NEW YORK -- In his introductory press conference as Mets general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen promised creativity and aggressiveness in his quest to rejuvenate the roster. He is close to making good on those words with a franchise-altering trade.
The Mets and Mariners agreed to a blockbuster deal that would bring eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano and standout closer Edwin Diaz to Flushing, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Greg Johns on Saturday. Diaz's medical information has been approved, and Cano waived his no-trade clause and is expected to join the Mets on Monday once his full medical review is complete.
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Late Thursday, the deal gained significant traction, as the Mets began informing players who would be in it. That group includes outfielder Jay Bruce, relievers Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista and prospects Jarred Kelenic (No. 3) and Justin Dunn (No. 4), according to a source. The Mets will also receive $20 million from the Mariners to offset Cano's salary, according to a report by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and confirmed by Morosi.
The amount of money changing hands was the reason for the delay as of Friday afternoon, according to the same source, who added that the teams remain in agreement on the player framework. Cano, 36, is owed $120 million through 2023, but the Mets will shed the remaining salaries of Bruce ($28 million) and Swarzak ($8.5 million).
For the Mets, the prize of the potential trade is not Cano but Diaz, who is coming off a franchise-record 57-save season and is under team control through 2022. Still just 24 years old, Diaz compiled a 1.96 ERA and struck out 124 batters over 73 1/3 innings this season, earning the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.
Diaz fits the bill of a proven closer to lock down the back end of their bullpen, but to acquire him, the Mets are paying a price. Kelenic, an outfielder, was the No. 6 overall Draft pick last June, is MLB Pipeline's 62nd-ranked prospect and has drawn nearly universal praise from scouts. Right-hander Dunn, another former first-round pick, broke out in 2018 and ranks 89th on MLB Pipeline's list. Bautista is a 23-year-old reliever who struggled in his rookie season, but has hit 101 mph on the radar gun.
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Rumored also to be part of the deal on Thursday, Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil was not in the iteration on the Mariners' table Friday morning. He could move to third base or the bench if he is not traded. Or, the Mets could use Cano at first base, though that would likely delay the arrival of top prospect Peter Alonso.
For now, the Mets and Mariners are simply concentrating on finalizing a deal for two of the league's elite players. Cano served an 80-game suspension last season for violating MLB's joint drug policy, but continued to make hard contact when he was in the lineup, finishing with a .303/.374/.471 slash line, 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 80 games.
If completed, the trade would not only represent a significant splash for Van Wagenen in his first month on the job, but would also reunite him with a former client. The agent-turned-GM represented Cano when he signed his 10-year, $240 million deal with Seattle before the 2014 season, in a joint venture between CAA and Roc Nation Sports. Those two agencies later split.
Another driving force behind the deal is Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto, who is rarely shy about making trades. Already this offseason, Dipoto sent starting pitcher James Paxton to the Yankees. A Cano deal would free up even more money for a rebuilding Mariners team.
The Mets are on a different trajectory. Multiple industry executives defined a Cano trade as a first salvo for a Mets team in win-now mode. The team is still likely to acquire at least one additional reliever this winter, a right-handed bat and perhaps a catcher. In his first winter on the job, Van Wagenen figures to be active.