Former Eagle Justin Dunn Moved in Blockbuster Trade
By: Bryan Bruwer
After days of intrigue and speculation, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners agreed to a seven player deal that drastically alters the outlook of both franchises. The Mariners dealt young, flame-throwing closer Edwin Diaz (who led the league with 57 saves in 2018) and eight-time all-star second baseman Robinson Cano in exchange for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak (who was immediately traded to Philadelphia) and a cache of prospects centered around the Mets 2018 first round pick Jarred Kellenic and their 2016 first round selection, Justin Dunn, who is perhaps BC’s most talented baseball product in years.
Obviously, this trade signifies the Mets and Mariners moving in different directions as franchises. Despite having an excellent first half in which they had the fourth best record in all of baseball (and a near 90% chance of reaching the postseason), the Mariners limped to the finish line and missed the playoffs for 17thstraight season, the longest streak of any franchise in the “big four” American sports. The Mets season had the exact opposite trajectory. Their first half was an unmitigated disaster, but they rebounded by going 38-30 after the all-star break thanks to the emergence of players like Jeff McNeil. It’s clear the Mariners front office was so disgusted by yet another collapse that they saw no other alternative but to tear it all down and start over, as the M’s have engaged in a fire sale so far this offseason in which they have parted with their most prized assets including James Paxton and Jean Segura, in addition to Diaz and Cano. The Mets, on the other hand, saw enough from their squad in the second half to warrant being buyers who intend to make a run in 2019.
By virtue of this move, the Mets add a bona-fide stud to the back end of their bullpen, which has been an area of great concern for as long as the last decade or so. Although Robinson Cano is vastly overpaid and is 36 years old, he is still an elite second baseman offensively (hitting no worse than .280 since his age 30 season) and he provides the Mets with a big bat in the middle of the order, something they need desperately, especially since it is anticipated that Yoenis Cespedes will be sidelined for much of the regular season. It will be incredibly interesting to see whether or not the Mets decide to move Noah Syndergaard, as his name has been churning in the rumor mill for quite some time. It is worth noting that the Mets new general manager Brodie Van Waganen is currently the agent of both Syndergaard and the newly acquired Cano, which makes this deal even more interesting.
This trade represents the end of a chapter in Seattle, one largely characterized by wasted potential. Since acquiring Cano back in 2014, the Mariners have consistently been a talented team with a reputation for coming up short time and time again. They have decided to shed that template as they now head for a complete rebuild, recouping some nice pieces in this trade. Jarred Kellenic has a very high ceiling and was valued highly by the Mets, but he is only 19 years old and hasn’t even encountered single-A pitching yet. Even if Kellenic will be able to contribute at the major league level, he is likely still a few years away. Justin Dunn was also coveted by the Mets, but they currently have multiple ace-caliber starters in their arsenal, in addition to two starters who have shown great promise in Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. The loss of Dunn was a pill they were able to swallow in order to address current pressing needs such as the middle infield and the bullpen.
Justin Dunn struggled in his first professional season in 2017, but he was able to buck that trend and put forth a great season in the minors in 2018 for which he was recognized as the Mets 2018 Organizational Pitcher of the Year. Dunn mowed down hitters in Single-A to the tune of a 2.36 ERA before being promoted to Double-A Binghamton, where he struck out 105 hitters in only 15 starts. Dunn has strong upside and appears to be progressing as he moves up the ladder in the minor leagues, and it should only be matter of time before he breaks through to the majors. Dunn, alongside with former Yankee Justus Sheffield, represent the next generation of Mariners pitchers, and will likely be at the forefront of an effort to bring the Mariners back to relevance in the near to distant future.