NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s official. Robinson Cano is back playing baseball in the Big Apple.
The former star for the Yankees was introduced Tuesday at Citi Field as the new second baseman of the Mets, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
The seven-player trade with the Seattle Mariners that brought over Cano and star closer Edwin Diaz was the first deal by agent-turned-general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who was hired by New York not long after the season ended.
“As I stood in front of you a few weeks ago, I stated that this organization intended to be relentless and fearless in our pursuit of greatness,” Van Wagenen said. “This trade should be a signal to our players and to our fans that words alone will not define this franchise. Rather, it will be hard work, collaboration and unwavering commitment.
“We have a winning mindset and, collectively, we believe that everything is possible and nothing is impossible,” Van Wagenen added. “And it is that conviction that led us to this moment.”
Mets fans now have some new toys for the holidays. Cano and Diaz put on their new jerseys and then, with big smiles on their faces, spoke to reporters.
“I’m more than happy — I would say blessed — to be able to wear this uniform,” said Cano, an eight-time All-Star who excelled for nine seasons with the Yankees before signing a 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract with the Mariners prior to the 2014 season. “I’m happy to be back in New York. I just can’t wait for the season to start and be able to go out there and perform and help the team to win a World Series.”
Cano served an 80-game suspension last season for using performance-enhancing drugs, but he hit .303 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs over the season’s final 80 games. The sweet-swinging and sharp-fielding infielder is a career .304 hitter with 311 homers and 1,233 RBIs.
“Robinson Cano is one of the best second basemen in the history of the game. He immediately will impact the middle of our lineup and increase the run production in a meaningful and significant way,” Van Wagenen said.
Cano was the big name in the deal, but the jewel might by Diaz, a 24-year-old closer who is coming off a sensational season. Armed with a 100-mph fastball, the right-hander recorded a 1.96 ERA and 57 saves and will certainly go a long way toward fixing a Mets bullpen that was among the worst in the majors in 2018.
“Edwin is the best closer in the game today. He will be the anchor of our bullpen and will electrify our fan base,” Van Wagenen said. “Most importantly, everyone should know that these two players are here to help us accomplish our goals of winning now and in the future.”
What’s more, Diaz is under team control for the next four seasons, so while the Mets pay Cano the remaining $120 million on his contract, they’ll be shelling out just a fraction of that amount to a relief pitcher that is expected to be a real difference-maker for a long time.
“I came here to win. To the Mets fans, we came here to win and try to reach the World Series and get the ring,” Diaz said.
The Mets gave up veteran outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak and prospects Jarred Kellenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista in the trade. Van Wagenen said he will actively be looking to further improve the club, which has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
“I think it goes without saying, but I’ll state it very clearly. We did not make this move to have it be our last move,” Van Wagenen said.
The Mets reportedly have shown interest in the biggest free agent available, outfielder Bryce Harper, and, in addition to finding a catcher, hope to put more reliable arms in the bullpen to help Diaz. They have been mentioned as potential suitors for veteran relievers Andrew Miller and David Robertson, who have been getting a lot of attention on the open market.