The Robinson Cano comparisons to Roberto Alomar almost immediately. Two second basemen with amazing pedigrees traded to the New York Mets past the primes of their careers.
At the time of the Cano deal, Alomar was already in the Hall of Fame. Cano looked like he might get there one day if only voters could look past his 2018 PED suspension. Of course, he’d fail another test and miss all of 2021. His time with the Mets has now come to an end which opens up a whole new debate: which second baseman was a bigger disaster?
Which Mets second baseman was the bigger disaster: Roberto Alomar vs. Robinson Cano
We’ll have to grade these on a few different levels. Performance, contract, how well the team performed, the trades that brought them to Queens, etc. will all be included.
Where should we begin?
The Robinson Cano trade has potential to become the worse deal but was it?
The Alomar trade, as bad as it was, didn’t actually take away notable prospects from the team. At the time, there was some thought some of those guys could have become something special. Nobody ever did develop.
The Cano trade, on the other hand, has yet to complete itself. Because the Mets also acquired Edwin Diaz in the deal, things get more complicated than just what Justin Dunn or Jarred Kelenic become. We’ll have to call this one a draw for one.
The Robinson Cano contract was definitely worse even with inflation
Baseball dollars and cents have gone way up and continually do just about every year. Alomar’s deal, which topped out at $8 million for the 2003 campaign, was a lot yet not as crippling as the Cano contract has been. In 2003, Alex Rodriguez already had a $22 million deal.
With no luxury tax back then either, there was nothing more than a franchise budget holding the Mets back. Even with Steve Cohen’s endless dollars, there is a limit to how much we should expect him to spend.
The Mets were never good with Roberto Alomar
Alomar and Cano joined the team with different purposes. Cano felt more like a role-player even from the start whereas Alomar joined the team coming off of a year where he batted .336, hit 20 home runs, and drove in 100. He was supposed to be really good for at least another season or two. Nobody felt Cano would come close.
Maybe this point should be more about disappointment than anything else. Cano, in a way, lived up to expectations. There really weren’t many from the fans. Alomar, on the other hand, was still playing really well at the time when he first joined the Mets. Unfortunately, he left his last good season in Cleveland.
Roberto Alomar and Robinson Cano had some very similar numbers
Alomar played 222 games for the Mets while hitting .265/.333/.370. He hit only 13 home runs and drove in 75. Cano batted .269/.315/.450 with 24 home runs and 72 RBI in 168 games. Alomar was worth 0.4 WAR. Cano was worth 1.2.
Cano seemed to actually outplay Alomar by quite a bit. However, the tainted 2020 season due to PED use definitely stands out. Remove that success and it’s a far more even matchup.
The Mets weren’t technically stopped by the presence of Cano from doing other things—especially not under Steve Cohen’s rule. The tenure did last longer, though. For as memorably miserable as Alomar’s time with the team was, he didn’t even make it through his second season with the club!
To categorize them best, let’s leave it at this: Roberto Alomar was the far bigger disappointment and the decision to trade for Robinson Cano and everything that came with it was worse. As players, Cano was the better* one between the two. Asterisk required.