Cano’s example has always included a casual style of play. It has worked for him in an extremely durable 15-year career, but he turns 37 this October, and he served an 80-game suspension last season for violating baseball’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The age, the failed test — and the contract through 2023 — might have given other teams pause, but Van Wagenen, of course, is Cano’s former agent.
“Robinson Cano has health, he has talent, and he has a burning desire to be great,” he said, when asked if Cano still seemed like a wise investment. “Those are characteristics that we look for in our clubhouse from all players, and I think he possesses those in spades.”
That may be true, but there is no denying Cano’s age, or the fact that most winning teams have younger compositions. In the last five seasons, only one player older than Cano has had at least 500 plate appearances for a championship team: Carlos Beltran, for the 2017 Houston Astros. Beltran, who was 40, retired after that World Series.
“I’ve been swinging good,” Cano said. “I’ve been hitting balls right at guys. I’m just, like I always am, a positive guy and preparing myself every single day to help this team win a game.”
Van Wagenen added other veterans last winter without much to show for it. Infielder Jed Lowrie (age 35) has not played this season because of a knee injury. Catcher Wilson Ramos (31) was hitting .238 with two homers through the weekend. Reliever Justin Wilson (31) is out with a sore elbow, Jeurys Familia (29) has a 5.51 earned run average, and outfielder Keon Broxton (29) has been designated for assignment.
It looks bleak now, and also a bit farcical, because that is how things always seem to look for the Mets. But Callaway — the manager “for the foreseeable future,” as Van Wagenen put it — tried to lend perspective.