Nationals Baseball: Cano to the Mets - what does it mean for the Nats

Friday, November 30, 2018

Cano to the Mets - what does it mean for the Nats

You can say this is a bad deal for the Mets.  I'm not so sure. If you work out the money as it is so far it's sort of like this

Mets get Cano and Diaz, lose Dunn, Kelenic, and Bautista. But they get to dump the Bruce and Swarzak contracts and both guys were nearly worthless last year. They probably lose a little there but very little. The Cano and Diaz impact to the payroll would be something like +10 (that's right 10 million MORE to spend this year, being paid to have these guys), 4 million, 18 million, 21 million, 12 million.  My offhand guess is that Diaz & Cano will give more value than... 45 million dollars, over the course of 4 and 5 years respectively. They could arguably do that in 2 years.

Are the prospects any good? Buatista (Gerson I assume) is one of those guys that can throw it 100 MPH with little control and every team has like 3 of them in their minor leagues and eventually out of the like 90 - maybe 5 "get it" and become great. Given Gerson is pretty damn hittable too (even in High A at 22) I don't like those chances. Dunn is a fast riser. Lousy in 2017 He was great to start this year and seems to be a guy who learns. He also seems to be a guy who doesn't have a third pitch and has no stamina so I'd be surprised if he doesn't end up at the back end of a bullpen rather than the front end of a rotation. Kelenic is the "prize" the Mets #6 draft pick this year. He's a high first round draft pick. Everyone loves his talent but he hasn't proven it yet. His brief rookie ball time was perfectly good for an 18 yo but not so stellar to make you super excited. His fielding is good. His attitude is supposedly great but neither of those will really matter if he can't hit and can he? Nobody knows. What you do know is he won't impact a team until 2021 at the earliest.

Anyway that's for edification. For the title of this column the end result is the Mets are better after this than before. They have a Murphy like 2nd baseman back, at the plate and in the field, and a dominant closer. They have 10 million to spend this year if they want to (and they should spend at least this given the scenario) and probably extra payroll room for next year too. They aren't a better Mets team today that you'd like to pass the Nats in the standings. It could happen - healthy rotation for Mets, issues again for Nats - but you wouldn't bet on it. But a better Mets team means fewer wins for the Nats. Fewer wins for the Nats means a harder time getting in the playoffs because the Nats are right now a little worse than last year (+Barraclough, +Rosenthal, +Suzuki +Robles +Full season Soto, +Full season Eaton, - Gio, -Hellickson, - bunch of middling pen arms that need replacement - Adams, -Bryce) and the Braves are better. We don't expect the Nats to do nothing more but if they don't beat the Braves (and possibly the Phillies... or possibly Mets) then it's a dogfight for those WC spots against teams who don't have 4 quality teams in their division.

So the biggest issue isn't whether this was a good deal for the Mets (I like it bc I think they should capitalize on the deGrom/Syndergaard years as much as possible - but Cano will almost have to be a drag at the end even at 12 mill instead of 24) or if it makes the Mets better than the Nats (it doesn't).  It's about making it harder for the Nats to make the playoffs (it does) and potentially setting up another team to challenge the Nats (if the Mets make more moves). 


Johnny Callison said...

Harper, should the Nats tender MAT, Roark, and Solis? I see it as a bit of no-win situation. Roark apparently would command about 10M and MAT 3, Solis 1. If you non-tender them, then you have another 14M to put toward a starting pitcher, along with the Bryce money that we assume will be available when he signs elsewhere. I think you can do better than Roark (not sure what has been wrong with him--losing command, carrying too much weight, or just normal ups and downs for a journeyman pitcher who gave us a few good years, and is now in decline) for your #4 and you can have some good cash to spend on a real #2 (so Stras can be #3 with his injuries).

I don't feel confident starting the season with Roark in the rotation. And I think you have to commit yourself to Robles and Soto and Eaton. I'd try like heck to get Marwin Gonzalez for your super-utility guy. I really like MAT, but I think he will never quite find himself here.

Johnny Callison said...

