The Mets and Mariners face each other for the first time since the Robinson Canó trade in 2018

The Seattle Mariners and New York Mets will face each other in a three-game series at Citi Field this weekend. The Mets play host and have a 22-11 record that gives them a 6 1/2 lead in the NL East. The Mariners have lost 12 of their last 15 games. Max Scherzer starts for the Mets on Friday and contender George Kirby starts for the Mariners on Saturday.

Normally that would be the most pertinent detail in a series that we rarely see and that has very little history.

At the moment, however, these two teams are linked by what was then a huge trade with now lingering consequences. This is the first time these two teams have played since the said trade.

It was December 3, 2018 when the seven-player blockbuster became official.

Mets got: Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz

Sailors received: Gerson Bautista, Jay Bruce, Justin Dunn, Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Swarzak

What has happened since then is quite fascinating. Back then it was a matter of getting Canó and Díaz from the Mets huge agreement. Sure, Canó came off a PED suspension, but he was very productive during his time in Seattle (.296/.353/.472, 129 OPS+). Diaz had a ridiculous season with 57 saves, in which he retired 124 batters in 73 1/3 innings at age 24. time prospect.

The linchpin for the Mariners’ side of the deal was, of course, Kelenic.

Fast forward a few years and it looked like he would be the reason the Mariners “won the trade.”

We can get Bautista, Bruce and Swarzak out of the way immediately. Bautista had an 11.00 ERA in nine innings for the Mariners in 2019 and now pitches in the Mexican League. Bruce was traded after 47 games for a player who will probably never make the majors. Swarzak was moved to the Braves in a minor deal in May 2019.

Dunn was enough in 11 starts for the Mariners last season, but he was traded as part of the deal that landed Mariners Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker off-season last season.

Kelenic leaves that.

He placed sixth overall in the high school draft and signed with the Mets. There are only a select few players these days who deserve the ‘unmissable’ label – think Bryce Harper types – but Kelenic was not far off the mark. Almost everyone in the baseball world raved about his future advantage. He was what really made the trade worthwhile.

Remember that big hoopla leading up to the 2021 season when audio leaked from Mariners President Kevin Mather admits they deliberately manipulated top prospects’ service time† Kelenic was actually the most important part of that. He was that important. Prospect rankers had him in baseball’s top 10.

Meanwhile, Canó wasn’t very good in 2019 and Díaz was worse – he had a 5.59 ERA with seven blown saves (several of the high profile variety) in a mostly disastrous season. In 2020, both were good, but the Mets missed the extended playoffs. Then Canó was picked for PEDs again and the Mets again missed the playoffs in 2021.

Kelenic debuted with much fanfare on May 13, 2021. He went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a home run the next day and his ascent to stardom was underway.

Hand-wringing over Queens trade was widespread.

But …

Things don’t always go as planned. Kelenic struggled so much that he was demoted back to the minors less than a month later.

He has now played 123 games in his MLB career. He registered -1.8 WAR while beating .173/.256/.338 (67 OPS+) striking out 142 in 423 at bats. He’s only 22 years old so firing him would be laughable, but he’s not doing well at all and there are legitimate concerns about his game.

Back at the end of the Mets, Canó hit .195 this season with a .501 OPS and has been released. They eat about $40 million as a result of that move, but it was the right baseball move and kudos to them for cutting bait at a sunken price rather than holding onto the hope that a miracle could happen.

Diaz was great though. He has increased his slider usage and it was utter filth. Watch this and note the speed.

Yes, his average slider this season is 90.1 miles per hour. By contrast, opponents have an average of .094 with a slugging of .188 and have missed 55.7 percent of their swings.

Díaz has a 1.93 ERA, 0.86 whip and strikeouts 24 in 14 innings. He is only 28 years old. The odds of him eventually becoming the best player in the trade, from the point of trade forward, seem pretty good. It’s also reasonable to believe that at some point Kelenic will figure things out and end up being the best player in the deal. After all, he is only 22 years old.

However, we don’t have to litigate again about the trade in this space. There’s plenty of baseball to play for the two players who ended up being the main components of the deal.

It’s definitely worth noting though that the two teams will face off for the first time since the trade and it’s basically just Kelenic vs. Diaz on this point. Maybe we’ll see them on the line at some point this weekend? That would be nice.

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