For this two-borough baseball issue, let’s start with the easy one:
The Mets would be out of their minds to invest in Robinson Cano.
A left-handed bat for a roster that already leans more to the left than Shepard Smith? A 36-year-old with five years left on his contract for a team that doesn’t use the designated hitter? A guy who never really wanted to leave the Yankees for the other side of the RFK Bridge?
That’s a hard no, even if young All-Star closer Edwin Diaz accompanies Cano from Seattle.
The Yankees, on the other hand, should bring Cano back home under the right parameters. Those parameters start with, reaching back to a Mets reference, Daniel Murphy.
If the Yankees can make it as financially sensible to get Cano and Diaz from the Mariners as signing the free-agent Murphy and shopping the free-agent reliever aisle, then they should go for it. If they can’t, then they should spend on Murphy and whichever bullpen piece (or pieces) they desire.
Murphy and Cano both hit lefty, and the Yankees’ lineup badly needs some left-handed pop for balance, especially while Didi Gregorius rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery. They both play second base as their primary position, a fit that would allow the Yankees to slide regular second baseman Gleyber Torres over to shortstop until Gregorius returns. Murphy can play first base and Cano tried it last season. Both hit well enough to DH. Both possess extensive New York experience.
Modal TriggerChicago Cubs’ Daniel Murphy
In a vacuum, Cano vs. Murphy represents a close call. Cano is about two and a half years older than Murphy, yet he’s the superior defender at the keystone. Murphy has suffered the more traumatic injury, the October 2017 microfracture surgery on his right knee, yet Cano got busted for illegal performance-enhancing drugs last year, although he performed well upon his return from his 80-game suspension.
As The Post’s Joel Sherman points out, Cano likely would get something like a two-year, $25-million contract if he entered the open market right now. And in my free-agent predictions earlier this month, I predicted that Murphy would sign (with the Twins) for two years and $26 million.
We’re not in a vacuum, though. While Cano has largely lived up to the 10-year, $240 million pact the Mariners gave him after 2013, the five years and $120 left are daunting given his age. So given the similarities between Cano and Murphy, the latter should serve as a guideline for the former.
Let’s assume that Jacoby Ellsbury would waive his no-trade clause to join the Mariners, closer to his Arizona home and closest to his Oregon upbringing. If the Mariners took on the $47.3 million owed to Ellsbury through 2020, that would lower the Yankees’ Cano tab to $72.7 million.
Modal TriggerRelief pitcher Edwin Diaz of the Seattle Mariners
Edwin DiazGetty Images
Now let’s factor in Diaz, whom, as Sherman reported, the Mariners will consider attaching to Cano in order to make Cano more attractive. Looking at the pre-free agency earnings of closers who went year to year with their contracts, such as recent Yankee Zach Britton and the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen, Diaz would be in line to make between $25 million and $30 million over the next four years. A free agent of his caliber, such as the currently available Craig Kimbrel, easily would double that. So let’s call that a potential estimated savings of $30 million, which would drop the theoretical Cano tab to $42.7 million while keeping it at an actual $72.7 million.