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McNeil not focusing on Cano trade rumors

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Because he is human, Jeff McNeil sees and hears the rumors regarding a potential Mets trade for Robinson Cano. Less than a month after new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said McNeil is "penciled in" as the Mets' starting second baseman, his job status does not appear quite as secure.

Still, a Cano trade remains far from inevitable, with the Mariners talking to more teams besides just the Mets. And even if the Mets do acquire Cano, they could put him at first base or put McNeil at third. Given all those possibilities, McNeil is doing his best to block out the noise coming off a standout rookie season.

NEW YORK -- Because he is human, Jeff McNeil sees and hears the rumors regarding a potential Mets trade for Robinson Cano. Less than a month after new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said McNeil is "penciled in" as the Mets' starting second baseman, his job status does not appear quite as secure.

Still, a Cano trade remains far from inevitable, with the Mariners talking to more teams besides just the Mets. And even if the Mets do acquire Cano, they could put him at first base or put McNeil at third. Given all those possibilities, McNeil is doing his best to block out the noise coming off a standout rookie season.

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"I see it. It's hard not to see it," McNeil said Wednesday at a Mets charity event in Elmhurst, Queens. "But I try not to think too much about it, and just kind of go about my business and do the same thing I always do.

"I'm just doing what I can in the offseason. I'm going to come in preparing to be the everyday second baseman right now. So I'm just going to work hard and come to Spring Training."

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: "It's hard not to see it," Jeff McNeil says of the Robinson Cano rumors. He's doing what he can to shrug them off as he prepares for 2019: pic.twitter.com/05TXM8KE6A

Mentally, that should be easier for McNeil than ever before. A year after coming to camp buried on the organizational depth chart, McNeil stands atop it after hitting .329 with three home runs, six triples, seven steals and an .852 OPS in 63 games. Also playing better-than-advertised defense at second base, McNeil finished tied for sixth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting -- and likely would have placed higher had the Mets not waited until late July to call up the 26-year-old.

With Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes out of the picture, McNeil has a clear path to keeping his job at second -- barring an acquisition of Cano or some other more established infielder. At the GM Meetings in early November, Van Wagenen said as much, calling McNeil his likely starter.

"When I heard that, it was great," McNeil said. "That doesn't change what I'm going to do in the offseason. I'm still going to come in prepared to be the second baseman, come in prepared to try to play well."

Originally scheduled to fly to New York on Tuesday night for the Mets' annual shopping spree charity event, McNeil endured an overnight delay that forced him to take a crack-of-dawn flight to make it on time. He considered the hectic travel worthwhile when he arrived in Queens, where McNeil and Zack Wheeler went on a Target shopping spree with underprivileged area children.

"I'm just glad I can give back to them," McNeil said, "and just make sure they have a good holiday season."

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: Jeff McNeil and Zack Wheeler are getting into the holiday season today, hosting a Target shopping spree for children from underprivileged families. pic.twitter.com/liJrZwvF9M

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jeff McNeil