If you don’t recall, here is a quick summary: Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners seven years ago, one that would cover him from 2014 until 2023.
He played out west until 2018, but before the start of the 2019 season, he was traded to the Mets alongside reliever Edwin Diaz for a package of players that included uber-prospect Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn.
Cano played his first season with the Mets in 2019, but wasn’t particularly good.
He hit .256/.307/.428 in 107 games and 423 plate appearances, with 13 home runs.
His performance in the 2020 shortened season was much better, as he slashed .316/.352/.544 with 10 homers in 49 games.
A Second PED Offense
Late last year, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Cano had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and would be suspended without pay for the entire 2021 season.
Since it was a second-time offense, Cano’s punishment was 162 games instead of 80, like it happened when he was busted for using Furosemide.
The substance found this time was Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
That is why Cano was not part of the Mets’ plans in 2021, but at least they didn’t have to pay him his $24 million salary.
He will be eligible to return next year, when he will be 39.
In fact, Cano has two seasons remaining on his deal after 2021.
He failed his teammates and his club, but unless there is a trade in the works (highly unlikely given his advanced age and contract) he should be back with the Mets next year.
Some people think something can be done to avoid playing him (they would still have to pay him either way), but right now, he is under contract, thus he should be expected to play.
I’d be really surprised if Robinson Canó is on the field for the #Mets in 2022.
Perhaps under the last ownership/regime, I’d expect him to play.
But he will still be paid. https://t.co/GfaNM2FQcx
— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) August 25, 2021
Does He Have A Place On The 2022 Mets?
Will there be a role for him?
If the Mets can’t fit him in the starting lineup, they will have a very expensive backup second baseman.
We can’t quite measure how much the performance-enhancing substances helped him in 2020, but he had a very good year back then.
Of course, it comes with the small sample size caveat: we saw many of the 2020 stars struggle this year in a much longer season, even some of Cano’s teammates such as Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto.
The best thing that can happen to the Mets and Cano is that the league and the players’ association agree to have the universal designated hitter.
The universal DH would allow the Mets to just have Cano occupy that position and keep him away from the field, in order to keep his legs, which have been problematic in the last couple of years, healthy.
Close to what I like to see on Opening Day 2022:
RF Conforto (QO)
LF Pillar / K.Lee
SP via Trade
— Met-Jet Fan 🇵🇷 (@Omy7) August 29, 2021
If there is no universal designated hitter, there is a chance Cano can be an effective hitter in limited time.
It’s unrealistic to expect a 39-year old with a recent history of leg injuries to play 150 games at second base.
However, if the Mets can alternate Cano with McNeil (who would also rotate with another player at third base) and keep his plate appearances around 350 or 400, he could be useful.
The numbers say his 2020 defense wasn’t bad (86th percentile in Outs Above Average, although in limited time), but the best idea is to keep his playing time controlled.
There is a world in which seeing Cano hit .280/.350/.480 over around 300 or 400 plate appearances in 2022 is possible.