Robinson Cano Mets Conundrum
It is interesting to see Robinson Cano has already had a positive impact on the 2022 New York Mets without playing a game. Starling Marte indicated one of the reasons he signed with the Mets was to play with Cano. Eduardo Escobar said the same exact thing in the introductory press conferences.
What is interesting about that is most assumed Cano would be gone by Spring Training, or at the very least, Opening Day. Cano missed the entire 2021 season as a result of his second PED suspension. He played briefly in the Dominican Winter Leagues, and he didn’t hit for any power as the DH. Eventually, he would be removed from the roster with “back problems.” That was before he went out clubbing.
What would have been a good opportunity to get a look at him turned into a complete failure. This leaves the Mets to look at what he’s done with the Mets and really Spring Training to attempt to analyze about what, if anything, Cano can provide this team.
In 2020, the answer was probably a lot. He looked rejuvenated in that shortened season posting a 143 OPS+ and a 3 OAA+. Of course, the problem there is we know Cano was using PEDs, and it was still a shortened season, which is easier on a then 37 year old player. As such, what was promising can really be looked upon as less so.
In 2019, a year Cano did not get busted for PEDs, he was very disappointing. In a season with a juiced ball, he posted a 95 OPS+, which was the second worst mark of his entire career. He still played a decent second with a 1 OAA. Still, between the lack of hitting and the injuries, it was hard to come away with anything but less than impressed with Cano.
If we look just at the 2019 Cano, that is not a player the Mets can have play everyday in any capacity. He didn’t have the bat to DH, and his defense wasn’t good enough to overcome the poor bat. The 2020 version should be an everyday player, albeit with some allowances for his age, but then again, that was a PED version of himself.
Further complicating matters is the fact Cano missed an entire season. He will be 39 next season having not played a full season really since 2017. Maybe that means Cano is really best suited to being a utility player. The problem there is Cano has really only played second in his career. Really, in his 16 year career, he has only played 14 games at first and two at third base.
In the end, you’re left with a respected player who was an aide to getting players to sign with your team. He was a respected voice for players in that clubhouse. It’s difficult to attempt to cut him or buy him out without first seeing what he can do. However, how can you guarantee a spot to a player who has two PED suspensions and hasn’t had a good full season since 2017.
This is a conundrum for the Mets. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The best case scenario is Cano shows the Mets something in Spring Training, including but not limited to, an ability to play some third base. If that happens, they will be in a much better spot than just cutting loose a player the entire team seemingly wants to be a part of the 2022 Mets.