On Monday, the New York Mets made a smart baseball decision – albeit one that comes with a $38 million price tag. Facing a roster crunch, the first-place Mets designated Robinson Cano for assignment, all but guaranteeing he’s played his last game in Queens and, in the process, agreeing to eat the remainder of his contract.
On paper, this makes sense. Given the alternatives, there’s no universe where Cano should have stayed on the roster as it was trimmed from 28 to 26 players. He’s been worth -0.5 bWAR on the year and was hitting just .195/.233/.268 in 43 plate appearances. New York has a real shot at its first NL East crown since 2015 and after a hefty offseason spending spree, owner Steve Cohen sent an unmistakable message to Mets faithful: we’re here to win.
Either way, Cohen was on the hook for the approximately $37.6 million left on Cano’s contract. But there was no value keeping him on the roster or in the clubhouse. Eat the cash, give the reps that would have otherwise gone to the admitted PED user and eight-time All-Star to guys who are actually performing and move on.
Geez, now why does this particular scenario seem to ring such a bell…? Perhaps because the Chicago Cubs have continued to kick the can down the road with a dead weight contract of their own in Jason Heyward.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The clubhouse presence of these two guys could not be more different. Heyward, one of the last remaining members of the 2016 World Series team, is beloved for what he brings to the ballpark every day. Cano, meanwhile, tarnished his legacy by testing positive and facing suspensions for PEDs not once, but twice, during a three-year span.
The second suspension, which cost him the entire 2021 season, certainly burned any bridges he had left in the Big Apple and a slow start here in 2022 did him absolutely zero favors. I can’t imagine too many people are going to get caught up in the loss of Cano – especially fans with their eye on the team’s first World Series championship since 1986.
Cubs: Numbers tell us all we need to know when it comes to Jason Heyward
As for Heyward, the issue comes on the field, where he’s mustered just a 71 OPS+ since the beginning of the 2021 season. Now, for those of you who point to his 94 OPS+ this year, I hear you, I see you and I raise you the following (while also pointing out he’s barely outperformed his 2021 slash line – and his improved OPS+ is merely the product of the struggles of the rest of the league, not his own improvements).
- Ranks in the bottom 14 percent of the league in xwOBA
- Ranks in the bottom fifth of the league in barrel rate
- Ranks in the bottom five percent of the league in xSLG
- Ranks in the bottom seven percent in whiff rate
- Ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in chase rate
Due $24.5 million both this year and next, there’s simply no reason to run out the clock here. I get the clubhouse loss will be tough and that Heyward means a great deal to the organization and its fans. But you can’t look me in the eye, say 2022 is about evaluating what the Cubs have internally and then turn around and give at-bats to this guy. You just can’t.
Want your voice heard? Join the Cubbies Crib team!
It’ll be hard – but the time has come. Quit wasting playing time and expecting a change that, frankly, just isn’t coming. The Cubs need to follow the example set by the Mets with Cano and face a hard truth: it’s time to cut ties with Jason Heyward.