John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
OK, I know that even fans who hadn't heard of Jarred Kelenic until Thursday are now convinced he's the next Ted Williams, and there are plenty of scouts who will swear to that, but let's start with the bright side:
The Mets are going to be better in 2019 for acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in the still-to-be-finalized trade with the Mariners, and maybe a lot better if Brodie Van Wagenen's first-ever deal kicks off a series of off-season moves, as anticipated.
For that matter, you can probably say the same thing about 2020 as well.
As such it's easy to like the premise of this trade, as the Mets took advantage of a desperate team to get a spectacular young reliever in Diaz for whom they otherwise would have had to ransom their farm system.
They also managed to get the Mariners to kick in some significant money toward Cano's remaining $120 million on his contract (including the salaries of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak that Seattle is taking back), according to SNY's Andy Martino.
That's important in helping fill other holes this winter.
And if Cano digs deep and proves he still has greatness in him at age 36, who knows, it's not unthinkable that Van Wagenen could be hailed as a genius by, say, next October.
The problem is that the agent-turned-GM didn't step on Jerry Dipoto's neck when he had his Seattle counterpart at his mercy.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
In other words, considering the Mets had all the leverage here, I think they gave up too much by including two top prospects, pitcher Justin Dunn and the aforementioned Kelenic, as well as reliever Gerson Bautista.
They did keep Jeff McNeil out of it, which was crucial, as his bat could still be an important piece in 2019, perhaps even platooning at third base with Todd Frazier.
Still, two former first-round draft choices is a lot to give. And more so than Dunn, who pitched to a 3.59 ERA between Class-A and Double-A last season, Kelenic is the needle-mover in this deal, the primary reason Mets fans do not seem to approve of the trade, judging by social media, anyway.
To be fair, prospect-mania is a phenomenon that has taken root over the last 10 years or so, where information overload on the Internet has made it easy for fans to fall in love with minor-leaguers whose flaws they haven't seen yet.
And let's be honest, many a blue-chipper fails to live up to the hype.
That said, the praise for Kelenic from scouts is so universally high that I'm on board with the consensus opinion that Van Wagenen should have found a way to make this deal without including the 19-year-old outfielder.
It's not as if such praise came out of nowhere either. There was plenty of buzz about Kelenic when the Mets made him the No. 6 pick in the draft last June, as scouts were raving about him then as far-and-away the best high school hitter in the draft.
Still, the scout love has only grown since then, in part because Kelenic dominated the Gulf Coast League so thoroughly after signing last summer, hitting .413, that the Mets quickly advanced him a level after only 12 games.
On Tuesday two scouts told me the Mets would be making a big mistake in trading the kid, with one calling him a potential "superstar'' who is so polished that he should advance quickly through the minors.
Meanwhile, on SNY's "Baseball Night in New York" show, Adam Fisher, a former baseball ops analyst for the Mets, declared Kelenic to be such a can't-miss that "his floor is that of above-average major leaguer."
So it could well be that in three or four years, never mind 10, this trade could haunt Van Wagenen and the Mets badly.
And again, the point is the Mets had so much leverage they didn't need to say yes on Kelenic because… where else were the Mariners going to unload the remaining five years and $120 million of Cano's contract?
Even if they found a willing team, Cano's no-trade clause gave him control, and the Mariners knew he wanted to return to New York, which he still considers home in a lot of ways. Seattle wasn't going to close the door on them.
In that respect Van Wagenen doesn't get high marks for the first test of his negotiating skills as a GM. On the other hand, he took a major step toward being true to his pledge to put a genuine contender on the field in 2019.
To that extent Mets fans should be excited about next season. It's just that you can't help wondering if Van Wagenen also let his respect/fondness for Cano convince him that his former client was worth giving up more than he should have, which goes back to the big-picture questions about an agent converting to a GM.
We'll see. It might be a great trade, and it will be years before we'll know if the scouts were right about Kelenic.
It just wasn't the perfect-storm of a trade it could have been.