The 36-year-old Cano drove in all five runs and went 4-for-4. Vargas pitched one-hit ball for six shutout innings, possibly enhancing his trade value.
Cano began the day batting just .243 with six homers in his first season with the Mets. Yet before the game, manager Mickey Callaway expressed confidence that Cano would produce, putting him in the category of “Hall of Fame hitters.”
Cano homered three times in a game for the first time in his career. It was just the third three-homer game ever by a Mets player at home — Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both did it in July 2015.
After singling in the first, Cano made it 1-0 in the fourth with his first home run at Citi Field since early April.
Of Cano’s nine homers this year, five have come since the All-Star break. This was his 23rd career multihomer game and first since 2017 with Seattle.
Yoenis Cespedes was the previous Mets player to hit three homers, doing it in 2017. The feat has been accomplished by 13th different Mets players, with Cespedes doing it twice.
Vargas (5-5) put on a pitching clinic, getting the San Diego hitters to consistently flail.
The 36-year-old left-hander gave up only a single to Eric Hosmer in the fifth, struck out eight and walked three. Rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. struck out three times and Manny Machado swung at a strike three that bounced.
Several scouts were at Citi Field, and no doubt the performance Vof argas piqued their interest as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
Vargas’ hardest fastball was clocked at 84.6 mph — Paddack’s slowest changeup came in a tick faster 84.7.
The anticipated showdown between rookie stars Pete Alonso and Paddack didn’t amount to much — the slugging Alonso walked twice and grounded out against the young fireballer.
Padres: LHP Adrian Morejon “should be available” to pitch in relief during this three-game series, manager Andy Green said. The 20-year-old Cuban made his major league debut Sunday at Wrigley Field, giving up one run and three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Green said the Padres would consider using him as an opener over the weekend at home vs. the Giants.
Mets: Major league batting leader Jeff McNeil was hit in the right elbow by a Paddack pitch in the fifth. McNeil was checked by a trainer and stayed in. … RHP Zack Wheeler (shoulder impingement) threw batting practice on the field and could be activated Friday to pitch against the Pirates. “I’m 100%. Ready to go,” he said. Callaway said Wheeler, who last started on July 7, will be on a pitch count of 75-85 pitches. Wheeler (6-6, 4.69 ERA) has been the subject of trade rumors leading up to the July 31 deadline. “Last year was the same way,” he said.
Padres: RHP Dinelson Lamet (0-2, 5.14 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. He won his major league debut in 2017 at Citi Field and went 7-8 overall, then missed last year after Tommy John surgery.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (7-4, 4.36) is 4-0 in his past nine starts.
Anthony Rendon agrees to 7-year, $245M deal with Angels
The deal includes a full no-trade clause and doesn’t contain an opt-out clause, sources said. He is tentatively scheduled to undergo his physical Friday and be introduced at Angel Stadium on Saturday.
Having fallen short in their bid to sign ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, the Angels wasted little time in turning their sights toward Rendon.
The 29-year-old joins a lineup featuring Mike Trout, the three-time American League MVP who has reached the postseason just once. Owner Arte Moreno has made it a priority to surround Trout with more talent this offseason, and Rendon is a big piece of the puzzle.
“We’re within some structure of a budget and a payroll forecast that you relatively want to be near, and then we just take those opportunities to Arte and see if he’ll grant us the permission to do those things,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler had said earlier Wednesday, before the Rendon agreement. “There’s good players out there and players that warrant some sizable contracts. I know the players that he likes.”
The Angels set their sights on Rendon immediately after Cole joined the New York Yankees on Tuesday night and had made significant progress on a deal by late Wednesday morning, sources told ESPN. Prior to the agreement, the Angels were roughly $70 million below the 2020 luxury-tax threshold. With room remaining in their budget, they could look to sign free-agent starting pitchers such as Hyun-Jin Ryu or Madison Bumgarner to help fill what remains a dire need at the top of their rotation, according to sources. They’re also interested in a trade with the Cleveland Indians for Corey Kluber, sources said.
Trout signed a deal worth $35.5 million per year through the 2030 season in March, and Rendon’s deal has an average annual value of $35 million, giving the Angels the second- and third-highest salaries behind that of Cole, whose deal with the Yankees is worth $36 million annually. Along with Albert Pujols (10-year, $254 million deal in 2011), the Angels are the first team to sign three different players to $200 million deals.
The Angels’ third basemen ranked last in RBIs and OPS last season and were 25th in on-base percentage. Rendon ranked first in RBIs, sixth in OPS and fourth in on-base percentage.
Alden Gonzalez explains how the Angels agreed on a deal with Anthony Rendon and what he brings to their team.
Rendon was widely considered the top offensive free agent after he had a career season with the Washington Nationals in which he emerged as a candidate for the National League MVP.
He led the majors with a career-best 126 RBIs last season and was named to his first All-Star Game. Rendon also had career highs in batting average (.319), slugging percentage (.598) and home runs (34). His success at the plate carried into the postseason, in which he hit .328 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 17 games, coming up with several timely hits to help Washington clinch the first World Series title in franchise history in his hometown of Houston.
Rendon hit home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series, becoming the fifth player to homer in both those games of a World Series. He also became one of five players to homer in multiple winner-take-all games in a postseason, joining teammate Howie Kendrick.
