse and worse with every Diaz blown save.
This season however, Cano looks like a different player. I get it is an extremely shortened season, but Cano looks like a different player at the plate. In 2020, Cano has a slash line of .412/.446/.706. He has also hit 4 home runs, including 2 last night against the Marlins.
If Cano, can hit anything close to this over a 162 game season for the Mets, he can be a very valuable player for them. With the DH likely coming to the NL, Cano can contribute to a winning Mets team as long as he continues to hit.
Despite Cano’s success this season, I would undo that trade 10/10 times. I understand Kelenic has yet to make his major league debut, but he has shown to have the makings of a true superstar. He is going to make Mariners fans very happy for at least the next decade. I would love it if Kelenic, Conforto, and Pete Crow-Armstrong were the Mets outfield in a few years, but I have to be happy with 2/3. If Diaz was still the same closer he was in Seattle, I would be less salty about it. Cano has been a fun player to watch this season, but just how sustainable is this success? Father time is undefeated, and Robinson Cano is no exception.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)