Mets infielder Robinson Cano makes winter ball debut

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Robinson Cano blue jersey near home plate 2020
Robinson Cano blue jersey near home plate 2020

Mets infielder Robinson Cano, who was suspended for the entire 2021 season following his second PED-related violation, made his winter ball debut on Wednesday.

Cano went 1-for-4 while playing for Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Republic.

He will be back on the Mets' books in 2022 and 2023, with an annual salary each year of $24 million, of which $20 million per year is the Mets' responsibility.

Cano struggled in 2019 in his first season with the Mets after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners, but was one of their better offensive players in the shortened 2020 season, slashing .316/.352/.544 with 10 homers in 49 games.

He turned 39 years old on Oct. 22.

It remains to be seen what the Mets' plan is for Cano, but his full salary will be on their books and count toward the luxury tax in both 2022 and 2023.

"Could be second base, could be at third base, could be at DH if we have it," Sandy Alderson told reporters on Wednesday. "We’re just going to have to see. … I think how he is received will depend on how he conducts himself and explains himself between now and spring training."

It's hard to envision Cano -- at 39 years old and after missing an entire season following a second steroid suspension -- being an answer for the Mets in the infield in a regular capacity.

Perhaps he could fit in as part of the plan at DH (if the NL adds one). Maybe he'll be a bat off the bench. Or maybe the Mets cut their losses and release him.

Either way, the situation with Cano will be something to watch heading into the 2022 season.