It took, tops, 30 seconds for the gravity of the news item — Robinson Cano, suspended for a year as a PED repeat offender — to sink in for that faction of New York baseball fans who are partial to the Mets. Steroids are still a serious issue in baseball. Steroids are bad. Players who use steroids, and, in this case, reuse them after getting caught, are to be …
“HOLY *#[email protected]&##!!!! CANO WAS SUSPENDED FOR A YEAR!!!!!!”
Um, yeah. It probably didn’t even take 30 seconds.
With one announcement, the good times continued to roll for Mets fans, very few of whom were ever even remotely sold on Cano. He was an aging star who was allergic to running out ground balls even in his youth. His arrival cost the Mets 12 to 15 years of Jarred Kelenic, among the most exciting prospects in the game. And, by the by, he was a PED cheat with an 80-game ban already on his dossier.
And he cost $24 million per year. Through 2023.
In the old reality for Mets fans, that was especially onerous (even if Seattle kicked in $3.5 million per to defray the cost). It was one more set of financial handcuffs. Even when Cano had a comeback year of sorts this year — an average of .316 and an OPS+ of 144 — Mets fans had little use for him. And that was before we learned Cano may well have found that fountain of youth in a vial of Stanozolol.
And now, for a year, he vanishes.
And even if the Mets were to do nothing else, removing Cano makes the infield look a whole lot less cluttered. Most fans wanted Jeff McNeil to play second base every day anyway — that would be a given. J.D. Davis has third. Amed Rosario — or Andres Giminez — has short. Cano was always going to muck that picture up. No more.
But, of course, these are the Steve Cohen Mets now.
So there is a better chance that Brodie Van Wagenen will be welcomed back to be Grand Marshall of the return of Old Timer’s Day next year than there is of the Mets doing “nothing else.” And the possibilities are now endless.
Consider that the richest man in baseball just found an extra $20 million hiding in the cushions of his sofa. That might actually happen to Cohen a lot, actually. But this particular influx allows him even more flexibility to seize the moment for the Mets.
In the immediate, that almost certainly has to mean engaging in the first offseason free-agent staredown pairing of the Mets and the Yankees, which until now was a figment of the imagination in every year since free agency became a reality in 1976. Suddenly it isn’t just fun theater for Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner to make like Hamilton and Burr on the shores at Weehawken, subbing wallets for pistols.
The Mets have a need now, and they certainly have the means, and they could hop into the deep end of the pool without having to scrap whoever their other targets are — George Springer, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, Marcell Ozuna. Cohen swore he wasn’t in competition with the Yankees last week, but the hard truth here is: importing DJ LeMahieu not only would make the Mets better, but also would make the Yankees weaker. And even if LeMahieu chooses to stay put, it’ll cost the Yankees far more than they wanted to spend, and that would break few hearts in Flushing.
There are other options. Francisco Lindor is certainly still in play. And it would sure seem like a good time to call the Rockies and see exactly what it might take to bring Nolan Arenado here. Hey, it never hurts to ask. These are all the sugar-plum visions that have filled the heads of Mets fans since just past 3 o’clock Wednesday.
(And the kind of roll the Mets are on, maybe by week’s end MLB will outlaw hanging sliders and the Edwin Diaz portion of the Kelenic trade can work out for them, too.)
Now, at the risk of being a buzzkill: After Cano serves his time, he will still have two years and $48 million due him, and a month ago that might immediately offset some of the joie de vivre in Mets New York because that absolutely would have been a factor. But that was then. We live in a new eat-drink-and-be-merry Mets world now, one that already was chockablock with possibility.
And somehow just became more so. Amazin’.
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