Robinson Cano suspension does not bode well for Phillies

Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Phillies’ chances to re-sign J.T. Realmuto just got worse

One Philadelphia Phillies division rival — the New York Mets — just got even more offseason spending flexibility.

Under new owner Steve Cohen, the Mets are expected to significantly revamp their roster this offseason; now, they have an extra $24 million to spend. Early Wednesday evening, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Mets second baseman Robinson Cano tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and therefore will be suspended for the entirety of the 2021 season.

The PED suspension — the second of Cano’s 16-season career after being sidelined 80 games in 2018 — will cause Cano to forfeit his $24 million salary in 2021. The Mets already have Jeff McNeil at their disposal to fill in for Cano; meaning, they have even more flexibility to potentially lure perennial All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto away from the Phillies, as widely rumored.

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Realmuto is reportedly seeking a record deal for players at his position this offseason; he and the Phillies seemingly have not made much progress in their negotiations, although team president Andy MacPhail has recently said the organization is optimistic they can reach an agreement. Of course, this statement was before the Mets got an extra $24 million in their pocket.

Even after his suspension, the 38-year-old Cano still will be under contract in 2022 and 2023 with a $24 million salary in each. This past season, the eight-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and two-time Gold Glove Award recipient slashed .316/.352/.544 with nine doubles, 10 home runs, 30 RBI, and 23 runs scored.

Cano slashed just .190/.209/.357 across 43 plate appearances opposite Phillies pitchers in 2020, although at Citizens Bank Park he found success — slashing .320/.346/.600 with one double, a pair of home runs, and seven RBI spanning 26 plate appearances.

The Dominican Republic native was a member of the 2009 World Series championship team with now-Phillies manager Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees. Cano collected just three singles and one RBI, while striking out five times through 23 plate appearances in the Fall Classic against the Phillies.

Usually, a division rival losing a star player is positive news; but, in this case for the Phils, it could ultimately lose them Realmuto through free agency.

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