A week after getting a new billionaire owner, the Mets also find themselves with an additional $20 million-plus to spend thanks to Robinson Cano’s 162-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
Though perhaps the most satisfying way to make up for the loss of Cano would be to sign DJ LeMahieu away from the Yankees, it’s hardly the only option the Mets have.
Cohen also made it clear in the wake of the Cano news that he would not pocket the savings. When asked on Twitter that he spend some of the money on new bullpen carts, Cohen responded, “Spend it on players. Bullpen carts can wait.”
The Mets can find some excellent players in the $20 million range, whether in free agency or via trade.
On the free-agent market, there are other infield choices besides LeMahieu, including Tommy La Stella, who can play second and third and is productive at the plate, but hasn’t had more than 321 plate appearances in a season despite being 31.
Cesar Hernandez, 30, is solid offensively and can play second, third and shortstop.
A pursuit of third baseman Justin Turner might be difficult, since he is still an excellent fit for the Dodgers and Turner was designated for assignment by the Mets in 2013.
New team president Sandy Alderson cautioned against the possibility of a major trade, telling The Post’s Joel Sherman, “We have to be careful how we use players in transactions.”
The Mets already have a problem with depth within the organization, but if they ultimately decide to look into the trade market, at the top of the list could be Francisco Lindor. The Indians intend to trade Lindor, who is a season away from free agency and is due a raise to about $21 million in his final year of arbitration, at some point this offseason. The Mets could give up some of their depth at shortstop — perhaps Andres Gimenez — to get Lindor and could shift Amed Rosario to second and Jeff McNeil to third.
A pair of expensive third basemen might also be available: the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado and the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. The arrival of either star would allow McNeil to play second base, his natural position.
Arenado is owed $199 million over the next six years, provided he doesn’t opt out of his huge contract following next season.
Bryant, like Lindor, is a year away from free agency and is due to get roughly $20 million in arbitration after losing a grievance regarding service time with the Cubs.
If the Mets choose to stay in-house and use the Cano money on a starting pitcher (Trevor Bauer), center fielder (George Springer) or catcher (J.T. Realmuto), Gimenez could play second or third base, as could McNeil. J.D. Davis remains a possibility at third coming off a disappointing season at the plate.
Luis Guillorme is another option at either second or third, but he remains unproven at the major league level.
The Mets could also sign Marcell Ozuna to play left field, keeping McNeil at second and Davis at third.