After lingering as all but final for days, the Mets’ blockbuster trade with the Mariners became final, finally, on Monday afternoon.
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz officially are Mets. Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista officially are not. The Mets also received $20 million from the Mariners to defray the cost of Cano’s contract.
The Mets will introduce Cano and Diaz at a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Citi Field. Nobody from the team commented on the trade Monday.
Now the Mets can get on to the next one — and the one after that and the one after that. If you need any convincing that general manager Brodie Van Wagenen & Co. are far from done reshaping the roster, remember: The Mets had a losing record and finished fourth in the NL East in each of the past two seasons. And the teams ahead of them in 2018 — the Braves, Nationals and Phillies, in that order — have gotten better this offseason.
In what has been another slow start to baseball’s offseason, the Mets’ division has been a busy outlier.
The Braves made a big splash when they signed third baseman Josh Donaldson, a former AL MVP coming off an injury-plagued year, and catcher Brian McCann to one-year deals on the same day late last month. The addition of Donaldson made them potentially much better at one of their weaker positions. Atlanta plans to turn Johan Camargo, its regular third baseman last season, into a super-utility player.
Washington snagged a pair of potential Mets targets, catchers Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, to upgrade behind the plate. By acquiring Kyle Barraclough (trade with the Marlins) and signing Trevor Rosenthal (missed 2018 because of Tommy John surgery), the Nationals got an early start on attempting to improve their bullpen, perennially a problem for them. Face of the franchise Bryce Harper, a free agent, could very well choose to stay in D.C.
And then there are the Phillies, who are primary threats in the chase for the Big Two — Harper and shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado — and whose owner, John Middleton, told USA Today that they are going to spend money “and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.” They, like the Nationals, have met with pitcher Patrick Corbin, also a Yankees target. Philly’s only major move has been trading for Mariners shortstop Jean Segura, a deal that was announced Monday night.
As for the rebuilding Marlins, well, nobody expects them to be good in 2019. But they are a player in one of the offseason’s main storylines depending on what they do with catcher J.T. Realmuto.
If the Mets are going to become the contenders they say they plan to be, Diaz and Cano figure to be significant pieces.
Diaz, perhaps the best closer in baseball in 2018, led everybody with 57 saves and posted a 1.96 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. He also struck out 44.3 percent of the batters he faced, second behind Milwaukee’s Josh Hader (46.7 percent) among pitchers with at least 50 innings.
Year-to-year consistency is far from guaranteed for relievers, but Diaz, with a high-90s fastball and high-80s slider (on average), appears to have as strong a chance as anybody to repeat that success.
Cano, an eight-time All-Star second baseman, served an 80-game PED suspension beginning in May 2018 after testing positive for furosemide, a diuretic sometimes used to obscure the presence of a banned substance. He played well after his return Aug. 14, however, with a .317/.363/.497 slash line.