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Mets Make Major Move - Will Fantasy Teams Benefit?

The second blockbuster for the Seattle Mariners during the 2018 MLB offseason was finalized on Monday, as the Mariners sent Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to the New York Mets for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic.

By trading Cano and Diaz, the Mariners got financial freedom from Cano's contract and two former first-round picks in Dunn and Kelenic. The Mets, however, receive a boost for their offense in Cano and the best closer from the 2018 season in Diaz

With two former All-Stars headed to Queens, what is the impact of this trade on the Mets lineup and bullpen and what does it mean for fantasy owners in 2019?

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What Impact Will Cano Have For The Amazins' Lineup?

Robinson Cano is 36 years old, and some may say that he is past the prime of his career, but he still had a .303/.374/.471 slash line in 80 games last season. The fact that he only played 80 games in 2018 marred his performance a bit, as he was suspended for PED use. It was still the first season that he had a .300 batting average since 2014. With a. 826 OPS and 107 home runs in his five seasons in Seattle, Cano proved that, while he is not the MVP candidate like he was with the Yankees, he is still a top-10 2B.

Speaking to consistency, Cano has had a batting average of .280 or higher in 13 of his 14 seasons (.271 in 2008 with the Yankees) and has a .450 slugging percentage or higher in each season other than 2008 and 2015. There is something to be said about posting similar slash lines more than a decade apart (.306/.353/.488 in 2007); you know what you are getting with Cano and, remember, he did have 39 home runs and 103 RBI in 2016. While his 39-home run outburst was nice (but might be tainted by his PED suspension), remember that the 2016 season was the only one where he topped 25 home runs in Seattle.

Speaking to park factors, Cano's old ballpark suppressed home runs to lefties, but his new ballpark in Queens was even worse for lefty power in 2017 and 2018. Taking a look at his batted ball data, Cano's hard hit ball rate improved in each season that he was in Seattle, up to a career-best 41.5% hard hit ball rate in 2018. He also had a 11.3% soft hit ball rate last season (the lowest of his career) and his 22.6% line drive rate was better than his career 21.1% mark. Cano was a bit unlucky in terms of power (12.8% HR/FB rate is under his 14.5% career rate), but his 29.4% fly ball rate was his lowest since 2015.

Cano looks like he will bat near the middle of the Mets lineup, in a position to potentially knock in Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil at the top of the lineup. He will no longer have speed demons like Jean Segura and Dee Gordon, but McNeil had some of the best contact rates last season (25th in the second half at 85%) and Nimmo was third in baseball in OBP in the second half (.446). Look for Cano to approach 90 or more RBI, post an OPS in the mid-.800s, and regain his value as a top-seven 2B.


Will Diaz Give The Mets A Top Bullpen?

The best closer of the 2018 season, Edwin Diaz will go to Queens to immediately upgrade their bullpen. Even though Diaz was strong last season, he was also coming off of a 2017 season where he had a 4.02 FIP, allowed 1.4 home runs per nine, and walked 4.4 batters per nine. The 34 saves were nice, as were his 12.1 strikeouts per nine, but he did take a step back from his electric 2016 season.

Turning the page to 2018, Diaz did better than his 2016 season, where he struck out 88 batters in 51 2/3 innings while posting a 2.79 ERA, putting up one of the most dominant seasons from a relief pitcher ever. His 57 saves were the eye catcher for sure, but he also had a 1.61 FIP to go along with his 1.96 ERA and struck out 124 batters in 73 1/3 innings. He allowed just 41 hits in 2018 and posted a 0.79 WHIP, slashing his walk rate by more than half to 2.1 per nine.

Diaz is the top closer leading into the 2019 season, as he will be in a place to save games for Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and co. With the addition of Cano, the Mets offense will be even better as well, potentially putting Diaz in a position for 40 or more saves. For those that say that the Mets do not score enough to put Diaz in a place to get saves, remember that the Mariners scored just one more run than the Mets in 2018 over the course of the season (677 vs. 676). The Mets could use more in front of Diaz in the pen, even though Robert Gsellman had a strong 2018 season, but their elite starting pitching could mitigate any middle relief issues. Even if the walks do return, he has walked three batters per nine throughout his professional career, Diaz's strikeout potential will mitigate any walk issues. He remains one of the top closers in baseball.



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