Breaking Down the Mariners/Mets Trade – from two viewpoints

Kingsport Mets Jarred Kelenic (20) bats during a game with the Greeneville Reds at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport TN on 7/11/2018. (TRACY PROFFITT)

From Mets correspondent Ben Wilson’s point of view:
The baseball hot stove is roaring from coast-to-coast with the news of the blockbuster between the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners. While the Mets are receiving two highly talented MLB pieces in eight-time All-Star (and likely Hall of Famer) Robinson Cano and elite young fireballer closer Edwin Diaz, make no mistake that the Mets are paying richly from their farm system. Early rumors of the deal centered around consensus number one Mets prospect Andres Gimenez, and his exclusion from the final package signals the line in the sand by new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. Here is an overview of the player haul from the Mets going to Seattle.

Jarred Kelenic
In many ways, the true headliner of the deal is Kelenic, who has appeal for the Mariners as a potential face of the franchise in centerfield. Kelenic was ranked as the 3rd overall prospect behind Gimenez and Peter Alonso in my midseason Mets Top 50 on Prospects1500. Kelenic had two stops during his debut season after being taken with the 6th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Wisconsin. Kelenic is the most significant first round pick to be dealt by the Mets since Matt Harvey and Michael Fulmer. The 18-year-old Kelenic began the year in the GCL, where he obliterated the competition with a .413/.451/.609 clip in 12 games, quickly earning a promotion to Kingsport in the Appy League. In 56 total games between both levels, Kelenic launched 6 HR, 10 2B, and 3 3B, to go along with 15/16 SB and 26 BB: 50 K.

A plus defender in center, Kelenic can really impact the game in all phases with the hit and power tools, good speed, overall instincts, and throwing arm. The sum of the parts are compelling to predict he could be among the game’s top centerfielders. He makes for a great complement to Mariners’ top outfield prospect, Julio Rodriguez. The fellow teenage outfielder should come stateside for the first time this summer, and boasts loud tools in the power and throwing department. He should be a great pair along with Kelenic as a right handed hitter and they can develop together in the system. They’ll both be a long wait, but make for a truly exciting duo as potential 2-3 hitters in the lineup for years to come. Kelenic should slot ahead of Justus Sheffield in the Mariners revitalized minor league crop.

From the Mets perspective, dealing from their relative lack of outfield prospect depth is a hurt since the Mets have a multitude of infielders in their minor league system (Gimenez, Alonso, Mark Vientos, Ronny Mauricio, Shevyen Newton, Luis Santana). It may trigger a move to the outfield for Mauricio and Santana in particular, though some lower level names in the system such as Adrian Hernandez and Freddy Valdez, and the AFL resurgence of Desmond Lindsay, may have reassured the Mets’ brass to move the talented Kelenic. Expect the Mets to focus their attention on outfield depth in the 2019 draft and J2 class.

Justin Dunn
A fellow cold weather prospect with Kelenic, Dunn pitched in New England at both the Prep School (The Gunnery, CT) and college levels (Boston College, MA). Dunn is another jewel in this trade, ranking as the number 5 overall prospect on the Mets midseason rankings for Prospects1500. After being selected with the 19th overall selection in the 2016 draft, Dunn dazzled in the New York Penn League. Though he had a tough 2017 in High A, he returned to dominance this year as he spent a majority of the season in AA Binghamton.

On the mound, Dunn has four pitches, where the fastball sits in the mid 90’s and can reach 97 with good movement and command. The slider is the best present and future projected secondary offering and serves as a key put away pitch on the glove side and backdoor to LHH. He also features a changeup, which when he’s on, is a put away weapon to LHH. The curveball is his other offering which is progressing through his advancement through the minors. Dunn has an athletic delivery and throws slightly across his body. It is an easy delivery, not max effort by any means, with good arm speed. Dunn should stick in the rotation with the athleticism of the delivery, development of the secondary offerings, and liveliness and ease of his fastball velocity.

