Potential MLB Landing Spots for Robinson Cano After Mets Release

Zachary D. RymerMay 4, 2022

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets looks on against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)
Joe Puetz/Getty Images

Robinson Cano and the New York Mets are parting ways, but he may yet get to write a final chapter to his MLB career with another team.

The 39-year-old began the 2022 season as their starting second baseman but hit just .195 through 12 games. This was on the heels of a season-long suspension because of a second violation for performance-enhancing drugs and in the face of rosters being cut down from 28 to 26 men, so it was no surprise when the Mets designated him for assignment on Monday.

If this is the end for Cano's major league career, it's an oddly appropriate bummer.

His eight All-Star selections and high offensive ranks among second basemen (e.g., second with 301 career home runs) once painted him as a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. However, his PED suspensions likely put the kibosh on that, and now he's looking for work even though he's still owed a fair deal of money under his previous contract:

B/R Walk-Off @BRWalkoff

Robinson Canó has been designated for assignment by the Mets.<br><br>Mets owe him over $40M as he is under contract through 2023 <a href="https://t.co/IXcVBn9IOo">pic.twitter.com/IXcVBn9IOo</a>

Yet this won't be the end if Cano has it his way.

As Brodie Van Wagenen—who, in a totally normal sequence of events, is once again representing Cano after previously trading for him as the Mets' GM in 2018—told Joel Sherman of the New York Post: “Robbie absolutely still wants to play. Given the right situation, he can still make a meaningful contribution for a team.”

Cano is worth a flier, and not just because you only have to go back to 2020 to find him hitting like a star to the tune of a .316/.352/.544 slash line. There's also the fact it'll cost next to nothing for a team to sign him. We're talking a prorated percentage of the league minimum, which is only $700,000 this year.

As for where Cano might end up, we have no shortage of speculative possibilities, ranging from contenders like the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres to teams that could look to rehabilitate him into a trade chip, like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics.

But if it's a list you're looking for, here's our take on six teams that fit Cano the best.

6. Miami Marlins

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 14: Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Miami Marlins fist bumps Jon Berti #5 as he is introduced prior to the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at loanDepot park on April 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A return to the New York Yankees doesn't seem especially likely since they already have logjams at second base and designated hitter, but it's a fascinating possibility. If not with the New York Yankees themselves, though, perhaps Cano will join up with all the pinstriped ex-pats down on South Beach.

The Miami Marlins employ former Yankees great Don Mattingly as their manager and Kim Ng—who got her start in baseball in the Yankees front office under Brian Cashman—as their general manager. The Yankees signed Cano before Ng left to join the Dodgers in Dec. 2001, and Mattingly was the hitting coach for Cano and the Yanks from 2005-07.

Beyond these connections, the Marlins could use Cano as a designated hitter.

The Marlins don't have a regular at the position, instead settling for a rotation between first basemen Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper and left fielder Jorge Soler.

All three of those guys are right-handed hitters, which makes the left-handed-hitting Cano a natural fit as a platoon partner. Plus, he's traditionally crushed right-handed pitching:

  • vs. LHP: .762 OPS
  • vs. RHP: .883 OPS

Another reason for Cano to head to Miami is a chance to catch on with a team that seems to be going places. This is a pitching-rich team that, at 12-11, has staked out an early position near the top of the National League East.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols heads to first for an RBI single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday, May 1, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Speaking of platoons at DH, the St. Louis Cardinals are doing just fine with the right-handed component of theirs.

That would be Albert Pujols, whose return to the Gateway City has thus far been a success. Particularly so when the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer has had the platoon advantage, as he's punishing left-handers to the tune of a 1.433 OPS in the early goings.

Meanwhile, left-handed hitter Corey Dickerson is hitting just .182 through 17 games, with only one of his eight hits going for extra bases. And that one? It was a hustle double on an 84.1 MPH blooper.

More broadly, the Cardinals just need more offense in general. They rank closer to the bottom than to the top of the National League in several key categories, including on-base and slugging percentage. They've also hit just 17 home runs as a team, and roughly a third of those (six) belong just to Nolan Arenado.

On the plus side, the Cardinals are yet another pitching-rich team—get a load of this Ryan Helsley guy—that's in second place in the NL Central by way of a 13-10 record. And unlike the Marlins, the Cards obviously have an extensive pedigree as a contender.

