Red Sox Rumors: Avoid Robinson Cano as a second base solution

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 17: Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after lining out to Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros to end the game in the ninth inning at Safeco Field on April 17, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Houston Astros won 4-1. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 17: Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after lining out to Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros to end the game in the ninth inning at Safeco Field on April 17, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Houston Astros won 4-1. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners are rumored to have put second baseman Robinson Cano on the trading block but he should not be on the radar for the Boston Red Sox.

Any time a high profile player is potentially available we have to wonder if the Boston Red Sox will get involved. This isn’t one of those times.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that the Seattle Mariners are actively making an effort to trade infielder Robinson Cano. The eight-time All-Star could generate some interest on the trade market but he’s not an option the Red Sox should touch with a ten-foot pole.

This is despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of incumbent second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who missed almost the entire 2018 season and remains questionable for the start of next season. The internal replacement options were underwhelming enough to prompt a mid-season trade for Ian Kinsler, who is now a free agent. Barring an unexpected reunion with Kinsler, Boston will be back in the same position they were in before that deadline deal if Pedroia’s balky knee never fully recovers.

The Red Sox should be exploring second base options to provide some insurance for Pedroia. Just not Cano.

It’s not that he doesn’t have the potential to help this team. Cano hit .303 with a .845 OPS, 10 home runs, and 50 RBI in 80 games this year. He’s no longer a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman yet he still rates above-average in the field. Even at this stage of his career, Cano is among the top all-around second baseman in the league.

He’s still not an option for the Red Sox. Not even in a salary dump where they could acquire him without significantly depleting an already thin farm system. Cano is a big name but also comes with a big contract that owes him $120 million over the next five years. He’s already 36 years old and heading toward a decline phase that we knew would eventually make his contract an albatross. Maybe he would be an upgrade for the Red Sox next year. It’s not worth paying him $24 million in his age-40 season to find out.

We also can’t ignore that Cano missed 80 games with a PED suspension this year. He proved he’s still a productive player when he returned without the benefit of a banned substance yet it’s still a red flag when a player his age is caught using PEDs. How much does he have left in the tank if he felt the need to cheat this late in his career and can he make it through a full season without doing it again?

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Other teams will certainly kick the tires on a Cano deal, with the New York Yankees rumored to be in the mix. It makes sense for the Yankees to consider Cano. His best years were played in the Bronx so their fans would welcome him back. The Yankees can also offset some of the financial burden by sending Jacoby Ellsbury‘s contract to Seattle in the deal. The aging outfielder hasn’t been a productive player in years but the $47 million he’s owed (including a buyout in 2021) may be more appealing to Seattle than keeping Cano on the books.

The Red Sox don’t have any horrible contracts to trade in a similar swap. Hanley Ramirez is gone. Pablo Sandoval still counts toward the luxury tax next season but Boston can’t trade a player who is no longer with the organization. Who else would they be desperate enough to unload?

The only reasonable answer to that question would be Pedroia. If his ailing knee fails to cooperate for a comeback, sending Pedroia and the $40 million owed to him through 2021 would be one way to offset some of the risks of taking on Cano’s contract. That will never happen though. Pedroia means too much to this franchise to have his tenure end that way. Especially when his replacement was a long-time Yankee. Making that trade would be a PR nightmare.

Next. Grading trades that shaped 2018 season. dark

Boston has a potential opening at second base if they can’t rely on Pedroia and Seattle seems eager to move Cano. While the teams may seem to be a match, this is one deal Dave Dombrowski needs to pass on.