The New York Mets will open the 2022 season with veteran second baseman Robinson Cano back on the active roster. After serving his year-long suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, the team is going to have to work him back into the lineup. A seemingly straightforward task at first glance, a closer examination of the Mets roster reveals that finding the most logical position for Cano to play could be challenging, given the current roster construction.
Cano is also going to be entering his age-39 season. Father Time is not on his side, and older players are generally subject to ageism if their performance ends up not being in line with their career averages. Ultimately, the Mets will make their lineup decisions based on merit, so it will be up to Cano in the end to show that he can still play and perform admirably.
The good news for Cano is that he is coming back to the Mets at the right time. With the adoption of the universal designated hitter essentially agreed upon, it gives Cano another avenue toward more playing time. As an aging slugger, the designated hitter may be the best position for Cano to play, because it would keep his bat in the lineup and his declining fielding prowess off the diamond.
Robinson Cano's case for the designated hitter role is straightforward, but is it the best move for the Mets?
The bad news, though, is that the lineup is currently filled with capable hitters and fielders who all have legitimate cases for significant playing time. That means it is likely that very few Mets will have secure jobs in the starting lineup. As a result, it would be up to Cano to continue to perform like a starting-caliber player at age 39, which could be difficult.
The first two articles analyzed the cases for J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso in the designated hitter role. In this article, I will take a close examination of Cano’s prospects for the designated hitter spot, and whether being moved into that role would be beneficial for him and the Mets.