Mets cut ties with Robinson Canó, designating him for assignment
The Mets cut ties with Canó, who is still owed approximately $38m by the Mets through 2023
The Mets were faced with a roster crunch ahead of Monday’s noon deadline to truncate from 28 players to 26, one of which needed to be a position player.
In the end, the Mets made the move with the pill most difficult to swallow, albeit the correct one in designating INF Robinson Canó for assignment.
The Mets also optioned RHP Yoan López to Triple-A Syracuse.
The move doesn’t come without significant financial consequence. The Mets will be responsible for paying Canó approximately $38 million through the 2023 season unless a team inexplicably decides to claim Canó off waivers (at which point that team would pay the vast majority of that sum). Such a scenario is very much unlikely to play out.
But cutting ties with Canó is still the best move for the roster despite being a popular presence and mentor inside the Mets clubhouse. Canó was just 8-for-41 at the plate with one extra-base hit, that being an opposite field home run against the Diamondbacks on April 15. He had managed only one hit to the right side, according to Statcast. He was also not getting any lift on the ball and was clearly blind on breaking pitches, specifically on the inner half of the plate. In addition, Cano’s reduced range, foot speed and lack of versatility had relegated him to a designated hitter role in which he produced a .316 OPS in 19 plate appearances.
It made little sense to consider demoting Dominic Smith, who currently provides plus defense at first base, and instead have Canó - who is not a first baseman - serve in that capacity.
Besides, Smith wasn’t going to hit .167 forever (he raised his average 83 points with his 4-for-4 against the Phillies on Sunday).
In addition, JD Davis has emerged as an elite pinch hitter and a general threat against left-handed pitching, something Canó isn’t capable of doing either. Luis Guillorme is a superior defender with far better range at two middle infield positions and is proving once again to have strong bat-to-ball skills as well.
Then there is Travis Jankowski, who is an elite defender with elite speed, serving as an asset as a backup centerfielder and a late game defensive replacement/pinch runner.
All of the other options in play - including Smith - can play multiple positions as well.
As for the 39-year-old Canó, his status and ability coming into the 2022 season were always in question after missing a full season due to a second PED suspension and having played in just 49 games since the conclusion of the 2019 season. He was already showing reduced range before the ban and he was clearly struggling to get any lift on the ball in his brief showing this season. His ineffectiveness on both sides of the ball made him a roster liability, and was taking valuable at-bats away from the likes of Davis, Smith, and other players who might be more productive instead. The Mets need more production from their designated hitters, who have combined for a .536 OPS over the first 23 games of the season, and this move should help serve that purpose.
In the past, cutting Canó might not have been the likeliest of outcomes. But with a new owner and a different agenda, the Mets made a decision, while costly to the wallet, that did not come at the expense of what is best for the name of the front of the jersey.
Canó hit .269/.350/.450 with 24 home runs and 72 RBI in 168 games spread over three-plus seasons with the Mets.