The Seattle Mariners find themselves in a place they aren’t used to being. Sitting 20 games above .500, they are mostly in control of their own destiny. A playoff berth is in reach with 60 games left in the year, and they are about to get a huge piece back. Robinson Cano is set it come back from his suspension on August 14th, and the likelihood is he will start once he is back. Dee Gordon has been shifted back to his regular second base position. Mitch Haniger and Ben Gamel have been great outfielders all year, with Denard Span being a great fill in. The question for the Seattle Mariners becomes, what to do about Robinson Cano?
What to Do About Robinson Cano
Put Him Back at Second Base
The simplest option is to go back to the setup that the team started the year with. Dee Gordon in center, with Robinson Cano at second base. This would take Denard Span out of the lineup, who is slashing .286/.329/.450. Adding that to a career high home run rate, Span has been quite useful. Cano is a better player, who still plays good defense, an area that Span has been declining in. It would leave the team with a great fill-in player with Span, and help keep the team healthy. Cano was actually on pace for a 7.5 WAR, which would’ve been his second highest since joining the Mariners. He needs to get back in the lineup, but is second the best place for him?
Ride the Pine… Sort Of
Another option that needs to be looked at, especially with Cano on the books through 2023, is switching positions. As Cano slows down and his arm strength drops, the team needs to find a new position for Cano. First base and DH seem to be the most likely options. Nelson Cruz is 38, can only play DH, is a free agent after 2018, and father time is breathing down his neck. The Mariners could move Cano into the DH position and let Cruz leave in free agency. This doesn’t yet seem like the right move, as Cano is still an above average defender. Where else could they put him?
Moving Over to Man First
A way the team could keep Cano on the field to retain his glove is to move him to first base. The issue here is that Ryon Healy has turned into someone the fans enjoy and root for. However, Healy is a case of a decent player coming in to a position that has been one of the worst in the majors over the last 7-10 years, which has made him seem like a better player. He isn’t a good defender, and his eye at the plate isn’t that great either. With a slash rate of .249/.280/.476 and a defensive WAR of -1.0, there is a lot of room for improvement. The power is there, but fans will quickly tire if all he is good for is home runs. If Cano can be an average first baseman on defense, this could be a good move for the team.
The Last Word
The best option for the remainder of this year, and likely 2019, is to move Robinson Cano back to second base. Yes, Dee Gordon is all over the field and can cover a lot of ground that Cano can’t. Cano’s arm makes up for a lot of this, and Gordon is becoming a good center fielder as he learns the position. He should be a lot better in 2019 with a year of experience and an entire off season under his belt. Many fans don’t want to see Gordon moved away from second, but it seems to be the best option for the team. When Cano comes back on the 14th, the team should do the right thing and put Cano back to second.
Until his suspension is reinstated for the playoffs, which is a different argument for a different day.