Age: October 22, 1982 (36)
Traditional Stats: .303/.374/.471, 22 2B, 10 HR, 50 RBI
Advanced Stats: 3.2 bWAR, 2.9 fWAR, 136 OPS+, 136 wRC+
Defensive Stats: 4 DRS, 2.8 UZR
Remaining Contract: 5 years, $120 million
Prior to the 2018 season, Cano was on a Hall of Fame track, and even with his contract still perceived as an albatross on the back-end, he was still a very productive player.
In 2016 and 2017, he was an All-Star. Over that time period, among Major League second basemen, he ranked fourth in games played, wRC+, and fWAR. Given his age, he was surprisingly second in DRS over that time frame. No matter how you looked at it, he was one of the top five second basemen in the majors.
Due to his testing positive for Furosemide, which is a banned substance as it is commonly taken to help cheat PED tests, Cano was suspended 80 games. After he returned from his lengthy self-induced absence, Cano hit .317/.363/.497 in 41 games.
The Mariners are now rebuilding, though, and part of that process would involve trading Cano. There are obstacles to that. First and foremost, Cano has a full no-trade clause, which would allow him to veto a trade to any team. Mostly, you’re looking for someone to take on his contract, which is a nearly impossible feat without any incentive.
That isn’t stopping the Mariners from trying. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mariners have reached out to the Mets and Yankees to gauge their interest in Cano. With respect to the Mets, a source said the could only see the team being interested if the Mariners “significantly paid down his current contract and attached a top prospect to any deal.”
Why the Mets Should Obtain Him
It’s difficult to believe the Mariners would trade a top prospect at a time when they are rebuilding. However, it does beg the question what the Mariners would be willing to include in a deal to move Cano’s contract.
At the moment, the Mariners are reportedly not interested in trading Mitch Haniger or Edwin Diaz. They’re holding onto either doesn’t make much sense. Haniger will be 28 next year and a free agent in 2023. Diaz is a closer who will be a free agent the same year. It’s difficult to believe either will be a part of the Mariners when they are ready to contend again.
If the Mets are able to pull off a blockbuster which will net them Haniger and/or Diaz, they have to be interested. Haniger and Diaz are two players who are very good fits for this Mets roster.
This all overlooks how Cano is still a very good player. He’s also someone who could possibly shift over to first base, which would permit them to keep Jeff McNeil in the lineup. If McNeil struggles, Cano can play second where he had been the best defender in the majors over the past few seasons.
Looking at it, adding Cano with another significant piece greatly improves this Mets roster, and it suddenly makes this Mets team legitimate World Series contenders.
Why the Mets Shouldn’t Obtain Him
The red flags with Cano are everywhere. He is 36, and you have to pay him until he is 40. He has the PED suspension. The Mariners are also not looking to just dump him. Circling back to Rosenthal’s report, the Mariners were not interested in a bad contract trade with the Yankees. In fact, they were unwilling to take back Jacoby Ellsbury and the remaining two years $47.3 million left on his contract.
If the Mariners are not treating this like a straight salary dump, you have to wonder why anyone would want Cano. Even if he is productive for a year or two, he would still be wildly overpaid for three seasons. That’s a lot to take on for any team. It’s unduly burdensome for a Mets team which has allowed themselves to be hamstrung by David Wright‘s contract.
If you can go out and make the blockbuster, do it. A top of the lineup with Cano and Haniger along with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto would be phenomenal. It would be game-changing. With the Mets pitching, it could propel them to a World Series.
If you can get Haniger or Diaz, you need to do what it takes to do it, even if you are adding Cano, who should still be a top second baseman (or first baseman) next year. The only obstacles in the way are Brodie Van Wagenen’s ability to get a deal like this done and, as always, the Wilpons willingness to add a contract to put this team over the top.