Robinson Canó's time with the New York Mets is over. , the day teams must trim their rosters from 28 players to 26. New York opted to keep JD Davis, Luis Guillorme, and Dominic Smith rather than send one to Triple-A and hang onto Canó.
"Robbie absolutely still wants to play. Given the right situation, he can still make a meaningful contribution for a team," Canó's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, told the New York Post's Joel Sherman. "Robbie is a true professional with a great deal of respect for the organization. He understands they had a tough decision to make. He wishes them well going forward."
Now 39, Canó went 8 for 41 (.195) with one home run in 12 games this season prior to being dropped from the roster. He served a 162-game performance-enhancing drug suspension last season and the Mets gave Canó some time to show whether there was still anything left in the tank this year. The answer appears to be no, so they moved on.
The Mets owe Canó $20.25 million in salary this season and next (the Seattle Mariners also owe him $3.75 million each year) and that money is guaranteed. Canó still gets paid even after the Mets release him. And he will be released. No team will claim Canó on waivers because a waiver claim would mean assuming his entire contract.
Once he is released, any team can sign Canó for the prorated portion of the $700,000 league minimum. It may seem unlikely Canó will hook on elsewhere, but the same was said about Albert Pujols after the Los Angeles Angels released him last season, and he landed with the very deep and very good Los Angeles Dodgers.
Which teams could have interest in Canó at the league minimum once he hits the open market in a few days? Here are 11 possibilities in alphabetical order.
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The Jackie Bradley Jr. plan in right field isn't working (Boston's right fielders are hitting .156/.224/.221 this year) and the Red Sox could put JD Martinez in the outfield full-time, clearing DH at-bats for Canó. That's a convoluted plan for potentially no return, though the Red Sox rank 24th in baseball with 3.52 runs scored per game. Something has to give, offensively.
Already six different players have started a game at DH for the ChiSox and the revolving door only figures to continue in the wake of Eloy Jiménez's injury. Canó could fill that spot full-time, provide balance to a very right-handed lineup, and maybe provide a little spark to a White Sox team that is 2-11 in its last 13 games and ranks 25th in baseball with 3.29 runs scored per game.
Franmil Reyes, Cleveland's regular DH, is in the middle of a brutal slump: 1 for 28 (.036) with 18 strikeouts. He hit .254/.324/.522 with 30 home runs a year ago, however, and I don't get the sense the Guardians are ready to give the reins to someone else. Canó does fit into their budget (i.e. one of the smallest in the league), however.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers signed Pujols last year. Would they sign Canó this year? Their bench isn't as strong as in previous seasons and Max Muncy hasn't been himself so far in 2022. If Canó wants to chase a ring, this is the place to go, but it takes two to tango and I'm not sure Los Angeles will have interest.
The Twins have used 10 -- 10! -- different players at DH through 22 games. Only once all year has the same player started back-to-back games at DH. Minnesota uses a full-blown DH rotation. They could sign Canó and add him to the mix rather than give him the job full-time, though I imagine Canó will look to join a team that is willing to give him a lot of playing time.
What about a return to the Bronx? It seems very unlikely with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson sharing DH duty, and Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu sharing second base. Then again, Torres hasn't been particularly impactful the last few years, and Canó might jump at the chance to suit up for a team that a) has baseball's best record, b) plays in a ballpark that is friendly to lefty hitters, and c) he's very familiar with. Never say never!
The A's are beginning to fade after a strong start to the season. They've gotten nothing from the DH position (.136/.220/.259), and if they were interested in fielding a respectable team, maybe they'd take a leagu-minimum roll of the dice on Canó. It seems the last thing ownership cares about right now is respectability though, so let's call this unlikely.
Luke Voit's injury has created an opening at DH, which the Padres have filled with a revolving door for the time being. GM AJ Preller is nothing if not aggressive, and San Diego's strong start has them sitting in a virtual tie for first place in the NL West. This is not the time to rest on your laurels. If Preller believes Canó has something left in the tank, he could act quick.
10. Tampa Bay Rays
A sneaky-good fit. The Rays rotate players through the DH spot and they've gotten solid production from the position this year (.284/.356/.407). Canó would give them yet another option and he wouldn't cost much money. With Brandon Lowe starting the season slowly, Tampa is short on difference-making lefty bats. As a platoon DH, Canó could fit with the Rays.
Possibly the best fit. Zack Collins has cooled following his quick start and the Blue Jays are very short on lefty bats. It's Collins, Raimel Tapia, Bradley Zimmer, and Cavan Biggio when he comes off the COVID list. That's it for lefties. Toronto has rotated guys through the DH spot for much of the season and Canó would fit as a bottom-of-the-lineup complementary piece.
I think this is the most likely outcome. Pujols got a job last year because he still had a valuable skill (crushing lefties). I'm not sure Canó has that now. Also, even though Canó has been a popular teammate throughout his career, not many clubs are willing to deal with the headache of a two-time PED-suspended guy. Not when he's nearing the end of the line. I'd put my money on retirement (or a forced retirement, more accurately).