Jay Bruce
The focus of the Prospects1500 team is on minor league players; and Bruce does has an impact here most significantly on clearing the way for Peter Alonso to start the year as the Mets Opening Day first baseman (or mid-April service time manipulated first baseman). For prospectors and Mets fans alike, this is a triumphant moment after the frustration that was the Mets awkward handling of the Alonso callup during September. After recently dismantling the AFL, Alonso proved yet again that there is very little to prove at the minor league level. Sure, there is swing and miss at off speed away, and the defense may never progress beyond average at first, but Alonso can square up a fastball with the best of them and launch balls to the moon. As I wrote during the midseason, Alonso won the AAA Las Vegas defensive player award for July, which is a testament that he will not be a complete butcher (as he is unfairly cast) at all over there at first base and continue to put in the effort to improve. In a win now mode for the Mets, it is great to see that Alonso is the clear choice as the everyday option at first.

Anthony Swarzak
Like Bruce, Swarzak’s departure has mainly financial and roster space implications. Swarzack clears a spot in the crowded bullpen, which frankly will only get even more cozy with Edwin Diaz being the first of likely a few more high end pen acquisitions. Bobby Wahl, Tyler Bashlor, Drew Smith, Daniel Zamora and Steve Villines represent some of the more compelling internal options to replace Swarzak and new Mariner teammate Gerson Bautista.

Gerson Bautista
While Bautista was not formally ranked in the midseason prospect list due to making his MLB debut previously, he is an arm with some intrigue and swing-and-miss stuff (12.2 K/9 across 3 levels in 2018). While Bautista can run the fastball in the high 90’s, he gives up a bunch of contact (74 H in 53.1 IP in 2018). While still raw at 23, the Mariners may hope that they can harness Bautista’s command and turn him into a late inning reliver. The bullpen doors are wide open in Seattle with the deals of both Edwin Diaz and second closer Alex Colome to the Chicago White Sox. The Mariners are Bautista’s third organization, as he was previously dealt from the Boston Red Sox in the Addison Reed deadline deal in 2017.

From Mariners correspondent Joe Rush’s point of view:

At the end of another disappointing season for the Mariners, General Manager Jerry Dipoto indicated changes were coming and he wanted to build around young stars Mitch Haniger, Edwin Diaz and Marco Gonzales. Whether this was his actual intention or if he was bluffing, things have certainly changed with the trade of star closer Edwin Diaz along with Robinson Cano to the New York Mets for Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak. While fan reaction has been relatively mixed in Seattle, I am ecstatic that a full rebuild seems to be in motion. There is nothing worse in major league baseball than to be stuck in the middle as an annual fringe playoff contender with no actual chance to win a World Series. To go along with this the Mariners possessed one of the worst farm systems in baseball heading into the off season. Prior to this trade, the Mariners moved ace pitcher James Paxton to the Yankees in exchange for Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams. Sheffield quickly became the M’s number one prospect with Swanson and Thompson-Williams both moving into the organization’s top 10-20 range.

The key components in this trade with the Mets is 19-year-old outfielder Kelenic and hard throwing right hander Dunn, two of the top prospects in the Mets system. Kelenic was drafted sixth overall in last year’s draft out of high school and is a potential five tool player who shined in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast league, earning a promotion to Kingsport. Dunn is the more advanced of the two, having been drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft after pitching at Boston College. Between High-A St. Lucie and AA Binghamton, Dunn struck out had 156 strikeouts in 135.1 innings. The M’s have now acquired 4 potential future rotation pitchers in less than a year; Sheffield, 2018 1st round pick Logan Gilbert, Dunn and Swanson to go along with 2017 2nd round draftee Sam Carlson.

Dipoto shouldn’t and probably won’t stop here. The Mariners have thus far this offseason traded starting catcher Mike Zunino, 4th Outfielder Guillermo Heredia, ace Paxton, closer Diaz, set up man Alex Colome and second baseman Cano. Now is the time to go all in and completely rebuild the entire system. No one should be off limits including Haniger and Jean Segura. If those two are moved for prospects, all of last year’s Mariners All-Stars will be on different teams in 2019, with Nelson Cruz in all certainty also signing elsewhere as a free agent. By the time Spring Training comes, the Mariners could very well have one of the top five to ten farm systems in baseball, which is reason to be cautiously and highly optimistic at the same time for the future.


Featured image of Jarred Kelenic – via Tracy Proffitt/

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