In time we'll know if Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen can sift through the final details, but meanwhile, the rest of the industry is watching with great interest, fully engaged, breaking down the decisions by both sides.
I wrote an initial piece here Friday and afterward gathered some more thoughts and opinions from evaluators.
1. Edwin Diaz, who would go to the Mets in the much-discussed deal, is one of the best per-dollar pitching values right now and will be through 2019, when he'll make close to minimum wage. A couple of rival executives noted that while Diaz won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, he'll start to get very expensive in 2020. The arbitration system rewards relievers who accumulate saves, and nobody did that better than Diaz last year -- he led the majors in saves with 57. It may be that Diaz's salary will immediately rocket upward to about $7 million to $8 million in 2020 and then north from there.
Craig Kimbrel's career moved along a similar trajectory. He earned $655,000 in 2013 and then $7 million through arbitration in 2014, $9 million the year after that and $11.25 million in 2015.
2. Many rival evaluators think this trade is tremendous for the Mariners -- getting out from underneath tens of millions in the Robinson Cano contract, as well as adding top prospects. At the outset of the offseason, Dipoto told peers that Diaz and Mitch Haniger were just about untouchable. But now that he has moved the closer, he might as well swap Haniger, who turns 28 later this month.
One executive thinks that once the Mariners make their other deals, in addition to what they got in the James Paxton and Cano/Diaz deals, "they'll have a top-5 farm system."
A ground floor from which to build, for sure, with a long way to go.
3. Rival evaluators noted that in this trade, the Mets paid big in committed dollars and prospects for a closer and a second baseman -- and in this winter's free-agent market, those are the two positions saturated with alternatives. The Mets arguably landed the two best options while choosing to pay sticker price at a time when there were many less costly players to consider.
For example: The Mets could have signed someone like David Robertson to be their closer, moved forward with Jeff McNeil at second base, kept their prospects and invested other money elsewhere.
4. As we discussed on 98.7 FM Friday morning, the Mariners' cash contribution to the trade would be in the range of $20 million. Once you account for that, as well as the Mariners absorbing the contracts of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, the Mets' investment in Cano is about $60 million over five years.
5. Given the particulars of the trade and the market context, the core question for the Mets in this deal is this: Do they think the quality difference in 70 innings of Diaz vs. 70 innings of a Robertson or Jeurys Familia is worth taking on $60 million of Cano money and swapping two of their top 10 prospects, including No. 6 overall pick Jarred Kelenic?