Column: A Robinson Cano trade would be good, but it has to be done right


Mariners star Robinson Cano could be on his way back to the Big Apple (Adam Gessaman/Flickr Creative Commons)

There’s nothing like the MLB Hot Stove, especially if you have a Twitter account. This offseason has, unfortunately, been rife with national beat writers like Joel Sherman tweeting out multiple hypotheticals for trades and presenting it as news.  

It’s caused a lot of panic for New York Mets fans and, well, we already have enough of that to deal with, don’t we? 

The trade that emerged Thursday morning was one of those mere hypotheticals, something MetsBlog and the like were presenting as something the Mets could pursue. But it turns out that it’s real. 

Don’t you know? It’s Robinson Cano! 

Yeah. That Robinson Cano, the one with the atrocious 10-year, $240 million contract in Seattle, of all places, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2001. And even though they were contending at one point this past season, that never really panned out.  

So, naturally, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto’s strategy going into this offseason is desperation. Seattle badly wants to get rid of Cano and his contract, and they’re willing to deal All-Star closer Edwin Diaz with him.  

And who is the recipient of this potential deal? Why, the Mets, of course! 

This deal is simultaneously uncharacteristic and characteristic for the Mets. On the one hand, the Mets being involved in a blockbuster deal so early in the offseason (or at all) is a huge change of pace. On the other hand, Cano is 36 years old and he’d be a DH coming to the NL.  

So there are pros and cons. But the Mets should make this trade. 

As of the moment I am writing this (Thursday night), there are reports that the two teams are close to a trade. The deal will probably be done sometime on Friday, so there’s a chance this article will mean nothing by the time you read it. 

But hey, I gotta give it a shot. Right now, the deal is this: Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and a you-pick-two grab-bag of Justin Dunn, Jarred Kelenic and Jeff McNeil for Cano and Diaz. This trade, as it stands, is awful. But there’s a way to make it worth it. 

Personally, I’m all in on the Mets trying to go for it in 2019 and not worry about prospects like Dunn who wouldn’t be able to help until at least 2022. But the 19-year-old Kelenic, the No. 6 overall pick from this year’s MLB Draft, has an incredibly high ceiling and the potential to be a five-tool outfielder. Some scouts are saying it would be a big mistake for them to trade Kelenic; that his potential is too high. 

I agree. There are ways to get this trade done without Kelenic, and new GM Brodie Van Wagenen would be insane to deal him for these two in a trade that’s mainly shaping up to be a salary dump of Bruce (going into year two of three years/$39 million) and Swarzak (going into his final year of a two-year, $14 million deal). Bruce had an injury-ridden year last year, batting .223, and Swarzak was even worse with a 5.48 ERA. Even though some people think dealing with Swarzak for one more year wouldn’t be a big deal, I disagree. The Mets’ pitching was generally atrocious outside of the big-name starters, and keeping Swarzak around is unnecessary when there’s such a strong free agent class to choose from. 

And that’s the other thing. There are so many free agents, namely Manny Machado, that could fill the need that Cano would fill and do it much better. But the reality is that Machado is not coming to New York, and Diaz is an elite closer at a time when the Mets desperately need one. 

This is what I would do: You call Dipoto and this is what you tell him. Bruce, Swarzak and Dunn for Cano and Diaz, and they have to eat $10 million per year from Cano’s contract. Tell him he has X amount of hours to make the trade, and if he doesn’t, Van Wagenen will hang up the phone and move on. Although there are other suitors on the table for Cano and Diaz (or Mitch Haniger, or any one of their other young players), you have to take that gamble, especially when there are other resources out there to fulfill the needs. 

McNeil, who hit .329 in 225 at-bats with the Mets last year, is a good utility player and it would be best-case scenario if they can keep him. But if he has to be given up in this deal as well, I would still make the trade. He doesn’t really have a place if Cano comes and plays second anyway—not a place where he could start full-time, anyway. 

The Mariners are desperate to unload Cano. They’re going in full rebuild mode. The Mets are the one in the driver’s seat, and they aren’t obligated to listen to the direction the Mariners are taking them in the passenger’s seat. This is Van Wagenen’s chance to prove he can be a competent GM and not let his fondness for one of his former clients (Cano) cloud his judgment. 

This trade should—and can—be made. It just better be made right

Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at She tweets @steph_sheehan.

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