NEW YORK – In their first major roster decision of the season, Mets management has made it clear that it is going to prioritize what’s best for the team over financial obligations.
With that in mind, the Robinson Cano era in Flushing has likely drawn to a close.
As MLB rosters had to be trimmed to 26 players by Monday, Cano was one of the odd men out as the Mets designated him for assignment and optioned reliever Yoan Lopez to Class AAA Syracuse.
“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 as we want to allocate them around and utilize the whole bench. It was just going to be a little irregular.”
MLB 2022: How bad is it for MLB hitters?
POWER RANKINGS: Red-hot Yankees on the rise
It was a difficult call for the Mets, who entered the season owing the 39-year-old infielder around $ 40.5 million between the 2021 and 2022 seasons. However, in 12 games, Cano is batting .195 with an on-base percentage of .233 and one home run, three runs and three RBI, drawing the ire of fans at Citi Field.
Eppler said he had a few discussions with owners Steve and Alex Cohen last week and before Sunday’s game. Eppler and Buck Showalter informed the eight-time All-Star of the decision after Sunday night’s win against the Phillies.
“Steve is very committed to winning,” Eppler said. “When I talk to Steve or when I talk to Alex, it’s always, ‘Do what’s best for the team and the roster.’ I present them facts and options. In a way, it makes the job pretty fulfilling to be able to run everything in their direction that we can do. “
The Mets could have optioned Dominic Smith, JD Davis or Luis Guillorme or designated Travis Jankowski for assignment. But each of those players has filled a unique productive role in the team’s strong 16-7 start entering Monday’s game.
The left-handed hitting Smith, who went 4-for-4 on Sunday, can play either first base or the outfield. Davis provides a power bat from the right side and a third-base replacement, while Guillorme is one of the few bench players comfortable at shortstop.
Jankowski has been a reliable outfield replacement and strong asset with his speed.
“The proof will be in the pudding, right. It’s tough,” Showalter said. “Robbie is a talented hitter and so are some of the other guys that it might’ve affected. We’ve got some guys coming. I’m very proud of our farm system and the people that are coming. This is a decision that goes a lot deeper than just the 26 here.
“You always have to say, ‘What if?’ Where’s your next line on the fence in a sport that you play seven days a week for seven or eight months. “
The move signals the end of Cano’s turbulent time with the Mets.
The team acquired Cano and closer Edwin Diaz in a trade that sent top prospect Jarred Kelenic and four other players to the Mariners in December 2018. In his first season with the Mets in 2019, Cano slashed .256 / .307 / .428 with 13 home runs, 39 RBI and 46 runs in 107 games.
“He would constantly remind us that baseball is a game of failure,” Davis said. “The best in the game when they get inducted into the Hall of Fame, they fail 68 to 70 percent of the time. Sometimes we can lose sight of that.
“He always reminded us how hitting was extremely hard and we needed to work hard every single day and we didn’t need to have an easy day, we needed to keep working hard.”
Eppler had to check his emotions when making the decision. He joined the Yankees front office as assistant director of baseball operations in 2004, one season before Cano would make his Yankees debut. They were also with the team when they won the World Series in 2009.
But based on how the Mets wanted to split their plate appearances and build the roster, Eppler knew it was a call that needed to be made.
“I told him I’ll do whatever I can to help that in any way, shape or form that we can,” Eppler said. “I can talk to other clubs and I know his representation can talk to other teams too to see if there’s a landing spot for him. If there’s not, then I will welcome him back here in a different capacity too if he wants that.”
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Mets designate Robinson Cano for assignment in roster news