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Mariners-Mets trade for Robinson Cano gaining ‘significant momentum’ ... and it would include Edwin Diaz

Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano smiles after the top of the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. Cano hit a three-run double in the eighth inning. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano smiles after the top of the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. Cano hit a three-run double in the eighth inning. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) AP

The Mariners and Mets are aggressively approaching a deal that would send Robinson Cano back to the New York Mets, according to multiple reports Thursday morning.

But … it would apparently send Edwin Diaz there, too.

By later in the afternoon, the deal appeared imminent — as in it might be finalized by Thursday night or Friday morning.

No more Cano. No more Sugar. That’s the ever-increasing reality of the situation.

An argument could be made that a Cano-Diaz deal would be the biggest blockbuster of the offseason considering Diaz’s remarkable 2018 season and that Cano is still one of the game’s best hitters.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was first to report that there was “significant momentum” toward a deal with the Mets.

As the hours passed, the national media reports kept buzzing, including that the Mets and Mariners had reached the “critical stage” of negotiations and were “getting close to a final countdown.”

Any deal involving Cano would mean the Mariners would have to persuade him to waive his no-trade clause, though other reports have sourced people close to Cano who say he would likely do so for either of the New York teams. The 36-year-old played for the Yankees the first nine seasons of his career.

So just what would the Mariners get in return for such a blockbuster?

The Mariners have been offered some variation, though not all, of veteran outfielder Jay Bruce, veteran right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, 26-year-old infielder Jeff McNeil (who made his major league debut this season) and the presumed cogs in the deal for the Mariners, prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Kelenic, an outfielder, and Dunn, a right-handed starter, are both former first-round picks. Kelenic is the No. 4 prospect in the Mets’ organization, as ranked by Baseball America, and Dunn is No. 5.

What appears to be the case now is the Mariners weighing the Mets’ proposal over others. Rosenthal tweeted a quote from a rival team executive that between talking to teams about Cano, Diaz, shortstop Jean Segura and others, “(the Mariners) seem to have 100 deals in the works.”

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto wasn’t messing around when he talked after the season about roster “reimagination” and taking a step back.

And Dipoto is clearly eager to move Cano and the $120 million owed to him over the next five seasons. Some reports have noted they’ll make some deal, any deal, that ships him out of Seattle likely before the end of MLB’s weeklong winter meetings, which begin Dec. 9.

Interestingly enough, new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen was the one who negotiated Cano’s deal as his agent when Cano signed with the Mariners in December 2013. And with this being his first GM gig in a market as big as New York, Van Wagenen could be highly motivated to kick off his tenure with a deal that would return both Cano and Diaz.

Dipoto’s been adamant that any deal involving Diaz, their star closer who saved 57 games this past season, would only be made if there’s a significant haul involved. And it’s right to wonder whether the Mariners would bring back more in a Diaz deal if they were to focus on a package surrounding him alone and not pairing him with Cano’s giant contract.

“We’re going to be open-minded to anything we’re doing through this offseason and as we move forward,” Dipoto said last week on 710-ESPN radio. “That being said, we would absolutely have to be blown away to move players like Edwin Diaz, Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales. These are the (type of) players we are trying to acquire.”

It’s understandable the Mariners would shop Diaz. His value might not ever be higher. And since Seattle is taking a step back in 2019 – as evidenced by already trading catcher Mike Zunino and ace lefty James Paxton – the Mariners might be better off using Diaz’s massive trade value to fill other needs.

But this all depends on if the Mariners are simply desperate to dump Cano’s salary, even though he’s hit .296/.353/.472 in his five seasons in Seattle. Only Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have matched that slash line in that span.

Any deal for Cano is made more difficult concerning he just turned 36, is under contract through his age-40 season and he served an 80-game drug suspension this past year — which is why the Mets might be requiring Diaz in a deal.

What’s clear, though, is the Hot Stove market on Cano is burning up.

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TJ Cotterill is the Seattle Mariners and MLB writer for The News Tribune. He started covering MLB full-time in 2018, but before that covered Ken Griffey Jr.’s Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and spent seven years writing about high schools, including four as TNT’s prep sports coordinator. Born and raised in Washington.
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