NEW YORK — Aiming for an instant upgrade after two failing seasons, the New York Mets and their rookie general manager turned to a most familiar face.
The Mets made a splash — that much was certain — when they acquired eight-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and major league saves leader Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners in a seven-player trade Monday.
In his first big move as Mets GM, Brodie Van Wagenen brought the 36-year-old Cano back to New York. Van Wagenen previously was an agent and represented the former Yankees slugger.
The rebuilding Mariners also sent $20 million to the Mets for outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak and three prospects: former first-round draft picks Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic, plus right-hander Gerson Bautista.
Mets fans were strongly split on the deal.
Some applauded the trade as a chance for a team three years removed from the World Series to quickly head back in that direction. The Mets went 77-85 this year despite a rotation that included NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler.
Others saw the Mets mortgaging their future for a high-priced player on the back end of his career. Many Mets rooters remembered deals for aging second basemen Carlos Baerga and Roberto Alomar Jr. that didn't work out — it was also mentioned that on this date, Dec. 3, back in 1969, the Mets traded soon-to-be star center fielder Amos Otis to Kansas City for washout third baseman Joe Foy.
Van Wagenen, Cano and Diaz were set to talk about the deal Tuesday during a holiday party at Citi Field.
Cano is halfway through a $240 million, 10-year contract. With the cash from Seattle, the Mets will be responsible for $100 million of the $120 million owed to Cano.
Cano served an 80-game suspension this year following a positive test for Furosemide, a diuretic that can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs. Cano claimed the Furosemide was given to him by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic. The suspension was announced May 15, two days after Cano's right hand was broken when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Detroit's Blaine Hardy.
Cano returned to the Mariners on Aug. 14 and finished with a .303 batting average, 10 homers and 50 RBIs in 80 games. He waived his no-trade clause to return to New York.
Van Wagenen was co-head of CAA Baseball before joining the Mets in October and negotiated Cano's contract with Seattle in December 2013. Cano has a .304 career batting average with 311 homers and 1,233 RBIs, including four 100-RBI seasons. He has a career .848 OPS, including an .845 mark last season.
Diaz's value may never have been higher after the hard-throwing 24-year-old topped the majors with 57 saves last season. The Mets needed a closer after trading Jeurys Familia to Oakland last July.
The Mariners are completely revamping their roster this offseason, having already traded ace James Paxton to the Yankees. Seattle also traded All-Star shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers James Pazos and Juan Nicasio to Philadelphia on Monday for veteran slugger Carlos Santana and young infielder J.P. Crawford.
"This trade bolsters our player development system with the additions of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, while also providing immediate impact to our major league club," Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said in a statement.
Diaz had a 1.96 ERA and struck out 124 in 73 1/3 innings.
Seattle has not reached the playoffs since 2001, the longest postseason drought across the four major pro American sports. After finishing third in the AL West despite an 89-73 record, the Mariners decided to go in another direction.
Bruce, a three-time All-Star with Cincinnati who is 31, was acquired by the Mets at the 2016 trade deadline, dealt to Cleveland in August 2017, became a free agent and returned to the Mets last January. He hit .223 this year and set career lows with nine homers and 37 RBIs, sidelined from June 18 through Aug. 24 by a right hip issue.
Swarzak, 33, was 0-2 with a 6.15 ERA in 29 relief appearances. He was on the disabled list twice, from April 1 through June 4 due to a strained left oblique and from Aug. 4 through Sept. 8 with right shoulder inflammation.
Bruce is owed $13 million in each of the next two seasons, and Swarzak is due $9 million in the final season of his two-year deal.
Kelenic, a 19-year-old outfielder, was the sixth overall selection this year and hit .286 with six homers, 42 RBIs and 15 steals in 56 games of rookie ball. Dunn, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the 19th overall pick in 2016 and was 8-8 with a 3.59 ERA this year over 24 starts at Class A and Double-A.
MLB.com slotted Kelenic as the No. 2 prospect in Seattle's system and Dunn at No. 3. They're behind left-hander Justus Sheffield, who was acquired from the Yankees last month for Paxton.
Bautista, a 23-year-old right-hander, made his big league debut with the Mets last April and had a 12.46 ERA in five big league appearances. He was 4-1 with a 5.14 ERA in 37 games at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 69 in 49 innings.
Seattle will pay $5 million to the Mets this Dec. 21 and $3.75 million on each Dec. 1 from 2019-22.