Robinson Cano suspended for 2021 season after another positive PED test

Robinson Cano is suspended for all of 2021 after a second positive test for PEDs. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Robinson Cano is suspended for all of 2021 after a second positive test for PEDs. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

New York Mets star Robinson Cano has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs for the second time and now will be suspended for the entire 2021 season, the league announced Wednesday.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news about Cano’s second positive test, which will cost him his entire $24 million salary. A league statement quickly followed, confirming that Cano, 38, tested positive for stanozolol, a synthetic steroid that is banned by the league:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that New York Mets second baseman Robinson Canó has received a 162-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension of Canó, who was previously suspended for a violation of the Program on May 15, 2018, will commence at the start of the 2021 regular season.

Cano was previously suspended in May 2018 when he was with the Seattle Mariners. In his previous suspension, Cano tested positive for furosemide, which isn’t a PED itself, but a diuretic commonly used as a masking agent for drug tests.

Mets president Sandy Alderson released the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed to be informed about Robinson's suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The violation is very unfortunate for him, the organization, our fans and the sport. The Mets fully support MLB's efforts toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the game."

Can Cano’s suspension actually help the Mets?

Without a doubt, the person most hurt by this is Cano. He’s at the stage of his career where his contract far exceeds his value on the field. He actually had a decent 2020 season, hitting 10 homers and slashing .316/.352/.544 across 49 games, but he hasn’t been at his peak for a while.

The Mets likely wouldn’t have gotten $24 million in production from Cano in 2021, so instead, new billionaire owner Steve Cohen has even more money to play with this offseason — in which the Mets are expected to be big bidders for all the top free agents.

Not that Cohen has necessarily put himself on a budget — he made clear his intentions to build a winner and quick — but an extra $24 million for the Mets roster can’t be a bad thing as they pursue Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and DJ LeMahieu.

What does this mean for Robinson Cano’s legacy?

Cano now enters Manny Ramirez territory with his second PED suspension. There are only a handful of players to have been suspended more than once because of steroids. Cano, Ramirez and Marlon Byrd are the only ones to do it who were all-stars.

In 2011, Ramirez was suspended for the second time and abruptly retired. Cano enters new territory in that he still has two years on his Mets contract after 2021 and will be paid handsomely for them — $24 million each year.

The bigger hit will be to his credibility as a player and his respect within the game. After Cano’s 2018 suspension, he was criticized by the likes of Mark Teixeira, Frank Thomas and Michael Young. Teixeira, who was a teammate of Cano’s in New York, said he wasn’t surprised that Cano got suspended.

In 2018, Cano responded to his critics by saying:

“I’ve been tested for 14 years in the past and never had an issue with the MLB testing policy,” he said. “They are free to say whatever they want. That’s something I can’t control ... I would say to young guys, one, you have to be careful and make sure about anything you’re taking. Secondly, we all make mistakes. And third, I don’t want any of them to go through this situation. I think all of us in here make mistakes and some things we regret at times.”

While the Hall of Fame is likely a no-go for Cano, there’s at least a chance he returns and plays some kind of role on a Mets team that is aiming for a championship in 2022 and 2023. He’ll be in his age-39 season, so that’s more challenging after missing an entire season.

Alex Rodriguez may actually provide the blueprint here. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season, at 38, and returned to be moderately productive for the Yankees in 2015. He was worth 3.0 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference, but retired midway through 2016 at age 40.

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