Luis Guillorme #13 of the New York Mets completes a...

Luis Guillorme #13 of the New York Mets completes a third inning ending double play after forcing out Jean Segura #2 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Sunday, May 1, 2022 in the Queens borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Robinson Cano returned from his one-year PED suspension having to prove he belonged on the 2022 Mets.

To date, he hasn’t.

And after Dominic Smith matched his career high with four hits, and three RBIs, in Sunday’s 10-6 victory over the Phillies, that could mean Cano’s time is up is Flushing when rosters are trimmed from 28 players to 26 on Monday.

If Cano knew his fate after the game, he wouldn’t say.

When asked about his status, he replied with a smile, “It’s out of my control.” As for remaining a Met, he said, “I’m still here,” then headed out the clubhouse door.

The team has until noon Monday to make the roster moves official.

There’s no other way to spin it: Cano has been a shell of his former All-Star self. He is hitting .195 (8-for-41) with one extra-base hit (his April 15 homer), 11 strikeouts and a .501 OPS.

 

Say what you want about it being early, and small sample sizes, and Cano trying to adjust to a part-time role. But the bottom line is this: The Mets made no secret how they view Cano by leaving him out of Sunday night’s lineup despite facing Phillies righthander Zach Eflin.

It was a glaring omission. Instead, the Mets went with Luis Guillorme at second base — Guillorme now has more starts at the position (seven) than Cano (six) — and moved Jeff McNeil to leftfield.

In essence, manager Buck Showalter was going with Guillorme’s bat (and superior glove) over the five-time Silver Slugger with 2,632 career hits. And that was more bad news for Cano as Guillorme delivered the Mets’ first lead with a two-out RBI double in the second inning.

Sitting Sunday for Cano had to sting.

“It’s tough, and I’m very empathetic to that,” Showalter said Sunday afternoon. “But we’re trying to win a baseball game tonight. There’s a lot of things, we’ve taken in a lot of factors, and what gives you the best chance to win a baseball game. That’s the tiebreaker always.”

Coming on the eve of teams needing to cut back their rosters further emphasized that Cano doesn’t have a role on these Mets. Let’s rephrase that: an on-field role.

Cano remains very popular among his teammates, with many respecting him as a veteran leader. That was true in spring training and hasn’t changed three weeks into the regular season, even though Cano’s contribution to the team’s 16-7 start has been minimal.

Could that improve? Possibly. We’re talking about 23 games here. But if a healthy Cano is able to start only half of those, including the five at DH, the early signs suggest his struggles could continue as a part-time player, a challenge he’s never had to deal with during his 17-year career.

“It is what it is,” Showalter said. “It’s difficult for him. I’m well aware of that. It’s difficult for a lot of guys. It’s difficult for J.D. Davis, for Dom Smith, Guillorme. But it sure beats Syracuse, Binghamton. It sure beats some other jobs.”

Unlike those others, however, Cano is in his own category. He’s still due roughly $45 million from the Mets through 2023, and they’re paying him more than $400K for each hit thus far.

Eventually, and perhaps as early as Monday, if general manager Billy Eppler believes Cano’s roster spot outweighs his value — the Mets are trending in that direction — there’s little doubt that mega-billionaire owner Steve Cohen will grant his wish.

From an economic standpoint, Cano is a sunk cost, and at age 39 — coming off two PED suspensions — he could be approaching his expiration date.

“When you’re talking about good players, there’s not a right or wrong decision,” Showalter said after the game. “One might be a little more right than the other one.”

A month ago, the Mets could cling to their most optimistic projections about Cano’s return. That’s what happens in spring training. But now real games are being played and the evidence is snowballing against Cano.

If Sunday night was any indication, his role is shrinking before our eyes. And how much more can it be reduced before it makes sense to have him disappear entirely?

At this rate, the Mets will be grappling with that question in the very near future, if they aren’t already.

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