The blockbuster December 2018 trade made by the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners means the teams will be linked together for the foreseeable future.
However, there may not be much of a referendum on the swap this weekend when the Mets host the Mariners in a three-game series beginning Friday night.
New York right-hander Max Scherzer (4-1, 2.92 ERA) is slated to start Friday against left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-4, 3.91).
The Mets remained unbeaten in series play Thursday afternoon, when Taijuan Walker tossed seven scoreless innings and Mark Canha homered and finished with three RBIs in a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals.
The Mariners last played Wednesday, when they fell to the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in the rubber game of a three-game set.
The Mets and Mariners haven’t played one another since July 28-30, 2017, when host Seattle won two of three. A little more than 16 months later — on Dec. 3, 2018 — the teams made one of the biggest trades of the 2018-19 offseason when New York sent five players, including 2018 first-round draft pick Jarred Kelenic, to rebuilding Seattle in exchange for second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz.
Three-plus years later, the trade has yet to work out as either club hoped.
Kelenic, a consensus top-five prospect entering the 2021 season, is the lone player remaining from the deal still with the Mariners. However, he is hitting just .173 in 423 big league at-bats — including .140 in 86 at-bats this year as Seattle, which missed the playoffs by two games last year, has stumbled to a 14-18 start.
Kelenic started eight of the Mariners’ first 10 games this month before coming off the bench as a ninth-inning pinch hitter Wednesday, when he struck out on four pitches and didn’t swing the bat.
“I think he was a little frustrated with his at-bat (Wednesday), no question,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’ll continue to get the opportunity to play here.”
Cano batted just .269 with the Mets — and was suspended for the entire 2021 season after he failed a PED test for the second time — before he was released Sunday with almost two years and more than $40 million remaining on his contract.
Diaz has blown 18 save opportunities since 2019, third most in the majors, but has a 2.81 ERA since the start of 2020 and is 7-for-8 in save opportunities with 24 strikeouts in 14 innings this season.
Cano’s struggles and Diaz’s volatility have been easier to absorb for the Mets, who were bought by billionaire Steve Cohen following the 2020 season and have surged into first place this year following a $250 million-plus free agent spending spree and the hiring of manager Buck Showalter.
New York is 9-0-1 in series, with the only blemish a four-game split with the Atlanta Braves last week.
“As long as we keep winning series throughout the year, we’ll be in a good spot,” Walker said.
Scherzer’s unbeaten streak ended at 24 starts on Sunday, when he took the loss after giving up three runs over six innings as the Mets fell 3-2 to the Phillies.
Gonzales took a defeat on Saturday, when he surrendered three runs (two earned) over 5 1/3 innings in the Mariners’ 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Scherzer is 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA in seven career starts against the Mariners. Gonzales has never opposed the Mets.
–Field Level Media