He played 2019 with the Nationals on a one-year, $18.8 million deal. The Washington Post reported in September that the Nationals offered Rendon a seven-year deal worth $210 million to $215 million earlier that month, but the offer failed to keep him from exploring his value on the free-agent market.
News of Rendon’s agreement elicited differing responses on Twitter from future teammate Trout and former teammate Trea Turner.
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) December 12, 2019
— Trea Turner (@treavturner) December 12, 2019
The sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Nationals, Rendon reached the majors in 2013 and emerged as a potential All-Star in 2014. He finished fifth in NL MVP voting that season after hitting .287 with 83 RBIs, 21 homers, 17 stolen bases and 111 runs. His momentum slowed in 2015 after he missed the first 53 games of the season due to a sprained MCL. Since that year, he has improved his batting average and slugging percentage in four straight seasons.
Considered one of the best defensive third basemen, Rendon has played in at least 136 games five times in his career, including 146 last season. He missed 14 games in April due to a left elbow contusion and also missed the All-Star Game, opting to rehab minor injuries to his left quad and hamstring.
Agent Scott Boras represents Rendon, Stephen Strasburg (who reached a new deal with the Nationals on Monday) and Cole. The combined value of those contracts is $814 million.
Information from ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez was used in this report.
Anthony Rendon a great consolation prize for Angels
I wrote Tuesday night that the Angels should take the pile of cash they’d set aside for Gerrit Cole and give it to Anthony Rendon instead. They did so Wednesday and arguably got a better deal for their money, though it doesn’t solve their most glaring deficiency: starting pitching. Rendon makes the Angels a lot better, though, just as their direct rivals in the AL West, the Astros, are facing the loss of a 7-win starter in Cole.
Angels’ quest to win now begins with Anthony Rendon
SAN DIEGO — It was nearly a decade ago that the Los Angeles Angels missed out on the third baseman they so desperately coveted. Their owner, Arte Moreno, made a strong push for Adrian Beltre following the 2010 season, only to see him choose the division-rival Texas Rangers instead. It proved to be a devastating blow. The Rangers made the playoffs in four of the next six seasons, advancing all the way to the World Series. The Angels didn’t win a single postseason game, and Beltre terrorized them at every opportunity.
On Wednesday, in the thick of an offseason they hope will kick-start another dominant run of contention, the Angels made their amends, signing superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon, the best available position player by a wide margin, to a seven-year, $245 million contract, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The signing came one day after they finished a distant third for star pitcher Gerrit Cole. For Rendon, the Angels beat out the Rangers, who were motivated to add a superstar free agent to help christen their new ballpark, and the crosstown rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who were forced to come to the realization that Rendon was not necessarily interested in playing for them.
The Angels began the offseason with a desperate need for pitching. But rather than shift their focus to the next tier of free-agent starters when Cole spurned them for the New York Yankees, the Angels instead turned to the next available impact player — Rendon, who makes their lineup fierce. He’ll join Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton and Albert Pujols and, eventually, Jo Adell, the promising prospect who projects as a perennial All-Star.
The starting pitching might now come via trade. Angels general manager Billy Eppler, speaking a few hours before getting serious in his negotiation for Rendon, said his phone has been “ringing a lot” with teams interested in their young, controllable, major league-ready players, a group headlined by starting pitcher Griffin Canning and infielder David Fletcher. Eppler could use either of those two — or Luis Rengifo, Matt Thaiss, Patrick Sandoval or Jose Suarez — to acquire someone who could serve either as a No. 1 or 2 starter via trade.
Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians, Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs and David Price of the Boston Red Sox are the big names available, but more conservative options like Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Matthew Boyd of the Detroit Tigers exist.
The Angels also need catchers, and Eppler said he was engaged on up to four of them via free agency and another two on the trade front, one of whom is presumably Willson Contreras, who spent the past four years playing under new Angels manager Joe Maddon in Chicago. Considering the Angels began Wednesday roughly $70 million below the 2020 luxury-tax threshold, they might also be able to acquire a free-agent starter like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel.
In short — the Angels want to win, they know there is a sizable gap to make up, and they’re willing to do what it takes to accelerate their window. They made a promise to Trout, who eschewed free agency to sign a 12-year, $426.5 million extension despite barely ever sniffing October relevance. And they made a promise to Maddon, who chose to return to the organization despite having his pick of whichever managing job he wanted. They told them they were going to do what it takes to compete. And with the Houston Astros engulfed in a sign-stealing scandal that could yield significant punishment, perhaps now is as good a time as any to take the leap.
Only Trout, Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich have been worth more FanGraphs wins above replacement than Rendon over the last four years. During that stretch, from 2016 to 2019, Rendon batted .299/.384/.528, averaging 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. Last year, which ended in World Series triumph, he broke out, finishing third in National League MVP voting after batting .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs for the Washington Nationals. His OPS was 1.010, 359 points higher than what Angels third basemen combined to produce.
The Angels perceivably needed pitching coming into this offseason, but instead they got a bat, which has proven to be Moreno’s preference. They did the same seven years ago, when they basically dismissed the possibility of signing Zack Greinke and instead made a shocking addition in Josh Hamilton.
This turn of events will probably turn out much better.
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