Robinson Cano’s second positive test for performance-enhancing drugs has cost him the entire 2021 season and $24 million.
Bad news for the 38-year-old who was once on track to be a Hall of Famer. Not bad news for the New York Mets, who now gain more financial flexibility by not having to pay Cano his $24 million while another spot opens to improve the roster next season.
With the void created by the suspension, the Mets are suddenly presented with new, intriguing paths to pursue this offseason — although their feasibility isn’t necessarily guaranteed.
As for now, here is what it means for some notable Mets and major leaguers moving forward:
Jeff McNeil: The first, most likely domino to fall from Cano’s suspension is that Jeff McNeil can return to his natural position at second base. The Mets’ best natural hitter has been a liability defensively while Cano harbored second, struggling at third base and in left field.
JD Davis: The Mets’ infield logjam forced Davis into the outfield as well, taking him away from his natural position at third base. His defense at either spot doesn’t instill much confidence, regardless, and he could be an expendable piece in Queens. Trade rumors have swirled around the 27-year-old and he could be a part of a hypothetical package to bring in the likes of Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop, Francisco Lindor.
DJ LeMahieu: Coming off an American League batting title with the Yankees, LeMahieu lined himself up perfectly for a big payday this offseason as a free agent. The veteran is capable of providing reliable defense at three positions — including third base — immediately throttling him into Mets rumors when Cano was suspended. The extra money would allow the Mets to pursue LeMahieu, potentially bringing on a top-of-the-order bat fresh off a .364 season. However, early reports from SNY’s Andy Martino indicate that the Yankees have a much better chance of re-signing LeMahieu than the Mets do at coaxing him across town. If anything, it strengthens the market for LeMahieu, who could get even more money from a potential suitor, whether that’s the Yankees or another club.
Andres Gimenez: The young infielder impressed during his rookie campaign in 2020, but there has and likely will be traffic ahead of him at the shortstop position. If the Mets move McNeil to second and can move Davis in a hypothetical trade package for Lindor, third base is open for the taking, allowing Gimenez and his slick glove to be the team’s Opening Day man at the hot corner.
Steve Cohen: With an extra $24 million basically appearing out of thin air, the Mets have roughly $69.4 million to work with before hitting the luxury tax for 2021. That gives the franchise a considerable boost to address its most dire needs in free agency, including starting pitching, bullpen help, catcher, and center field.
Starter Trevor Bauer, catchers JT Realmuto and James McCann, and center fielder George Springer have all been linked to the Mets this offseason. With that much free space, the Mets could find a way to get the top available free agents at their positions of need with enough space to bolster the bullpen.