Robinson Cano traded to Mets: Prospect expert weighs in on Mariners' return of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn
Jeffrey Paternostro is the lead prospect writer for Baseball Prospectus
The New York Mets and Seattle Mariners completed a blockbuster trade Monday, one that will send Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Big Apple in by prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Because there are a lot of moving parts -- and because the trade has played out over a long period of time -- we decided to ask for help on sorting out the prospects involved.
Our helper of choice this go around was Jeffrey Paternostro, the lead prospect writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can follow Paternostro on Twitter, and keep up with all BP's prospect coverage (including their latest top 10s) by clicking here.
What are your general thoughts on the trade from the Mets side?
So if you traded this package just for Edwin Diaz, you would be absolutely thrilled. You also get Robinson Cano at what functionally works out to 5 years/$100 million or so. The issue from the Mets side is while this is probably a significant upgrade over what the Mets would have run out there for 2019, it's not clawing back the gap between them and the Braves. There needs to be more moves following this. Losing Kelenic and Dunn is a big blow to what was only an average-ish system coming into the offseason, but Kelenic was conservatively three years out and Dunn has been uneven on the mound as a pro. Would the Mets have been better off keeping the prospects and taking on the full contract, yes. But that's a tough sell for the Mariners to their fans.
What's the book on Kelenic?
Kelenic is an old for his class, cold-weather prep outfielder, which is a tough profile historically. That said, he's a very, very good prospect. The comp for Mets fans given the background might be something like Brandon Nimmo, but having seen them both at 19, Kelenic is much more polished product. He also has a better chance to stick as an above-average center fielder. He lacks elite closing speed, but he has good instincts and can go get it out there. His arm is a real weapon in the field as well, and I've seen plus-plus grades thrown on it. At the plate he profiles as .260 or .270 hitter with 20 home run pop. Kelenic features more of a broad base of skills than loud tools, but he's still a potential five-tool center fielder. There are some tweener warning signs in the profile, and he has yet to perform in full season ball, so there's still some risk here. We have him as a potential plus regular, but likely to be an average or above-average everyday outfielder, and a borderline top 50 prospect in baseball.
Dunn struggled a bit adjusting to pro ball, but his 2018 was a solid bounce back season. He's on the shorter side for a pitcher, but he can hit 95 as a starter and has an athletic delivery for his size. His slider is his best secondary offering and it flashes plus, although it's inconsistent at present. His change was used sparingly this year, and he's really going to need a better armside offering and better command to stick as a starter long term. Dunn was a reliever at Boston College until his junior year, and he might be best served letting it loose in relief (where he was 96-98 at times) and focusing on the slider exclusively. Overall, there's bigger delta here than you'd like after two full pro seasons from a first-round college arm, but he might have closer stuff in the pen. As a starter, he's potentially above-average, but he might frustrate you with a lack of consistency start-to-start, and he might be more of a fourth/fifth starter in the end.
Where do these two rank within the Mariners system?
Kelenic and Justus Sheffield are about a pick'em for the No. 1 spot, and I would entertain arguments for either depending on what you wanted to weight. They will certainly be 1-2 on our Mariners list. Dunn will likely be top five, and actually profiles not too differently from Erik Swanson, who the Mariners picked up in the Paxton deal.
Do the Mets still have the prospect means to make another notable deal?
Sure. Andres Gimenez and Peter Alonso are both similarly ranked to Kelenic in an overall sense (we have them 1-2 in the Mets system, Kelenic third, but you could plausibly rank them in any order) and Gimenez and Alonso are far closer to major league ready. Alonso has profile issues as a right/right first baseman with a below-average glove, and Gimenez lacks impact upside, but either could headline a deal for a meaningful major league piece. Past that though, the system is very shallow, and almost all the interesting talent spent 2018 in short-season ball.
Remember again that you can follow Paternostro on Twitter, and keep up with all BP's prospect coverage (including their latest top 10s) by clicking here
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