During his first season as general manager of the New York Mets, Brodie Van Wagenen was aggressive in trying to trade for assets to help the team win in the near future. In the winter leading into 2020, the Mets traded multiple prospects to the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
The trade was an abject failure. Cano batted a career-worst .256 and only appeared in 107 games due to injury. Diaz went from star closer to bum in a flash, putting up a 5.59 ERA and seven blown saves. Instead of calling the season lost, Van Wagenen made another huge win-now move in the middle of the season to help the then 50-55 Mets.
The trade was bold. The Mets had to give up a lot to get Marcus Stroman, sending pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson to Toronto. The two pitchers ranked fourth and sixth (according to MLB Pipeline) in the Mets' already thin farm system. Critics were quick to mock the Mets for adding another top tier pitcher when they had little chance of making the playoffs.
In the end, the gamble paid off. The Mets would finish just outside of the Wild Card spot in 2019, finishing 86-76. They went 8-3 in games Stroman started, including a momentum-building 7-6 win on Aug. 9 against NL East Washington Nationals.
The Mets fell short of the playoffs in 2019, but they are going to need Stroman even more in 2020. Zack Wheeler left for the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, and Noah Syndergaard will be out all season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
With those two gone, Stroman is suddenly the unquestioned No. 2 behind Jacob deGrom in the rotation. The once confusing trade now looks like pretty darn good for New York, especially if they can convince the right-hander to re-sign after 2020.