Wouldn’t you love to have the same job security as baseball’s only GM to play in the bigs? Jerry Dipoto oversaw the greatest period of Mariners baseball since Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez were hitting bombs every other at-bat. And now, he’s decided he’s had enough of winning.
After trading away ace James Paxton, signaling a full-scale rebuild, Dipoto has reportedly traded star closer Edwin Diaz to the Mets so they would take Robinson Cano. Yes, a rebuilding team traded away their most valuable asset to dump salary. Not a competing team, a rebuilding team.
Dipoto has already made a mess of this offseason, and this isn’t going to end soon.
I applaud teams like the White Sox or the Reds who, despite not having a lot of wins last year, believe they should take steps to better their franchise. They sucked, realized they sucked, went through this rebuild, and are taking steps to get out of it. The only difference between those two teams and the Mariners is that, quite frankly, the Mariners don’t suck.
The Mariners won 89 games last season. In most seasons, that’s enough to grab a second wild card, or at least be really close. They also did this despite one of their best hitters, Robinson Cano, being suspended 80 games. Everyone was able to see Seattle was going to make another playoff push in 2019. The only person who didn’t see that was Jerry Dipoto.
There’s absolutely no way he was scared off by the financial capabilities of the A’s and Rays. If that happened, not only should Dipoto be fired, but quickly exiled. I refuse to believe that happened. And since it didn’t, what was Dipoto scared about?
Was he scared a team without the money or prospects to bring in reinforcements was going to up their best case scenario season? Was he scared that Kevin Cash was going to “opener” teams into submission 100 times? Was he scared the Angels would finally become competent?
Dipoto gave up on his team. He gave up on the most talented team the Mariners have had in recent memory. The decision to rebuild was bad enough, but the way it’s been executed has been arguably even worse.
They traded Mike Zunino, who is a good major league catcher, and Guillermo Heredia for someone who doesn’t really fit their organizational philosophy, and also isn’t a great player, in Mallex Smith.
Justus Sheffield is going to be a good major league starter one day, but you can’t trade James Paxton for a guy who wants to be James Paxton. The other pieces they got behind Sheffield were nowhere near valuable enough to warrant that trade. I get Paxton’s durability issues, but Dipoto should have done better.
My bigger issue comes, however, with this current trade. And I really like Jarred Kelenic, who is headed to Seattle. Jerry Dipoto resigned to the fact that Robinson Cano, who had 2.9 fWAR in only 80 games last season, had a negative value. The Mets, for once, are profiting off of another team’s incompetence. It’s truly a bizarro world.
Complete deal is Cano, Diaz plus $20M for Bruce, Swarzak, Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 2, 2018
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If you were to tell me a month ago that the Mariners would trade Edwin Diaz to the Mets for two prospects, I would have guessed it was Andres Gimenez (New Yorks #1 prospect) and one of Justin Dunn or David Peterson. The Mariners got less than those guys for not only Diaz but a potential all-star second baseman. They either significantly undervalued Diaz, or they believe Robinson Cano’s trade value was well below negative.
I get that Cano’s trade value is low. He’s 36 and his contract runs until age 41. He’s one PED bust away from missing a full season. He gets paid $24 million a year. But he’s also still one of the best 2B in baseball, and absolutely does not have a negative value.
The Mariners also decided it was a smart idea to pay almost 20% of Robinson Cano’s salary for him to not play in Seattle. They dealt him to get his contract off the books, but will still pay him $4 million a year over the next five years, knowing full well he will be really good for two or three of those. They also decided it was smart to take on the salaries of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, which total $37.5 million (though over a shorter duration).
Projections, value and contracts for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz over the life of their current contracts. Diaz has yet to reach arbitration, so I used Zach Britton's arb $ with a for 40% increase for year three. Just an estimate, but the Mets would not do well here: pic.twitter.com/eXLBEousK8
— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) November 29, 2018
Robinson Cano is projected to be worth around $75 million over the next five years. The Mets now get him for, in all essence, $62.5 million. Should Cano hit those projections, which see him as a replacement level player over 82 games, should he build off of last season, this deal isn’t close to fair. That’s $12.5 million in surplus value for a guy the Mariners paid the Mets to take. Combined, these projections state the Mariners get over $50 million in surplus value in this trade.
It feels weird to say, but the Mets just absolutely fleeced someone. Brodie Van Wagenen is off to quite possibly the best start I can think of for a GM in a long, long time.
This trade looks to be a thievery so bad that Butch Cassidy would be jealous. I’m so intrigued as to see how Jerry Dipoto tries to justify why he got so little for the best closer in baseball, a top-10 second baseman, and $60 million. He can’t possibly do it.
Jerry Dipoto is going to have to fleece someone for Mitch Haniger to come away looking at a solid tear down, and I have no faith in him to do it. You also know he’s going to make about 12 more trades before pitchers and catchers report, because that’s just who Jerry Dipoto is as a general manager.
This is going to get worse before it gets better, and I’m sorry for the Mariners fans who are having to go through this. On the off chance that Jerry Dipoto is able to make this team better than 89 wins in five years, which seems unlikely given the trades so far, he could have invested in his current squad and gotten more than 89. He could have stayed pat with his current roster and gotten more than 89 wins. Instead, he believes the smart course of action was to make sure his team’s playoff drought reaches legal drinking age.
This is bad.
(Editor’s Note: There was previously reported information used in this piece which has now been reported as untrue. This has been updated in the current updated version of the piece.)