I didn't explain the no-win comment. If you keep Roark/MAT/Solis you have three players who have been occasionally good/shown potential but in whom it is hard to have confidence. If you let them go, you are creating some holes to fill and pitchers are especially hard to gauge long term. All in all, I favor taking the risk and turning the roster over a bit. Roark can't be your #3 going into the season if you want to compete for the division title. I don't know if he can even be #4. He'd be a really good #5, though, but not at 9.8M or whatever he's projected to earn.

TwoGloves said...

I agree that this move makes the Mets better than they are, but by itself it doesn't move them past the Nats or Braves. However, I don't think the Mets are done and the dominoes that fall after this move might make them a legit contender in the NL. It warrants keeping an eye on especially if the Nats don't make some significant moves themselves.

G Cracka X said...

Couldn't you argue that this is a net neutral for the Nats? Wins are taken away from the Nats, sure, but aren't they also taken away from the Nats' rivals (i.e. Braves and Phillies)? Plus, this could go bad for the Mets long-term.

Harper said...

JC - Basically all are jettisoning a reasonable player cost with hopes you can get a bargain or find a surprise. At SP I doubt you are going to find a bargain and Roark is probably as capable of a surprise as anyone in his price range. So he's a keep.

MAT is a question. He's about worth his cost but at this point there is no surprise. It depends on the OF field available. Looking at the CFs out there...(just assuming they are good fielders)... eh there's nothing better. Keep.

Solis I don't tender. 30 next year off two bad years - never a great prospect... if they keep him it's more emotional than anything else. Which might be ok for the last guy in the pen. But I dont' do it

TG - Yes. This sets up the possibility of the Mets being a true contender. It's a good team - a team I might pick for the playoffs if they were in say... the AL Central. But not here. We'll have to see if they follow through.

GCX - Well the way I see it is this - it has no bearing on the Nats standings in the East. Any effect on them will be the same effect on the other teams (as best as we can assume). Meanwhile it's a benefit for NL Central and West teams. So net negative.

DezoPenguin said...

I've been trying to dissect this trade since last night and I'm trying to figure out how it makes any sense for anybody.

I mean, okay, the Mets get Edwin Diaz, and that's good for them and bad for the Nats, because Diaz is a superstud reliever. The Mets get Cano, who is quite good right now, still, somehow, but is assumed to go into age-related decline because he's signed into his 40s. Meanwhile, they already have MacNeil, who plays the same position with (in 2018) about the same success level as Cano; his risk is the uncertainty of whether his successful 2018 was just luck or not. So they don't actually improve there. (Sure, Cano can eventually slide to 1B, but that eliminates a lot of his value and, again, we don't know how good of a 1B he can be, just as MacNeil has all of what, 12 games of experience at 3B in the minors last year?)

And the Mets ditch Bruce (who is bad and pricey) and Swarzak (who is pricey and was bad last year though good previous to last year). And they lose prospects, who may or may not give them anything but at least Dunn and Kelenic are supposed to have value.

Meanwhile, the Mariners have punted on 2019-2020 as all their other moves (including today's Colome-for-Navarez swap) show. So it's not so much about ditching Cano's 2019 contract (expensive but possibly worth it--it's absolutely not unexpected that Cano will put up 3 WAR in 2019 or even 2020, given his track record) but for the savings in 2021-2023 when it's assumed he won't be playing 2B and putting up 3 WAR. Bruce and Swarzak will be gone by 2021, and may even bring back something useful if one (probably Swarzak) bounces back and can be flipped. Bautista probably will never be worth anything, though, and Dunn's *upside* is supposed to be SP3-4 at best, while Kelenic is 19 years old in A-ball. We fans of the Nationals franchise have, perhaps, skewed expectations of what a 19-year-old ought to be capable of doing, but even so that's definitely a long-term project. And to get that, they give up Diaz, who's both young and very, very good and under team control through 2022, AND according to the last version of the trade rumored by the media, they're supposed to also kick in $60M towards Cano's salary.

Honestly, unless Cano has looked DiPoto in the eye and said, "I will accept a trade to no one but a New York team, AND if you keep me I'm going to dog it like no one has dogged before," I don't understand why the Mariners are so desperate to move him . (I mean...seriously, if you have to pay $60M anyway, AND eat the Bruce/Swarzak contracts, AND get rid of Diaz, what actually gets accomplished?) And I barely understand why the Mets would do this, since Diaz is good, yes, and that counts for a lot if they intend to compete right now, but there surely are easier ways to get a good reliever.)

