Ackert: Mets promise more moves after Cano-Diaz trade but time will tell if it's truly a new era

Your first is always special.

For Brodie Van Wagenen, his inaugural deal as the Mets GM was big, dramatic and its success is contingent on the idea that the Mets can win in 2019.

The first-year GM celebrated his first trade Tuesday at Citi Field, introducing eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano to Mets fans as one of the greatest to ever play second base and American League reliever of the year Edwin Diaz as one of the best closers in the game.

It was a little over the top, but that can be expected with the novelty.

“Your first move, is always your first,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. “I like that it’s a bigger deal than a run of the mill deal.”

This move will be remembered either as “relentless and fearless,” as Van Wagenen likes to say, or it will be remembered as foolish and full of false promises.

That all depends on what Van Wagenen and the Mets are able to do next. After talking about having a “winning mindset,” he promised this wouldn’t be the last move this offseason.

It can’t be, particularly since the Mets continue to insist that they can win in 2019.

“We're not in any mode to try to finish fourth in this division,” Van Wagenen said, hours before the Nationals signed starter Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal. “We want to be competitive, not just with the other teams in this division but with the teams across baseball.

“We won't make decisions based on the landscape, but on how we can increase win probability next year."

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This move, a seven-player deal that brought Cano and Diaz to New York, sending back Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and prospects Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista, has an immediate impact as the Mets see it.

Cano, 36, instantly becomes the club’s best hitter, settling his sweet left-handed swing into the No.3 spot. He certainly can add a few more runs to a team that averaged just over four a game. Diaz, who recorded 57 saves last season, gives the Mets a dangerous weapon to back up their strong starting rotation.

“I think the analytics guys said this took us from an 82-83 win team to an 88-90 win team,” Wilpon said.

That is not going to be good enough and the Mets know it.

"He’s got bullpen, he’s got catcher, he’s got a utility infielder, he’s got maybe a center fielder,” Wilpon said of the list of needs his GM told him the Mets must address this winter.

That is going to cost the Mets as their payroll for 2019 is already creeping toward the $150 million they opened 2018 with. Neither Van Wagenen nor Wilpon would be specific about the expected 2019 payroll, but stressed they have “flexibility.”

“Brodie understands the parameters he’s working within, be it trades…. also the ability to do some other things with some of the insurance money and arbitration, obviously non-tendering (Wilmer Flores) frees up some money,” Wilpon said.

The Mets receive about 75% of David Wright’s salary from insurance and are working on a settlement to get him off the roster at this point. Wilpon said that they are getting a smaller percentage of Yoenis Cespedes’ salary back while he is recovering from heel surgery. He said that “some” of that would be reinvested into the payroll.

"You don’t get it all back at once, but over time we plan to get that back and some of that will go back to payroll, certainly,” Wilpon said.

So, the celebration for the first move is over. It’s time to get back to work.

The COO, who was in Rwanda tracking gorillas last week as the deal was percolating, said that he will be heading to Las Vegas for the MLB Winter Meetings next week, because there is a lot of work to be done.

“A lot more that is going to happen between now and the winter meetings and at the winter meetings,” Wilpon said. “I know Brodie already has a full schedule there. He’s dragging me out there to have me in real time. The fact is I think a lot will happen through the winter meetings and up to the holidays.”

Bringing Cano and Diaz to Flushing is always going to be remembered as Van Wagenen’s first trade as Mets’ GM.

What he can do in the next few weeks will determine whether it’s remembered as a good deal and an exciting new era for the Mets or just more false promises.

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