Mariners stars Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz are joining the Mets in a soon-to-be completed blockbuster trade. It signals that yet another of the Marlins’ division rivals will be “going for it” in 2019.
Do not get frustrated: this is actually a positive development.
The Marlins have spent the past year-plus rejiggering their organization with an eye toward sustainable winning in the 2020s. One of the last remaining items on the agenda is flipping All-Star J.T. Realmuto for several long-term building blocks. Viable trade suitors include any current contenders with concerns at the catcher position, and the Mets are now firmly in that group.
Prior to the Friday night deadline, Brodie Van Wagenen’s front office decided to tender a contract to Travis d’Arnaud. The once-highly regarded prospect never panned out, largely due to injuries—d’Arnaud has averaged just 73 games played over the past five seasons, plus he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Even if he makes his way off the disabled list eventually, any team with serious postseason aspirations needs a better solution behind the plate.
Kevin Plawecki was the most frequently used Mets catcher in 2018. He posted an uninspiring .210/.315/.370 slash line (93 wRC+). Also on the 40-man roster, Tomás Nido was practically an automatic out in 34 major league appearances.
So what are their alternatives?
The Mariners’ willingness to absorb the undesirable Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak contracts and cover $20 million that was owed to Canó affords New York some flexibility to improve via free agency. However, there’s no ideal fit at that position:
For those asking about Wilson Ramos and the Mets: There is some hesitancy to pursue him because of concerns about his defense and injury history. The Mets are prioritizing defense, pitch framing, at the position.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) December 2, 2018
Yasmani Grandal is much more polished than Ramos defensively. Another important consideration, though: Grandal received the qualifying offer from the Dodgers, requiring the Mets to sacrifice a 2019 early-round draft pick if they signed him this offseason. Besides, the team might shy away from additional long-term deals now that Canó is stuck on their books through 2023.
Meanwhile, the well-rounded Realmuto checks so many boxes. He obviously helps the Mets compete now, but without bloating the payroll (projected $6.1 million salary as a second-time arbitration-eligible player, per MLB Trade Rumors) or committing to his decline years. Acquiring the NL Silver Slugger keeps him away from the Braves, Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, etc. Then there’s the fact that he is simply better than any other catcher. Kinda important for an organization that’s focused on winning!
An acceptable return package from the Marlins’ perspective must include Peter Alonso, the No. 2 prospect in New York’s system according to both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. Turning 24 years old on Friday, the first baseman was a premier slugger last season between Double-A and Triple-A. He would address a glaring need with his new organization, projecting to make an impact at the highest level very early in 2019.
Despite his rocky MLB performance thus far, Nido is a quality second piece of the package, serving as an upgrade over the other non-Realmuto catchers that the Marlins have. The icing on the cake would be a raw starting pitcher with upside like right-hander Simeon Woods-Richardson.
For as much as the Mets have raved about Alonso publicly, his position is the cheapest to address on the free-agent market. Let’s also not forget about Dominic Smith, who’s actually six months younger and is less than two years removed from being a highly regarded prospect in his own right.
The Canó/Díaz deal only makes sense for the Mets in the proper context—they still have to improve in other areas to complete a roster good enough to potentially win the NL East. Maybe that means getting Realmuto, or at least going after him hard enough to convince another club to sweeten their offer.
Either way, the Fish ought to be excited about their rival mortgaging the future for a postseason push, clearing the path for them to rise with less resistance.
How should the Marlins feel if they received Alonso, Nido and Woods-Richardson—the Mets No. 2, No. 12 and No. 22 prospects—as the return for J.T. Realmuto?
This poll is closed