DezoPenguin said...


I agree. Keep Roark because he's worth about what he's being paid (and may well be better), and he's the third-best pitcher in the current rotation. Keep Taylor because he's worth about what he's being paid (and with a little luck might be better) and he's a useful OF4, or if the FO has faith in Stevenson to replace him (or resigns Harper yet keeps everybody else) can be traded for a lottery ticket or a back-end reliever or something. And Solis has basically stunk for two years running now and isn't worth the money (plus he's out of options so he keeps someone better than he is like Suero or Glover in the minors), so non-tender him.

DezoPenguin said...

Yan Gomes now a Nat to be the other half of the catching duo, in exchange for Daniel Johnson (OF prospect coming off a down year...and older than 2/3rds of the anticipated starting outfield, Jefry Rodriguez, and a PTBNL. Probably a fair price.

(Now go get Kluber, Rizzo! You're 1/3 of the way to my OOTB trade idea!)

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. a 4th place team dealt away their first and second best prospects (according To keith law) to get a reliever—always volatile even the awesome ones, a 36 year old 2B who arguably can’t play 2B anymore and was just busted for PEDs, and absorbing money. Sure, it’s a 2B who had HOF production for years and still hit last year when he played. But then he got busted for PEDs...and a 36 year old can collapse at literally any second. And yes the RP has been elite recently.
But I don’t think folks are really understanding how not close the Mets are. Their offense is dreadful. This makes it merely bad. Sure, if EVERYTHING clicks—conforto is healthy for the first time ever basically, Cano doesn’t decline further or suggest 35 yr old performance was held up by PEDs, Cespedes is heskthy for first time ever, Rosario suddenly makes leap to being a good hitter, McNeil and Alonso both hit well as rookies, and Nimmo repeats his 2018 (he’ll regress as pitchers adjust to him and realize the guy looks to walk)—-of course that could be a good offense. But I personally don’t think even half of those things will happen. It’s a combo of old players with Q marks due to injury/PEDs/whatever and totally unproven young guys...
Then you look at the rotation. what evidence is there that Syndrrgaard is likely to pitch close to a full year? He is more injury prone than Stras. Matz at this point seems neither good nor likely to throw even 120 innings. Wheeler had a good year. Can he do that again and stay healthy? And of course DeGrom is a beast. But last year was special....unlikely you’ll see that again. Just too good to match. And they have no pitching depth to speak of. So their rotation *could* be very good, but is more likely to be mediocre to me, given injuries, etc, and I wouldn’t bet on it to be better, for example, than the Phillies rotation. Or the Braves rotation. Or ours if we get a keuchel/Corbin/Eovaldi.
I think Mets fans and the new GM (who I feel like is gonna go on a AJ Preller style shopping spree to “win now” and not come close then realize the farm is gone and he has pushed any rebuild out 5 years and not 2-3) just are viewing the team way too much from a best case scenario standpoint.

In response to Harper’s general take...I wouldn’t hate this move if this was a team more like the Nats who (by Pythag record) had 90 win talent last year and not the me you are adding between 3-5 wins to a team that was at like 78-79 win talent. Now, if they sign Machado? Ok sure. Then I see it. But not now. Because this team as presently constituted will require incredible luck IMO to win 85-86 games.
To be clear, I think rebuilding is bad for fans and the game. But for the Mets specific situation, I think a more sensible situation would have been to figure “the Braves will probably own this division for at least a few years if not more, and even if they don’t it will be a very tough let’s deal Thor DeGrom cespedes Conforto and wheeler, and put the team revamp into hyperdrive by acquiring a crap load of prospect talent ready to play in majors by 2020-2021. Because teams WOULD deal valuable close to sure thing prospects for Thor and especially DeGrom. Players have to be utter beasts to garner top end prospects these days, but those two would.
Folks that tend to have Harpers view will say it’s almost always better to spend to try to win and deal away prospects bc u never know! I would argue that to win the WS these days you generally need a core of like 5-6 All Star caliber home grown core players (who are inexpensive and really good) u can then surround with trades and signings. The Mets arguably have 1 all star caliber player+ 2 other all star caliber talents who can’t stay healthy (conforto, Thor). [by comparison the Nats have more like 4 AS caliber home grown players, not including Bryce of course, plus 1 more AS all star caliber home grown talent, and that’s not counting the possibly best P in baseball they acquired. They’re not in similar positions.

