Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets' blockbuster trade that will land them Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners is one of the biggest they'll have ever made -- if it gets finalized.
And while the focus has primarily been on the enormity of Cano and Diaz coming to Flushing with Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, and another lower-tier prospect heading to Seattle, the deal could have an enormous impact on two young players who remain with the Mets: Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso.
In the case of McNeil, it seems he's staying after initially being in danger of heading to Seattle.
How will they be impacted?
McNeil had been "penciled in" as the Mets' starting second baseman for 2019, and there was good reason for that. His numbers during his rookie campaign in 2018 were tremendous -- .329/.381/.471 with three homers, six triples, and 11 doubles in 248 plate appearances (63 games). ANd while that level of production might not be the norm for him, what he did was not a mirage.
It's fair to believe the Mets will use Cano at second base -- at least in the short term -- since it's where he's most comfortable and since he's still an above average defender there. Cano also has experience at third base and first base.
McNeil is also comfortable at third base and with the presence of Todd Frazier, that theoretically leaves McNeil as the odd man out. But if the Mets are serious about going all-in in 2019 -- and it sure as hell seems they are -- the expectation should be that they'll give the most at-bats to the players who give them the best chance to win.
If Frazier remains, McNeil should still have a terrific shot to get plenty of playing time at third base while filling in at second for Cano. If Frazier is traded, third base opens up entirely for McNeil.
Alonso hasn't been mentioned much as fans and reporters alike react to this trade, but it could have a huge impact on him.
With Jay Bruce gone, first base has basically opened up. And while Alonso likely won't be up with the Mets until April 10 at the earliest so they can secure an extra year of control, it's now fair to think he could be manning first base at Citi Field sooner rather than later.
If Bruce had remained, it could've created a real headache for the team regarding how to free up first base for Alonso. While Bruce didn't particularly want to play first base, his injury issues had led to the potential of that being his primary position. There was also the fact that new GM Brodie Van Wagenen seemingly prefers to keep Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in the corner outfield spots, which would have left no room out there for Bruce.
The Mets could theoretically use Wilmer Flores at first base if they offer him arbitration, but his presence won't block Alonso. Bruce could have. Now, Alonso's path to first base in Queens is clear.