Other clubs have been calling the Mets about the potential availability of outfielder Mark Canha, per ESPN’s Buster Olney, who lists the Mariners as a “possible match” given Seattle’s prior interest in the 34-year-old as a free agent (Twitter link).
Canha is playing out the second season of a two-year, $26.5MM deal signed in free agency during the 2021-22 offseason. His contract contains an $11.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout — an effective $9.5MM net decision for the Mets or for any team that acquires him.
While Canha isn’t hitting for the same power he has in the past, he’s drawing walks at a robust 10.5% clip and enjoying a generally solid season at the plate. None of his rate stats stand out, but his .244/.346/.396 batting line checks in about 11% better than average, by measure of wRC+. He’s striking out at a lower-than-average 17.3% clip and has also swiped seven bases in seven tries. He rarely chases pitches off the plate and makes contact on those offerings at a well above-average rate when he does (69%, compared to the league-average 62.5%).
In the outfield, Canha is best deployed in a corner, although he’s seen plenty of work in center throughout his career and still possesses above-average speed (65th percentile, per Statcast). Statcast also rates his jumps on fly-balls near the bottom of the league in 2023, however, and his arm strength also checks in a bit below average. Canha also has ample experience at first base, and the Mets have played him there for 87 innings this season.
Canha is earning a $10.5MM salary this season, with about $4.12MM of that sum yet to be paid out as of this writing. Add in the $2MM buyout, and he’s still owed a total of $6.12MM. However, Mets owner Steve Cohen is the game’s most willing spender and could potentially enhance the return on a trade by paying that sum down for a trade partner. The Mets did as much when trading Eduardo Escobar to the Angels and were also willing to eat the remainder of Chris Flexen’s contract in order to effectively purchase righty Trevor Gott from the Mariners.
Speaking of Seattle, the M’s make a sensible enough landing spot — if they choose to add at the deadline. Their offseason addition of veteran outfielder AJ Pollock was intended to add a platoon option in the outfield who could do damage against left-handed pitching, but it’s been an abject flop to date. Pollock is hitting .169/.222/.315 and has actually hit lefties worse than righties.
Canha isn’t a pure lefty masher — his career platoon splits are closer to even — but he’s been solid against southpaws in 2023. Granted, his .228 average when holding the platoon advantage is sub-par, but he’s getting on base at a strong .347 clip and slugging .418 when facing a lefty. That’s been par for the course in his career; he’s a lifetime .236/.327/.425 hitter against southpaws.
The Mets have arguably been the most disappointing team in MLB this season, sitting five games under .500 — 16.5 back in the division and seven back in the Wild Card race — despite an MLB-record payroll in excess of $300MM. Cohen said late last month, when his Mets were 36-43, that he “wouldn’t add” to the roster if his team was in a similar position at the deadline, calling it “silly” to do so.
New York is 9-7 in that time, including three straight wins, but they’ll likely need to rattle off a few more wins before even giving legitimate consideration to adding pieces at the deadline. In the meantime, short-term assets like Canha, Tommy Pham, David Robertson and Adam Ottavino will likely continue to be the focus of potential trade inquiries.