Kubla said...

The catcher deal seems good to me. Which one is going to be the platoon 1b/mostly starting 1b if Zim goes down?

Jay said...

I agree with Buster Olney at ESPN. This deal for the Mets makes zero sense to me. Odds are Cano's best days are behind him, if not far behind him with the PED suspension last year. It's funny that the Mariners were a much better team without him. Also, Cano is known for not trying hard (he was Machado before Machado). How do you think that will age. Diaz is great, but the free agent closers even, not to mention BP arms in general, are plentiful on the free agent market this year. IMO, it's another case of a new GM (who has never been a GM before) trying to make some moves so he can say, "See, I made some moves." However, at this point there is no discernible plan. That doesn't even bring into account that there are rumors flying around that they want to trade Thor. That makes even less sense. Maybe the Nats can trade Zimmerman to the Mets. He's a former client of Van Weggenen. He's old and way overpriced. His current team would love to get out from under his contract. The only thing missing is a PED suspension.

I like the Gomes trade a lot. It's funny that for $12 million next year they have considerably upgraded over Wieters. The only downside is that they have to sign one or two SP now. Rodriguez wasn't the answer for the rotation, but he was organizational pitching depth. Also, they still need some BP help IMO

Last note. Did anyone else notice that Zimmerman on a recent radio interview said that he needs to play some in Spring Training this year and last year he did not because he was "dinged up a little bit." The beat writers for the Nats aren't so great.

ssln said...


I have to tell you I think you blew the analysis on this one. Cano is 36 and had 310 bats last year. The injury issue is always hard to figure out but a middle infielder at age 36 even with the new rules is a huge risk, My guess is that he trips over the top step of the dugout and is out for two months. Then the deal looks crazy.
Throw in a back reliever with great stats. We aren't talking Kimbel here who has done it for years and has wipe out stuff. You see this as a net positive. I see this as a total gamble by a club too lazy to build a club through draft picks like Atlanta did. Everyone does it a different way but this isn't the way I would do it.
The Gomes trade is interesting. I interpret this to mean that Rizzo plans to trade for six cathchers and hope that a couple work out. Then after he has cornered the market he will trade the washouts to other teams that find themselves short a catcher because of injury. The Norris trade is the example of his thought process. Guy is brilliant which is why I suggest we just all sit back and watch it all play out.
Bryce to infect the Phillies for years. Make it happen already.

Anonymous said...

ssln - Cano had 310 AB's last year due to PED suspension, not injury. Aside from that, the last time he played fewer than 150 games was in 2006. Everyone is subject to injury at any given moment, but the guy has been pretty durable and batting near .300 or above every year for the 14 years he's been in the league. I guess we should be worrying Max will brake his leg putting on his cleats this season too.

I love the deal because it's the same old Mets. The value they'll get from a 36 yo Cano and Diaz is not enough for what they gave up. But keep dealing, Brodie!

G Cracka X said...

So who starts for the Nats at C now? Or is the plan to give each catcher about 80 games?

Josh Higham said...

@GCX I've seen that it's Davey's call who plays how much (which tells me having two good catchers will somehow be as much a disaster as having 0 good catchers was but I digress). Suzuki could be an option as a backup backup 1B when his bat is hot, from one source.

Ole PBN said...

I don't know about Suzuki at 1B, as he's never played there in his career (aside from 6 innings of in AA in 2006). We still have room for another SP, backup 1B, and reliever. I think there are still some good bats out there to spell Zimmerman. Justin Bour? Lucas Duda? Matt Adams v2? Matt Davidson?

Josh Higham said...

@PBN I agree, I think it's silly to assume a 35 year old catcher can learn to play first competently enough to justify putting his 110 OPS+ in the lineup, but it's what I've read.