A day after Robinson Cano was suspended for the 2021 season after he again failed a performance-enhancing drug test, there remained more questions than answers Thursday — from his side of things, at least.
Why was Stanozolol, a steroid, in his system?
Why, at his age and career stage, would he risk the legacy (and financial) implications that come with a second positive PED test?
Did he regret making his grand declarations at the time of his first suspension or making Brodie Van Wagenen look silly for defending Cano and his character at the time of his December 2018 trade to the Mets?
"I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love," Cano said through the MLB Players Association in May 2018, when he tested positive for a diuretic, which sometimes is used to mask a PED. "And after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one."
Cano’s representatives at Roc Nation did not respond to requests for comment. The MLBPA declined to comment.
Whatever those answers, the Mets are in a fine position — perhaps a better position — without their second baseman.
The biggest reason is money. Cano, 38, was due to make $24 million in 2021, but now he will not be paid. The Mets still are expected to receive about $4 million from the Mariners, a source said, as part of the trade agreement that included Seattle cash to offset Cano’s salary — even though they don’t need it for him for next season.
How will the Mets use the cash that Cano won’t receive? One inquiring mind asked owner Steve Cohen on Twitter and suggested that bullpen carts — to drive relievers from the bullpen to the infield — were a worthy investment.
Cohen, as part of his recent habit of interacting directly with fans on the social-media platform, responded within three minutes.
"Spend it on players," he wrote. "Bullpen cart can wait."
The Mets have plenty of ways they can spend the money on players. Most of the best free agents — J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, Marcell Ozuna and others — could reasonably fit on the Mets’ roster.
If they were to sign with the Mets, any of those players still would be on the team when Cano — and his salary — return for 2022. If that happens, Cano will face a potentially difficult dynamic when he has to interact with other major-leaguers.
Cheating is a good way to draw the ire of your peers. Some big-leaguers believe that the current bans for PEDs — 80 games for a first offense, 162 games for a second offense, a reversible lifetime ban for a third offense — are too weak.
"LIFE TIME BAN," Athletics reliever Jake Diekman tweeted shortly after the Cano news brokeWednesday.
Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks similarly chimed in: "Stop cheating mannn."
Michael Young, a 14-year major-leaguer who broke in during the early 2000s when steroid use was rampant, warned aspiring ballplayers.
"Hey kids . . . don’t take steroids," tweeted Young, who works for the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager.
And then there are those close with Cano. Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who works out with Cano in the Dominican Republic, seemed to be caught off guard by the news during his coincidentally scheduled interview with Detroit-area reporters Wednesday.
"I saw the news," Candelario said. "He’s a human being. I’m here for him. He’s my friend . . . I will give him a couple of days, then I will try to reach him. But there’s not much that I can say."