Mets designate Robinson Cano for assignment, still owe him $37M

The New York Mets announced on Monday that veteran second baseman Robinson Cano has been designated for assignment, removing him from the team's 40-man roster and effectively ending his time with the Mets.

All MLB teams were required to trim their roster from 28 to 26 players by Monday, and Cano's DFA, along with pitcher Yoan Lopez being optioned to Triple-A, got the Mets to 26 players.

Cano, 39, has not been doing well with the Mets. Over 12 games and 43 plate appearances, he's hit .195/.233/.268 with one home run. While it's only 12 games, the Mets are a supernova right now (they've won all seven series they've played since opening day and have the best record in the National League). With the team on such a tear, they don't have the time (or possibly the desire) to see if Cano will find his swing and improve his timing. Despite owing Cano around $37 million for his 2022 and 2023 salary, the Mets — and owner Steve Cohen's extremely fat wallet — decided to move on.

Cano's time with Mets complicated by suspension

Cano's rustiness isn't just due to the extended lockout during the offseason, which bled into spring training and subsequently delayed the start of the regular season. He was suspended for the entire 2021 season after testing positive for Stanozolol, a drug that's banned by MLB under its performance-enhancing drug policy. Cano actually had a previous suspension on his record, as he missed 80 games in 2018 after testing positive for the banned drug Furosemide.

Apr 8, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA;  New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) before the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Mets have designated Robinson Cano for assignment, essentially ending his time with the team. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets, of course, didn't anticipate that Cano would test positive a second time when they traded for him before the 2019 season — though he did come with high expectations and a similarly high price tag. Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners in 2013, and the trade meant the Mets were on the hook for the remainder of that deal. But the Mets likely figured Cano would be worth it, since he'd hit .296/.353/.472 with 107 home runs in five seasons with the Mariners, which was pretty close to how he'd performed in his heyday with the New York Yankees.

It didn't quite work out that way. He hit a mediocre .256 with 13 home runs in 2019, the only full 162-game season he'd spend with the Mets. He bounced back in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting over .300 in 49 games, but that wasn't enough to earn Cano more time to right the ship after his 2021 suspension.

It's not clear what Cano will do next. He'll have to ask the Mets for his release (unless a team puts in a claim for him, which is highly unlikely), and then he's free to sign with other teams. His days as a starter are over, but Cano could find a home on a team that needs a veteran presence, as long as he's willing to fill a bench role.