Mariners second baseman Robinson Canó has been serving an 80-game suspension for violating the MLB’s performance-enhancing drug rules.
His return is quite the conundrum for Seattle. Of course they will gladly welcome his bat back in the lineup as the Seattle offense has been struggling at the same time the Oakland A’s have been on an absolute tear and have passed them in the standings when it comes to the race for the second AL wild card spot.
Obviously, he’ll be slotted back into the middle of the lineup, but the real question is, where will he play in the field?
The eight-time all-star has of course been one of the top fielding second basemen in the league and that has lead to him winning two gold gloves. The problem with this is that Dee Gordon has been manning second base while Canó has been out and he has really played well.
During his minor league stint to help him get ready to come back up, he has been bouncing around the field, playing some third base and some first base.
Kyle Seager has been the third baseman in Seattle for years now and he’s one of the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball, but his bat has been on a pretty downward trajectory and it’s only gotten worse this season as he is only slashing .227/.276/.414. So will they want to potentially sacrifice some defense with a guy who has always been a second baseman to help out the offense?
The other option is first base. The spot is being held by Ryon Healy, who is well on his way to a career-high in home runs, but he isn’t much in the way of a fielder at first base.
DH isn’t an option because that’s Nelson Cruz’s spot and they certainly won’t be taking his bat out of the lineup at any point.
With Seattle sitting only 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot, they’ll gladly take having his bat back in the lineup, and although Canó wouldn’t be able to play in the postseason, should the Mariners make it, if he is even close to what he has been throughout his career he’ll definitely help them get to the playoffs.
General manager Jerry Dipoto has hinted that Canó could bounce around the field, which is an interesting thought. It would enable Seattle to put together a number of different lineups and would enable them to get guys days off as they see fit, while not compromising anyone’s everyday playing time with a guy who wouldn’t be able to play in the playoffs, if the team does make it.
That would also keep his bat in the lineup on a regular basis, which would strengthen the lineup, and if he has learned rather quickly how to play some other positions, he might not hurt the teams’ overall defense all that much, and with his bat back in the lineup he would still have a positive impact on them.
Overall, it’s interesting they aren’t just going to put him back at second base, where he’s played his whole career. It’ll be an interesting situation to watch, because this is like getting a big-time player at the trade deadline.