Robinson Cano Won't Be Full-Time Mariners 2B After Return from PED Suspension

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2018

TORONTO, ON - MAY 8: Dee Gordon #9 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by Robinson Cano #22 after scoring a run in the third inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners are going to have a predicament on their hands when Robinson Cano returns from his 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension in August, given that Dee Gordon has been playing well at second base.

General manager Jerry Dipoto told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that Gordon will hold on to the second baseman role, at least in some capacity:

"As versatile and athletic as Dee is, it's not that easy to go play center field for a month-and-a-half and then say, 'Oh, by the way, you're going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just haven't been out there.' It's going to take some juggling and we'll have to figure out a way.

"That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp. But we do know Dee is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason—which we do—then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it's going to be Dee Gordon."

The complication for the Mariners is that Cano is ineligible for the postseason. So while he could undoubtedly help the team in its quest to reach the playoffs, it makes sense to play Gordon at least some at second base.

But that raises another question: Where will Cano—who has spent his entire career at second base—play when Gordon starts at second?

One possibility is first base. Another logical option would be designated hitter, though Nelson Cruz occupies that position. The Mariners could try to hide Cano or Cruz in left field, but Denard Span is manning that post. Perhaps Seattle will experiment with moving Span to center field to make things work.

Dipoto believes it's a good problem to have, regardless of how the team solves it:

"The one thing we do know is, if we remain as competitive in the standings as we are now—and we think we will—we will have a chance to make perhaps the biggest acquisition of anybody at the deadline in picking up Robinson Cano. Then we have to figure out how to balance all the pieces.

"That's the stuff we're going to have to figure out when we get there. We all know that a lot can happen in baseball. First, we have to continue to play well. If we start to get too far ahead of ourselves in allocating playing time in late August and September as we sit here in June, that's probably not the wisest thing to do."

Gordon is hitting .280 with one home run, 27 runs and 19 steals in 22 attempts, and he has not made a fielding error since moving to second base. But Cano's production—he was hitting .287 with four homers and 23 RBI in 39 games before his suspension—will be huge for the Mariners once he returns.

A good problem to have, indeed.