Padres nearing Robinson Cano deal

11:46 a.m.: The Padres are likely to finalize a deal with Canó tomorrow, tweet Athletic’s Dennis Lin. San Diego already has a vacancy on the 40-man roster, so all they need to do is make a matching 26-man trade.

11h07: The Padres reach an agreement with Robinson Canoreports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Heyman’s colleague, Joel Sherman, reports (on Twitter) that San Diego is one of a handful of teams that have expressed interest. According to Sherman, the eight-time All-Star is likely to sign a major league contract.

Canó was released by the Mets last week. New York had designated him for assignment on May 2, by which time teams were expected to reduce their active rosters from 28 to 26 players. Canó had started just under half of the Mets’ games in the first month of the season, dividing his time roughly equally between second base and designated hitter. He had gotten off to a rocky start, however, hitting just .195/.233/.268 in his first 43 plate appearances.

The 17-year-old MLB veteran showed troubling statistical indicators beyond poor results. He made contact with a personal minimum of 73% swings, a few points below the league average this season. Canó also chased almost half of the pitches he threw outside the strike zone and hit more than 55% of his batted balls on the ground. At 39 and after a full 2021 season lost to a second career suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, the Mets decided those early numbers were reason enough to move on.

One could also take the more optimistic view that Canó was simply shaking off some rust after the long layoff. A 12-game projection is an incredibly small sample on which to base definitive conclusions – even when it comes to high swing-and-miss and chase numbers. When Canó was last eligible before this year, he performed quite well. In 182 plate appearances during the shortened 2020 campaign, he hit .316/.352/.544 with ten home runs. It was the second of three seasons between 2018 and 2020 in which Canó displayed well above average offensive production.

Of course, few players have matched Canó’s performance since entering the league. He is a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner and has finished in the top ten MVP six times in his career. If it weren’t for his pair of PED suspensions, he’d be a virtual lock for a possible Hall of Fame enlistment. There’s no doubt that Canó’s days as a superstar are behind him, but it’s not out of the question that he could still be a useful hitter, especially against the right-handed pitch.

The Padres obviously believe that is the case. San Diego got an amazing production from Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer at the start of the season. Ha Seong Kim, Jurickson Profar and Luke Sees each has unimpressive batting averages, but their combination of power output and (particularly in Voit’s case) huge walk numbers have bolstered their overall performance. The rest of the roster has struggled to varying degrees, and the San Diego team’s overall .227/.320/.364 line is in the middle of the pack.

The Brothers are looking for affordable ways to bolster the offensive. If they think Canó is still an above average hitter, there’s a reason to roll the dice. The Mets remain on the hook for nearly all of the $37.6 million still owed Canó over the next two seasons under the terms of his original 10-year contract with the Mariners. If a deal were to cross the finish line, San Diego would only owe him the prorated portion of the league’s $700,000 minimum wage. That’s especially important with the Brothers just below the luxury tax base threshold of $230 million, which they don’t seem keen on exceeding.

Canó would not be a regular on the pitch for the Padres. Hosmer is a lock to retain first base as long as he hits at that level, and Jake Cronenworth counted second base. Right-handed hitter Voit is the first designated hitter and the numbers to stay that way, but Canó could spell it on occasion against right-handed starters while serving as a depth option on the right side of the infield.

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