Seattle Mariners

Is potential Cano-Diaz trade to Mets too costly for Mariners?

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano looks on from the dugout before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano looks on from the dugout before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Trade rumors continue to swirl of a blockbuster deal that would send Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Mets., and it appears increasingly imminent by the minute.

But here’s the question the Mariners must be asking – are they the ones giving away too much?

The latest iteration of the trade includes that the Mariners would not only ship their superstar 24-year-old closer Diaz with eight-time All-Star Cano, but that they also might include about $60 million in cash considerations, with that latest figure coming from a report from Andy Martino of SNY.TV in New York. Martino stressed that the financials are still being sorted out.

In return, the Mariners, as of the most recent reports, would bring back 31-year-old outfielder Jay Bruce, 33-year-old right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak and three prospects – outfielder Jared Kelenic and right-handed pitchers Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista.

The deal has not been reported as finalized and nothing official has been made as of Friday morning.

The consensus from at least those around the Mets were that they were the ones dishing out far too much for a closer and aging second baseman (who might really be a first baseman going forward). But that was before the $60 million was reported, and a previous iteration of the deal included the Mets trading second baseman Jeff McNeil, who made his major-league debut this past season and showed exceptional bat-to-ball skills, before the Mets pulled him out and included a younger prospect, instead.

Kelenic would be the Mariners’ biggest prize. And the dealbreaker. He’s just 19 but the Mets drafted him sixth overall in June and some scouts have been quoted as saying he could be a superstar or that his floor is as a really above average player.

But the Mariners would be trading someone who already is a superstar.

Diaz has been mentioned by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto as part of their core group alongside Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales as they take a “step back” in 2019 to focus on making the playoffs in 2020 or 2021.

He had one of the best seasons in the history of relievers with 57 saves, a 1.97 ERA and he struck out 44.3 percent of the batters he faced – the third-best mark in American League history.

It has to be wondered if the Mariners would be better off trading him in a package by himself considering all the suitors he has. Multiple reports had the Phillies bargaining for him still all of Thursday despite the ongoing trade rumors with the Mets.

Maybe including Diaz is the only way to trade Cano and his massive contract. He just turned $36 and by the time he’s about to turn 41 he’ll have earned another $120 million from the deal he signed in 2014.

But $60 million? That’s the Mariners paying off half of Cano’s remaining contract and essentially buys the final 2.5 years of the five years remaining. So, essentially, the Mets would be paying for Cano when he’s 36 and 37 (and he batted .303/.374/.471 in 80 games as a 35-year-old for the Mariners this past season) and then they get him almost for free the remaining three years.

Do the Mariners have to be that desperate to dump Cano’s salary that they’d pay $60 million of his deal and have to include Diaz just to part with him?

And the answer would be around how high they view Kelenic, a potential superstar in exchange for a current superstar and a former superstar who is still really good. Cano has hit .296/.353/.472 in his five seasons in Seattle, and only Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have matched that slash line in that span. He made his eighth All-Star appearance in 2017 and was the game MVP before he served an 80-game drug suspension this season.

The Mariners would also be taking on $34 million from Bruce’s and Swarzak’s contracts, and figure that the Mariners would quickly try to turn those players around in trades to other teams. Add the $60 million in cash considerations and the Mets would still be taking on $26 million when it’s all said and done for five years of Cano, no more worrying about Bruce’s and Swarzak’s contracts and club control over Diaz until 2023.

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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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