One-Year Later: Looking Back at the Cano/Diaz Trade

Michael Cohen

Happy Anniversary Mets fans! It may not be at the level of Bobby Bonilla Day -- yet, but it is an anniversary that Mets’ fans shudder to think about.

It was one year ago today that Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen completed a deal with the Seattle Mariners to acquire closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and three prospects, one of whom turned out to be Jarred Kelenic.

We all know what happened. The trade turned out to be a colossal disaster for the Mets. Diaz, who was the AL Reliever of the Year in 2018, was the complete antithesis last season, posting a career worse 5.59 ERA in 66 games, while blowing seven saves and losing his position as the teams closer.

Instead the Mets had to rely on a closer by committee of Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman just to end games without having to worry a large lead would be blown.

Robinson Cano was no better. The 36-year old second baseman sent to the Mets as a cash dump by Seattle, was either ineffective at the plate or injured. There was really no in between for Cano.

Aside from a four consecutive multi-hit games in early August, there wasn’t a lot to write home about for the former Yankee. Cano wound up with only 100 hits in 390 at bats with 13 homers and a career-worst 39 RBI. He hit .256, also a career low. The worst part of the Cano trade? He’s under contract for three more years. Nice.

It’s not like Seattle made out like bandits either. Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzeck both underwhelmed early in the season and were quickly traded. Gerson Bautista was really bad in eight games out of the pen with an ERA of 11, and Justin Dunn did ‘ok’ in four relief outings.

What gave Seattle the edge in this deal, of course, is Kelenic. The 19-year old outfield prospect flourished in the Mariners farm system, batting .291 with 23 homers and 68 RBI between Single-A, High-A and Double-A ball. The Mariners hope that his progress continues in the minors in 2020 before becoming a factor at the Big League level by at least 2021.

Why bring this up now? Well, the Mets might be on the precipice of another big trade for a former Reliever of the Year. As has been reported both here on Amazin’ Clubhouse and other outlets, the Mets are interested in Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader.

Hader dominated hitters in 2019, recording 281 strikeouts in 157 innings. It’s hard to find lefty relievers, and it is even harder to find lefty relievers who break 95-plus on their fastball.

The Mets are interested, for no other reason than Hader is (let me know if you heard this before) a former CAA client of Van Wagenen’s.

Are the Mets prepared to do this again? Really? Has Van Wagenen learned from past mistakes? If the Mets were to part with a major hall of players, which many reports indicated would be a prerequisite to even begin discussions with Milwaukee, it would be a major risk.

The Mets do not have a deep farm system, and their best prospects are far down in the minor league system. They are also not one player away from seriously contending for a World Series. At the same time there is pressure to win-now when a two-time Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom, and reigning Rookie of the Year, Pete Alonso are on the roster.

Past is prologue? We’ll see. As you hang that tinsel on the Christmas tree, remember, Happy Anniversary Mets fans!