Win-now Mets? Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz blockbuster a gamble to celebrate

Shoot, there goes the New York Mets’ chances for being on the cover of Baseball America.

Oh no, the Mets’ farm system is about to be trashed by national publications and websites evaluating the organization’s prospects.

Gosh, the Mets can’t spend the next five years hyping outfielder Jarred Kelenic as the next Darryl Strawberry.

Apparently, the Mets and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen never got the memo that when you hire a new front-office regime, you’re supposed to gut the team, undergo a complete rebuild and plead for patience with your fanbase that you’ll be a World Series contender in five years.

The Mets, in a bold, aggressive, and, yes, gutsy move, will announce Monday that they have acquired eight-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners for prospects Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista, along with veteran outfielder Jay Bruce and reliever Anthony Swarzak. The Mariners, besides assuming the $34 million remaining in Bruce and Swarzak’s contracts, also are chipping in $20 million.

The trade will be announced once everyone passes their physicals on Monday, two executives involved in the trade told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity since the trade isn’t official.

Just like that, the Mets are relevant again in the NL East, and the Mariners’ 17-year postseason drought will be prolonged well into the next decade.

The only bizarre and truly wacky aspect of this trade is the reaction: Folks are actually celebrating in Seattle and condemning in New York.

Come on, this was not a reckless move by the Mets.

Actually, it was rather creative.

The Mets essentially added $66 million to their payroll when factoring in the remaining five years and $120 million on Cano’s deal, the money from the Mariners and the players traded away. They now have a power-hitting second baseman for the middle of their lineup and a 24-year-old closer who was the most dominating reliever in baseball last season. Diaz is a year away from qualifying for salary arbitration.

And folks are mad?

Just think about Diaz’s value alone. If he were a free agent, he’d be worth more at least $100 million. And the Mets have control of this guy, who saved 57 games last year, for the next four years.

Tell me why trying to win a World Series now, and still having a window open to compete for at least several more years, is such a terrible risk?

If you’re a Mets fan, would you rather undergo a massive rebuild, lose 100 games a year, and if everything goes right, contend again in five years?

Sure, Cano, who was suspended 80 games last season for performance-enhancing drugs, could suddenly look like an old man playing clean. What are the chances of him continuing to play at an All-Star level in the final years of the contract? Even if his body fades in three years, so what? He’s an expensive bench player. Who’s to even say there won’t be a DH in the National League in the next collective bargaining agreement? (The current one expires after the 2021 season.)

The only act of stupidity would be if the Mets sat back now, and thought they were good enough to win the NL East without making any other moves.

News flash: That ain’t happening.

The Mets’ front office is just getting started.

The Mets still want a front-line catcher, a center fielder, and a deeper bullpen.

And, oh, by the way, they are NOT trading Noah Syndergaard for prospects.

Sure, if someone blows the Mets away with a package of prospects and major-league players who can fill holes, the Mets will listen. Unless a Syndergaard trade brings back players that can help them win in 2019 — which likely would require a multi-team trade — Syndergaard will be pitching March 30 against the Washington Nationals in the Mets’ second game of the season.

Let the Mariners, San Diego Padres and all of the rest of the rebuilding teams brag about their farm systems while they keep losing year after year.

The Mets are back to being a potential power in the biggest market in the country.

Remember when the San Francisco Giants were lambasted year after year this decade for their depleted farm system?

All they did was win three World Series titles in five years.

Is anyone still complaining in Boston that Dave Dombrowski traded prized prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech for Chris Sale? Anyone? Anyone?

The last we checked, we have yet to see a single banner celebrating prospect titles at any ballpark in the country. But the Red Sox will be hanging their 2018 World Series flag on April 9 at their Fenway Park home opener.

Sure, maybe Kelenic, the No. 6 pick in the 2018 draft, becomes an All-Star outfielder for the Mariners. Scouts say he has the potential to hit for power at some point in his career.

Then again, maybe he becomes the next Mickey Moniak, the Phillies’ No. 1 pick in 2016 who has struggled with a .671 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) in the minors since being drafted.

Maybe Dunn becomes a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, although some scouts believe he’ll have more impact as a reliever.

No one knows.

If this was an exact science, 21 teams wouldn’t have passed on Mike Trout in the draft. There wouldn’t have been 401 players selected ahead of Albert Pujols. Agents have horror stories on all their first-round picks who never play long enough to even qualify for salary arbitration.

But what we do assume is that the Mets know their own prospects better than anyone. And Van Wagenen, the former agent who represented Cano when he signed his 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners, knows Cano’s heart and passion as well as anyone. Van Wagenen is convinced a return to New York will rejuvenate him with his legacy at stake.

It’s the kind of bold, daring move that used to dominate the baseball landscape, before GMs were more worried about preserving their job security than taking risks.

This could even be the gamble that defines Van Wagenen’s new front-office career — and it should be celebrated. 

Imagine, a team actually spending money, taking a genuine risk, and trying to win a World Series without worrying about hoarding prospects.

If this works out for the Mets, maybe they’ll be trendsetters, and everyone will take notice.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook @Bnightengale

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