Could the Mets “Swoop In” & Sign Robinson Cano?

By Danny Abriano

In today’s Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo tossed out the possibility that the Mets could “swoop in” and sign pending free agent Robinson Cano away from the Yankees.  Writes Cafardo:

"One theory was interesting: Would the Mets pull a fast one and suddenly be interested in signing Cano, for which would keep him in New York, his desired long-term location? Team president Randy Levine is already saying that while the Yankees want Cano to return, he’s not going to be an “all-out” signing. Most industry sources believe the Dodgers won’t be interested, but keep your eyes on the Angels and Tigers."

Pretty much every time the Yankees have a pending free agent whose preference is to stay in New York (Jorge Posada is a recent example), the Mets are thrown out there as a possible landing spot.

I wouldn’t write off the chance that the Mets are interested in Cano, but I think the suggestion that they could “pull a fast one” is ludicrous.  Cano’s agents will be seeking a deal in excess of $200 million, and they’ll be looking to start a bidding war – not secure one high offer and jump at it.

Sep 4, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (24) singles to right during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. Yankees won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Cano has been a Yankee for his entire career, so any offer  (from the Mets or any other team) would almost certainly be brought back to the Yankees to match or exceed.

The question then becomes, are the Mets prepared to engage in a bidding war with the Yankees?  Even when the Mets were viewed as being financially stable, they never outbid the Yankees for one of their own free agents or for a free agent from another team who hit the market.

Still, 2014 is seen by most as a turning point for the Mets – a “put up or shut up” season.  The team will be coming off its fifth consecutive losing season, and there will be a substantial amount of money to spend.

With Matt Harvey‘s situation still unclear, the Mets will likely be hesitant to deal from their surplus of pitching prospects in an effort to land a power hitting, impact player.  An alternative could be holding on to those prospects while allocating large dollars to Cano and a free agent outfielder.

I would be mildly stunned if the Mets outbid the Yankees for Robinson Cano, but unless someone has gone to the future, nothing can be written off as impossible.

Cano will turn 31 this October, so any team that signs him will be taking a risk that his best years are behind him.  He’ll likely be seeking a deal of at least seven years in length, which would take him through his age 37 season.  Cano’s OBP has risen the last three seasons, and his strikeout percentage has dropped each year, from 14.1 to 13.8 to 12.7.  Additionally, his line drive percentage this season is the second highest it’s ever been (25.4 %).  So, there aren’t any red flags that suggest Cano’s production is about to fall off a cliff.

If the Mets signed Robinson Cano, it would give them the impact bat they need without the team having to trade some of their best prospects in the process.  It would also allow them to trade Daniel Murphy in an effort to fill holes elsewhere on the roster, or to further bolster the farm system.

It would also immediately make the Mets relevant again.  Not only would they be signing one of the best players in baseball, they’d be signing him away from their crosstown rivals.  The Mets signing Cano would be incredibly exciting, but engaging in a bidding war with the Yankees hasn’t been the Mets’ modus operandi.

Theoretically, the Mets should be all over Cano.  He’s a free agent, is one of the best hitters in baseball, and the Mets have a large sum of money to spend.  It remains to be seen, though, whether the Mets have the stomach to even attempt it.

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