White Sox: The pros and cons of taking on Robinson Cano
Youth is the dominant theme of the 40-man Chicago White Sox roster. But, on other young teams, adding some veteran presence has proven to help the youth excel.
It is crystal clear that recent World Series teams have managed to mix outstanding young players and proven veterans. And, the White Sox appear to be following the models set by the Astros, Cubs, and Red Sox.
According to Steve Adams with MLB Trade Rumors, the Mariners are actively shopping one of the best veterans out there: Robinson Cano.
As the Sox are following the formula set by the latest World Series winners, the team is approaching the time when the front office begins to actively pursue veterans. So, as the Mariners are looking for a team to take on the hefty contract, should the White Sox front office make an attempt to get their hands on the eight-time All-Star?
While I’d much rather see the White Sox make an attempt to acquire players like outfielder Mitch Haniger or relief pitcher Edwin Diaz, Cano has several good things going for him.
One of those is the fact that he has a career slash of .304/.355/.493 with a career average of 24 home runs and 96 RBI. In 14 years of work, those numbers speak volumes. His batting numbers are comparable to players like Ivan Rodriguez, Joe Torre, and Adrian Beltre.
Defensively, he is one of the best second basemen in the history of the game. Of active players, he has the fourth highest defensive WAR behind Albert Pujols, Beltre, and Miguel Cabrera. And, of those players he has the fewest number of years in the game: 14.
Cano is on several other leader boards, simply because of the sheer number of games he’s played in his 14 years in the MLB. He has the 13th most games played at second base: 2025. This also makes him the active leader in games played. Of career 2nd basemen, he has the 23rd most putouts, 16th most assists, and 11th most double-plays turned.
Cano has proven that he can hit and field, and his fans know it. In 2017, I got to see him play in the World Baseball Classic in Miami in the United States vs. Dominican Republic game on March 11. Every time that Cano approached the plate, the crowd of over 37,000 people chanted “M.V.P.” The Dominican crowd cheered and chanted for every player in the lineup, but every time Cano’s name was announced, the cheers went to an entirely different decibel level.
It is easy to see why Cano is on so many leader boards. In his 14 years in the MLB, he has only played fewer than 150 games in three seasons. In 2018, he played in 80 game – the fewest of his career. In 2005 and 2006, he played 132 and 122 games. After that, he played in no fewer than 150 games, with six seasons of 160 or more games – not including the post season. He has been one healthy player.
But, Cano has a few negatives, too. One of those is the PED suspension from the 2018 series. The other is his outrageous contract. Of course, at the time, bringing Cano to Seattle was worth every penny, but the team has decided to move into rebuild-mode, so Cano is no longer valuable to them.
He’s signed through age 40 at $24 million per year. That’s a combined total of $120 million owed to him in the next five years. It is doubtful that the Mariners expected Cano to play second base until he turns 40, but Cano has proven to be nearly ageless. (Of course a course of PEDs will help with that, too).
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The Sox already have two players who can play second base: Yoan Moncada and Carlos Sanchez. But, neither have the bat that Cano has. It is also doubtful that either will have career numbers close to Cano’s.
What would make Cano valuable to the Sox isn’t necessarily his defense. His offense is what would help the team. In 2018, Cano played 68 games at second base, but he also played a little at first and third. He also filled in at DH in the few games that Nelson Cruz did not play.
Of course, the White Sox rumors about being interested in Cruz are well documented. But, like Cano, he won’t come cheaply. And, Cruz’s bat can hit home runs, but in the same 14 years, Cano has proven to be more valuable. Cruz was paid $14 million in 2018 – that’s a $10 million difference and no players need to be traded to acquire Cruz.
It never gets old watching Robinson Cano play ball. And, if a reasonable trade could be worked out, Sox fans would love him as much as Mariners and Yankees fans have over the years. Whoever ends up with Cano will most likely get some financial aid from the Mariners, but Cano has a player-friendly no-trade clause that could make it even more difficult to move him.
I’d love to see him play in the Midwest on a regular basis. And, he’s one of those guys you’d rather have on your team than play against.