Robinson Cano Trade Will Cost Mets More Than Zack Wheeler
According to various reports, unless Zack Wheeler accepts the qualifying offer, and he’d be crazy to accept it, he is going to be a part of another organization in 2020. This would be one thing if the Mets believed they should pursue Gerrit Cole or another big name free agent, but as we know, Wheeler is as good as gone with no real replacement coming to the Mets.
Using Nathan Eovaldi as a comp, Wheeler would be owed a deal with an AAV of at least $17 million. Given his strong finish to the season, it’s arguable Wheeler could meet or possibly surpass $20 million. Of course, that depends on the length of the deal.
Now, from some corners you’ll hear the Mets can’t afford to keep Wheeler for that contract. There will be excuses offered with respect to the luxury tax threshold, can’t keep all of your players, and/or the Mets can’t afford him. If any of these are true, this is the latest example of just how much Brodie Van Wagenen has screwed things up in just one year.
The $20+ million deal per year for four years or more which could’ve been given to Wheeler is already on the books. That money is being given to Robinson Cano.
Cano turns 37 this month, and he is coming off an injury plagued year where he had just a 0.3 WAR. He was below average at the plate with a 93 wRC+, and he was bad in the field with a -6 DRS.
This leaves the Mets path to contention vested in a 37 year old getting healthier, more durable, and turning back the clock. Historically, this is a very poor bet. It’s certainly not a bet you’d like to have $80 million riding on over the next four years.
This is money which could’ve been invested in Wheeler. This wouldn’t allowed the Mets to keep this vaunted starting staff together for at least one more year. Possibly two. Instead, the Mets are going to let Wheeler walk because the money which could’ve been given to him is already tied up with Cano.
The obvious retort is if the Mets didn’t have Cano, they’d likely have Jay Bruce still. Putting aside the Mariners were able to trade him, he is only due $14 million in 2020. As such, he didn’t tie up the payroll for the ensuing three years thereby giving the Mets room to negotiate with Wheeler.
So, again, the money which could’ve been spent to keep Wheeler has already been spent.
Initially, when the trade was made to obtain Cano and Edwin Diaz, the focus was on losing Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic. Rightfully so. However, the damage to the team goes beyond that. It’s not just losing two prospects, it’s losing Major League players.
It’s not just this year either with Wheeler likely to depart. It also will hinder the ability to keep players like Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Brandon Nimmo. It’s possible there are more casualties when you consider arbitration raises and the like.
So overall, the Cano Trade didn’t cost just two top prospects. In the long run, it’s going to cost the Mets high-end Major League talent; talent necessary to fulfill the Mets win-now objectives.
Put another way, that trade is only going to get worse.