NEW YORK – In its first major roster decision of the season, Mets management has made it clear that it is going to prioritize what is best for the team over financial obligations.
With this in mind, the Robinson canoe era is likely to end in Flushing.
As the MLB rosters were to be trimmed to 26 players by Monday, Cano was one of the odd men out as the Mets named him for the assignment and selected reliever Yoan Lopez for Class AAA Syracuse.
“Looking at the construction of the roster and how play time was being allocated, it put us in a position where we had to make some difficult decisions,” said Mets general manager Billy Appler. “Eventually it got to the point where it was Robbie because we didn’t have plate presence because we wanted to allot them around and use the whole bench. It was going to be a little erratic.”
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It was a tough call for the Mets, who entered the season between the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to the 39-year-old infielder owed nearly $40.5 million. However, in 12 games, Canoe is batting .195 with an on-base percentage of .233 and one home run, three runs and three RBIs, drawing the ire of fans at Citi Field.
Appler said he had some discussions with owners Steve and Alex Cohen last week and ahead of Sunday’s game. Appler 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,” Appler 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 alternatives. In a way, it makes the job very satisfying to be able to steer everything in their direction that we can.”
The Mets could choose Dominic Smith, JD Davis or Louis Guillorme or nominee Travis Jankowski for the assignment. But each of those players has played an unparalleled productive role in the team’s strong 16-7 start to Monday’s game.
Left-handed Smith, who scored four for four on Sunday, can play at first base or outfield. Davis delivers a power bat and third-base replacement from the right, while Guillaume is one of the few bench players to rest at shortstop.
Jankowski has been a reliable outfield replacement and a strong asset with his pace.
“The proof will be in the pudding, right. It’s tough,” Showalter said. “Robby is a talented hitter and there are others who can be affected by this. We have some guys coming in. I’m very proud of our farming system and the people coming in. It’s a decision that compared to just 26 here. I’m much deeper.
“You always have to say, ‘What if?’ Where’s your front line on the fence in a game that you play seven days a week for seven or eight months.”
The move marks the end of Canoe’s turbulent times with the Mets.
The team acquired Cano and Edwin Diaz in a trade that sent top prospect Jared Kellenick and four other players to the Mariners in December 2018. In his first season with the Mets in 2019, Cano dropped .256/.307/.428 with 13. Home runs, 39 RBIs and 46 runs in 107 games.
“He used to constantly remind us that baseball is a game of failure,” Davis said. “The best in sports when they are inducted into the Hall of Fame, they fail 68 to 70 percent of the times. Sometimes we can lose sight of that.
“He always reminded us how hard it was to hit and that we needed to work hard every day and we didn’t need an easy day, we needed to work harder.”
Appler had to examine his feelings when making the decision. He joined the Yankees front office in 2004 as assistant director of baseball operations, a season before Canoe made his Yankees debut. He was also with the team when they won the World Series in 2009.
But based on how the Mets wanted to divvy up their plate presence and the creation of the roster, Appler knew it was a call that needed to be made.
“I told him that I would do whatever I could to help in some way, shape or form,” Appler said. “I can talk to other clubs and I know their representation can talk to other teams as well to see if there’s a landing spot for them. If that’s not the case, I would welcome them here in a different capacity, if That’s what he wants.”