If the latest rumors and speculation are to be believed, Robinson Cano may not be with the Mariners much longer. Behind ever-active general manager Jerry Dipoto -- who already this offseason has traded lefty James Paxton to the Yankees and backstop Mike Zunino to the Rays -- the club's next mission appears to be unloading the longtime star second baseman.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported in a story for The Athletic on Monday that Dipoto is "actively trying" (subscription required) to swap Cano, and there have been conversations with both the Mets and Yankees. Of course, Cano -- an eight-time All-Star with 2,470 hits and 311 homers in his 14 seasons in Major League Baseball -- spent the first nine years of his career in the Bronx.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Tuesday that moving Cano more or less seems like a case of when, not if -- as well as a matter of how much money the Mariners include to help get a trade finished and potentially add more impactful young talent in return.
As trade rumors continue to swirl, two sources tell me they fully expect the Mariners to find a way to move Robinson Cano this offseason. Will be interesting to see 1) how much money the Mariners eat and 2) what kind of talent they get back.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) 27 de noviembre de 2018
That buzz was bumped to another level Tuesday when Andy Martino of SNY provided the scoop on some specifics of what a trade with the Mets might look like. Those details involve a blockbuster that would send Cano to Flushing with Seattle paying about $10 million annually of the $120 million Cano is owed through 2023 -- knocking his average salary from $24 million per year to roughly $14 million per.
MLB Network analyst and former Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd is a fan of the possibility of the Mets landing Cano, who he says is "still a well above-average offensive player."
But that's not all. The Mets also would be looking to pawn off Jay Bruce (owed $13 million in each of '19 and '20) on the Mariners while getting either closer Edwin Diaz or outfielder Mitch Haniger -- Seattle's two most valuable trade chips -- as an additional piece, according to Martino. Both Diaz (24 years old) and Haniger (27) are in their primes, coming off All-Star campaigns and under club control through '22, making them extremely valuable assets.
Martino does acknowledge: "If this all seems too good to be true for the Mets, it might be. It all depends on how desperate Seattle is to move Cano."
And that's just it. Unloading Cano might be a necessity to get the Mariners' roster and payroll obligations in better shape for the future, but it's also a massive challenge, even for a creative, trade-happy exec like Dipoto.
Why? Although Cano still is productive (.303/.374/.471 with 10 homers in 80 games in 2018), he's clearly on the downside of his career at age 36. On top of that, there's the contract, which includes full no-trade protection, meaning he has to give his approval. And let's not forget: Cano was suspended 80 games for violating MLB's Joint Drug Agreement last year.
All of those factors limit the possible landing spots and give teams clear leverage over the Mariners, who do seem rather desperate to remove Cano as part of the roster "reimagining" that Dipoto talked about earlier this offseason. If that's true, then suitors surely will be doing all they can to take advantage of the situation, just like the Mets appear to be.
Making this particular blockbuster proposal even more complicated is the fact that new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen was Cano's agent at the time he scored his 10-year, $240 million contract from Seattle under former GM Jack Zduriencik in December 2013 -- tied for the fifth largest total salary in baseball history entering this offseason.
And yes, the one Dipoto now is trying -- or at least hoping -- to unload.