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Within the last hour or so, we’ve gotten some tweets from reporters that give us more clarification on this potential deal.
Can report this more definitively: As of now, the not-yet- official Mets Mariners trade on the table is Cano/Diaz for Bruce/Swarzak/Kelenic/McNeil/Dunn— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 30, 2018
Medicals have not been reviewed. Remember Wilmers’ tears.
Mets have begun informing players they are in a deal to the Mariners if it gets completed. Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak are in the deal.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) November 30, 2018
Andy Martino later went on to clarify that it’s possible one of the younger Mets players gets dropped from the deal. And it’s also important to note that the M’s could always toss in a lower-level prospect to make the deal easier to stomach for New York.
Meanwhile, here’s what we know about the players that are being discussed:
The salary dumps
OF Jay Bruce
Bruce is the name that should be the most familiar to Mariners fans. That’s because he’s been linked to the Mariners several times in the past. The Mets signed the outfielder to a pretty hefty contract of three years and $39MM prior last offseason. The M’s would be on the hook for $26MM of that for the next two years as it currently stands. Bruce would likely slot into Nelson Cruz’s role with a little bit of first base sprinkled in, and the M’s would just hope he can put up something in the neighborhood of a 110 wRC+, which he has surpassed in two of the last three seasons.
RHP Anthony Swarzak
Swarzak is the other contract dump that would come Seattle’s way. The right-handed reliever is owed $7MM in 2019, after which he’ll be a free agent. He posted a 6.15 ERA last year in 26.1 innings with 10.5 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9, but he’s just a year removed from a 2.2 fWAR season. He’s the kind of guy who could be flipped in a following deal or in the middle of the summer if he picks things back up.
The actual prospects
This is where things get fun, and also reportedly where things are hung up as the Mets try to figure out what they’re comfortable with giving up. These are the names that have surfaced so far:
2B Jeff McNeil
McNeil may not have the “top prospect” clout of some of the other names being mentioned, but he’s Major League ready and is, by all indications, the real deal. McNeil, drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, is turning 27 at the beginning of next season. This makes him a few months younger than Mitch Haniger. He has some parallels with Haniger as another player who seemingly broke out late in his minor league career. After never having had a hitting resumé to write home about, McNeil took a major step forward in 2017, and the results carried over through last season. The Mets called him up at mid-season, and he responded by posting 2.7 fWAR in just 258 plate appearances, which would easily make him a 5 fWAR player over a full season. While it’s a long shot to expect him to extend that torrid pace over an entire season, McNeil would immediately fill the void left at second base by Canó’s departure. His five remaining years of club control align nicely with the 2021-ish window that the Mariners are seemingly aiming for. He’s not a guarantee, and for that reason hopefully isn’t the centerpiece of the deal, but he’s no throw-in.
RHP Justin Dunn
The newly 23-year-old Dunn is the rare prospect to be making their way up the responsibility chart. After spending the majority of his collegiate career as a reliever, Dunn has worked primarily as a starter in the pros, including all 21 appearances in 2018. It looked dicey in 2017 for the Mets’ 2016 1st-rounder, taken 19th-overall, but he began this season once again in High-A St. Lucie and appeared significantly improved. Baseball America describes him developing from control towards command, and is effusive about his strides this season, rating him the organization’s best pitcher and their No. 5 overall prospect in the team’s 2019 top-10 rankings. Dunn’s limitations stem from concerns about his size (not tiny at 6’2, 185, but no colossus) and, relatedly, durability. Dunn leans on four pitches: a 93-95 fastball that can be worked as a sinker or four-seam, a well-regarded slider that handles RHHs well, and, most recently, a dependable changeup. The changeup’s development is credited with transforming Dunn from a potential ROOGY with a brutal platoon split in 2017 into a No. 3-4 starter.
OF Jarred Kelenic
Look, when the Mets first came up as a destination I figured—because I’ve been conditioned to expect bad things—that Kelenic was off limits. When I heard Salk say his name while I drove down I-5 this morning, my heart literally skipped several beats (also, it’s really weird to hear news broken on the radio in 2018.) I’ve been in on Kelenic for a while, thanks to John and Kate. See? John had coverage here too. Since then Kelenic’s stock has only skyrocketed, as you can see from this pair of The Athletic pieces. A five-tool OF from snowy Wisconsin, Kelenic may well stick in center field and smashed six home runs in his first pro season. Though the 107 wRC+ at his second stop doesn’t explode off the page, for a 19-year-old in his first taste of playing every day, it’s really quite something.
He is young and his professional repertoire is limited; the encomia from others and from me are truly based on potential, not, to date, professional production. The five-tool Kelenic does get some mixed scouting—while fangraphs likes him, they like him at the back end of the top-100 right now, although I suspect that will change with their next update—the sky-high ceiling for the Pride of Waukesha is incredibly alluring and represents exactly what Jerry Dipoto seeks to acquire and instill in a downtrodden, jaded and all-around miserable fanbase: hope.
Other names of note:
It’s possible these three aren’t the only players being considered in this deal, especially if the Mariners really lean into the hard rebuild and add in someone like Mallex Smith (the Mets don’t have a real CF option, and Kelenic, if included in the deal, is their lone top-ten OF prospect). One name we heard early on was Andres Gimenez, a defense-first shortstop who is the Mets’ number one prospect. That seems like a reach for a deal where the Mets are taking on a lot of salary, but it’s important to note that the Mets have not one, not two, not three, but four premium shortstop prospects. Amed Rosario is currently installed at the position at the major league level, but behind him the Mets have Gimenez, teenager Ronny Mauricio, and the delightfully-named Shervyen Newton. The density of shortstop prospects is symptomatic of the Mets’ top prospect cluster as a whole, which is very heavy on infield prospects and pitchers, and very light on outfielders. That’s basically the opposite of the Mariners’ system, which makes them particularly well-matched as trade partners. And now...we wait.