Mets cut Robinson Canó with almost $45 million left on deal

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Three years after Robinson Cano returned to New York, his ill-fated marriage with the Mets is over.

Cano was cut with nearly $45 million remaining on his contract, possibly signaling the end of his decorated major league career. The veteran slugger wants to keep playing ball – but he’ll have to catch on elsewhere.

“I don’t think it’s over for Robbie,” New York manager Buck Showalter said. “But we’ve got to think about what’s right for the Mets right now.”

A slumping Cano was designated for assignment in a move announced about an hour before teams were required to trim their active rosters from 28 players to 26. Relegated to a part-time role this season, Cano was a casualty of the crunch as the first-place Mets chose to keep younger, more versatile bench players instead.

“Given the construction of the roster and how the playing time was going to be allocated, it put us in a position where we had to make some difficult decisions,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “Ultimately it came to the point where it was Robbie, because we just weren’t going to have the plate appearances.”

The 39-year-old Cano, who sat out last season while serving his second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, is batting .195 (8 for 41) with one home run, three RBIs and a paltry .501 OPS in 43 plate appearances. He homered to the opposite field with a vintage swing in the home opener April 15 against Arizona, but had appeared in just 12 of 23 games, starting six at second base and five at designated hitter.

Despite his early struggles in a reduced role, the decision to jettison Cano was still a complicated one for the Mets – and not only because of all the money he’s owed.

He remained a popular presence in the clubhouse, happy to share his baseball wisdom. Cano and several teammates said they were confident he would eventually produce at the plate if given the opportunity. And with the writing perhaps on the wall already, star shortstop Francisco Lindor said Sunday he wouldn’t be happy if Cano was cut.

Lindor said Monday night he was “sad” about the move.

“I didn’t want to see him go. But I respect the team’s decision,” he explained. “He’s a great guy.”

Eppler and Showalter delivered the news during a meeting with Cano in Showalter’s office at Citi Field after Sunday night’s victory over Philadelphia.

“He was a pro,” said Eppler, who has known Cano for about two decades since the sweet-swinging second baseman was a young prospect in the New York Yankees’ system. “This one was tough.”

Said Showalter: “It was emotional for all of us.”

Showalter said Eppler offered Cano the chance to go down to Triple-A Syracuse to get some consistent at-bats, but both believe Cano wants to hook on with another major league team.

“I told him I’ll do whatever I can to kind of help that in any way, shape or form that we can,” Eppler said. “See if there’s a landing spot for him. And if there’s not, then I will welcome him back here in a different capacity, too. If he wants that. That’s up to him. I don’t think he’s going to have a problem finding another job, in my opinion.”

An eight-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Cano spent his first nine big league seasons across town with the Yankees and helped them win the 2009 World Series. He has won five Silver Slugger awards and was MVP of the 2017 All-Star Game.

Cano has a .302 career batting average with 335 home runs, 1,305 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 17 seasons. He has 2,632 hits, including 571 doubles.

“He’s been around for so long in this game, he’s been an icon here in New York and he’s been a centerpiece in this clubhouse, been a leader,” said Mets infielder J.D. Davis. “So to lose him, it definitely takes a little bit of wind out of our sails.”

Cano is owed $44,703,297 by the Mets from the remainder of the $240 million, 10-year contract he signed with Seattle. He has lost $35,741,935 because of the two drug suspensions.

Eppler said Mets owner Steve Cohen had no qualms about eating the rest of Cano’s salary.

“He said make the baseball decision,” Eppler explained. “Steve’s very committed to winning.”

New York has seven days to trade or release Cano, or send him outright to the minors – an assignment he would have the right to refuse because he has at least three years of major league service.

It’s highly unlikely another club would claim Cano on waivers because it would be responsible for his full salary. But if he’s released by the Mets, a team could sign him for a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum this season and also pay the $710,000 minimum in 2023.

Seattle remains responsible for a final $3.75 million payment to the Mets this Dec. 1, part of $20 million the Mariners agreed to pay New York at the time they sent Cano to the Mets in a polarizing trade made by former New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in December 2018.

Van Wagenen had been Cano’s agent before becoming a GM – and is currently representing him again.

In a deal that also netted closer Edwin Diaz, the Mets shipped five players to Seattle – including prized outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. New York agreed to assume $100 million left on the final five years of Cano’s contract at the time.

Cano ended up playing only 168 games for the Mets, batting .269 with 24 homers, 72 RBIs and a .765 OPS.

In addition to cutting Cano, the Mets optioned right-handed reliever Yoan Lopez to Triple-A Syracuse ahead of Monday night’s series opener against the World Series champion Atlanta Braves.

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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