Wearing red Santa’s helper hats, Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz got right to work for the New York Mets — as elves, handing out presents to school kids during the team’s holiday party at Citi Field.
A day after the club added the star second baseman and ace closer, new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered a gift to all Mets fans, too.
“We did not make this move to have it be our last move,” Van Wagenen vowed Tuesday.
Chimed in Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon: “I think there’s a lot more that’s going to happen.”
Still too early to tell if that means something major, such as a swing at free agent slugger Bryce Harper. That was the buzz on radio talk station WFAN, where the seven-player trade with Seattle drew strong, mixed reaction from Mets rooters.
Van Wagenen, however, seemed to throw shade on the notion that pitcher Noah Syndergaard was going anywhere. Despite recent speculation the Mets might trade him, the GM said it would take “very special circumstances for us to even consider” swapping Syndergaard.
Sporting the No. 24 he wore when he helped the Yankees take the 2009 World Series, Cano said he was pumped to play for the Mets.
“Happy to be back in New York,” he said, later adding, “win another ring, especially on this side of the city.”
The 36-year-old Cano is halfway through a $240 million, 10-year contract — that deal was negotiated by Van Wagenen in his prior job as a player agent. The Mets are responsible for $100 million of the $120 million remaining.
An eight-time All-Star, Cano served an 80-game suspension this season after a positive test for Furosemide, a diuretic that can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs. Cano said the substance was given to him by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic.
Wilpon accepted Cano’s “good explanation” for the episode, saying, “I don’t think he’s a drug cheat.”
As Cano’s former agent, Van Wagenen was privy to the details of the suspension, but didn’t share them. He pointed out that the penalty wasn’t for PEDs, and said Cano is “motivated more than most people realize.”
Cano hit .303 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 80 games. He waived his no-trade clause to return to New York and is expected to stay at second base.
Diaz led the majors with 57 saves last season. The 24-year-old will fill the void left when the Mets traded closer Jeurys Familia to Oakland last July.
Diaz was diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow as a teen, but said the condition has never caused him any trouble.
“I think for me, nothing,” he said.
The Mariners initially told the Mets that Diaz wasn’t available. But when the Mets heard he might be included in a trade to NL East rival Philadelphia, they accelerated their efforts.
The Mets sent outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak and three prospects — including former first-round draft picks Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic — to Seattle for Cano, Diaz and $20 million.
“They gave everything for us,” Diaz said.
Coming off a pair of sub-.500 seasons, the Mets realize they need to do a lot more. The Mets figure to have cash on hand, with insurance money coming for now-finished third baseman David Wright and big-hitting Yoenis Cespedes, whose return from double-heel surgery is uncertain.
Van Wagenen said this trade was not the “end-all move” and the winter meetings starting this weekend in Las Vegas could prove him right.
Brandon Nimmo said he already likes the direction the Mets are headed. The outfielder played Santa Claus at the party for 126 grade-school children from Queens, wearing batting gloves as he handed out presents.
“We want to win now,” Nimmo said. “That’s the path we’re taking.”
Source: The Associated Press