Mets cut Robinson Canó with almost $45 million left on deal

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NEW YORK — Robinson Cano was cut by the New York Mets with nearly $45 million remaining on his contract, ending an ill-fated marriage and perhaps signaling the end of his decorated major league career.

The slumping Cano was designated for assignment in a move announced about an hour before teams were required to trim their active rosters from 28 players to 26. Relegated to a part-time role this season, Cano was a casualty of the crunch as the first-place Mets chose to keep younger, more versatile bench players instead.

The 39-year-old Cano, who sat out last season while serving his second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, is batting .195 (8 for 41) with one home run, three RBIs and a paltry .501 OPS in 43 plate appearances. He homered to the opposite field with a vintage swing in the home opener April 15 against Arizona, but has appeared in just 12 of 23 games, starting six at second base and five at designated hitter.

Despite his early struggles in a reduced role, the decision to jettison Cano was still a complicated one for the Mets – and not only because of all the money he’s owed.

He remained a popular veteran in the clubhouse happy to share his baseball wisdom. Cano and several teammates have said they were confident he would eventually produce at the plate if given the opportunity. And with the writing perhaps on the wall, star shortstop Francisco Lindor said Sunday he wouldn’t be happy if Cano was cut.

Mets manager Buck Showalter acknowledged it’s challenging for a veteran player such as Cano, accustomed to being in the lineup every day, to adjust and flourish as a part-time player.

“I don’t care how experienced you are, it’s tough. And I’m very empathetic to that,” Showalter said Sunday. “It’s difficult for him. I’m aware of that. It’s difficult for a lot of guys. It’s difficult for J.D. Davis, Dom Smith, (Luis) Guillorme.”

An eight-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Cano spent his first nine big league seasons across town with the New York Yankees and helped them win the 2009 World Series. He has won five Silver Slugger awards and was MVP of the 2017 All-Star Game.

Cano has a .302 career batting average with 335 home runs, 1,305 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 17 seasons. He has 2,632 hits, including 571 doubles.

Cano is owed $44,703,297 by the Mets from the remainder of the $240 million, 10-year contract he signed with Seattle. He has lost $36,258,065 because of the two drug suspensions.

New York has seven days to trade or release Cano, or send him outright to the minors – an assignment he would have the right to refuse because he has at least three years of major league service.

It’s highly unlikely another club would claim Cano on waivers because it would be responsible for his full salary. But if he’s released by the Mets, a team could sign him for a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum this season and also pay the $710,000 minimum in 2023.

Seattle remains responsible for a final $3.75 million payment to the Mets this Dec. 1, part of $20 million the Mariners agreed to pay New York at the time they sent Cano to the Mets in a polarizing trade made by former New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in December 2018.

In a deal that also netted closer Edwin Diaz, the Mets shipped five players to Seattle – including prized outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. New York agreed to assume $100 million left on the final five years of Cano’s contract at the time.

Cano ended up playing only 168 games for the Mets, batting .269 with 24 homers, 72 RBIs and a .765 OPS.

In addition to cutting Cano, the Mets optioned right-handed reliever Yoan Lopez to Triple-A Syracuse ahead of Monday night’s series opener against the World Series champion Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.

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