4. San Francisco Giants

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates with Thairo Estrada #39 after a 12-3 victory against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

If you're thinking the San Francisco Giants are an awkward fit for Cano, well, you're not wrong.

They may not be well off at second base or DH now, but that will change once they start getting players back off the injured list. Notably, they're awaiting the returns of five left-handed hitters: Brandon Belt, Mike Yastrzemski, Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Steven Duggar.

Nevertheless, we wanted to include the Giants as much for what they might do for Cano as for what he might do for them.

One of the major reasons the Giants co-lead the majors in wins (121 and counting) since the start of 2021 is because of what they've done with veteran hitters. According to FanGraphs, no team is even close to the 25.7 Wins Above Replacement that the Giants have squeezed out of 30-and-over hitters over the last two seasons.

The individual success stories include Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Darin Ruf and Belt last year, and Joc Pederson early in 2022. Collectively, the greater success story is what the Giants are proving with their coaching philosophy, which basically amounts to "more is more."

If the Giants were to make Cano their latest reclamation project, they'd have yet another weapon with which to pursue a return to their first World Series since 2014.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 30: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays pour ice on George Springer #4 after their 2-1 MLB game against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre on April 30, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Cole Burston/Getty Images

Back in the American League, nobody is going to confuse the Toronto Blue Jays for a weak offensive team.

They led the majors with 262 home runs in 2021, and they're just three off the Yankees' pace with 31 long balls so far in 2022. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer have done the heavy lifting with six homers apiece, though Toronto's lineup will surely be even more powerful once Teoscar Hernandez comes off the injured list.

There has, however, been one weakness in the Blue Jays offensive attack over the last two seasons. See if you can spot it:

This is one thing that could attract the Blue Jays to Cano, with still another being that they aren't quite set at DH. The lefty-swinging Zack Collins started strong but has since gone 3-for-27 over his last seven games.

Should the Blue Jays choose to pursue Cano, they could further persuade him with the team's World Series outlook. Per FanGraphs, their 11.6 percent chance of winning it all is the second-best in the American League.

2. Minnesota Twins

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15:  Miguel Sano #22 of the Minnesota Twins reacts in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning of the Opening Day game against the Boston Red Sox on April, 15, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

And now to the American League Central, where there are two contenders with especially strong needs for Cano.

One is the Minnesota Twins, who are in this discussion by way of an injury to slugging first baseman Miguel Sano:

Britt Ghiroli @Britt_Ghiroli

Miguel Sanó will get surgery for a torn meniscus. No timetable for his return, manager Rocco Baldelli said. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Twins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Twins</a>

He had begun the season with just five hits in 54 at-bats, so you could argue that this is addition by subtraction for the Twins. We'll counter that the guy has topped 30 home runs in a season twice, including last year.

There's also the matter of how the Twins are handling their DH spot so far in 2022. In just 23 games, manager Rocco Baldelli has used 10 different starters at the position. And for what? Not much. Just a .616 OPS and zero home runs.

If Cano steps in and fixes this problem, the Twins would have yet another threat in a lineup that's currently being anchored by Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, with more surely to come from Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco. The grip they have on first place at 15-9 would stand to get even stronger.

1. Chicago White Sox

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 27: (L-R) Jose Abreu #79, Andrew Vaughn #25, Jake Burger #30, and Danny Mendick #20 of the Chicago White Sox celebrate their team win over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 27, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 7-3. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox got off to a solid start at the plate, hitting seven home runs and scoring 28 runs through five games.

In 18 games since, they've hit only 13 homers and scored just 47 runs. In all of baseball, only the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds have been less adept at pushing runs across.

For his part, manager Tony La Russa is optimistic. He told James Fegan of The Athletic: "We're going to hit. As long as they keep the attitude that they have now and stay positive and keep working, we're going to hit."

Between hitting luminaries like Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and, for now, Andrew Vaughn, there's a solid foundation for La Russa's confidence in his offense. And yet, there are at least two compelling reasons why the White Sox should consider Cano.

For one, their second base tandem of Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison has thus far accounted for minus-0.4 rWAR. That's tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst in MLB.

For two, the South Siders have gotten just a .208 wOBA from the left side of the plate. This, too, is an MLB-worst figure.

Between these issues and the reality that the White Sox have already sunk as far as 10-13, they have the least to lose of any of the teams on this list. That's why they're our top pick for Cano's next destination.

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.