For the Seattle Mariners, the future is now. After last season’s disappointing 71-91 season and being passed in the division by the A’s, Angels, and Rangers, Seattle had to make a powerful move to their roster to pull themselves back to the top of the A.L. West. Enter Robinson Cano. The Seattle Mariners signed the former Yankee 2B to the third largest deal in baseball history, tying Albert Pujols and behind two Alex Rodriguez’s deals. After flirting with top free agents Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton the last two seasons, the Mariners got their man in Cano.
What Cano Brings To the Table. First off, Cano doesn’t miss games. Since 2007, the lowest total of games he has played in a season is 159. In the last seven seasons, Cano has not played in fourteen games, an average of two a season. The Mariners are getting a reliable bat to add to their young line-up. Over those seven seasons, Cano batted under .300 only once (.271 in 2008). He has knocked in over one hundred RBIs three times, and he has 25 home runs or more in every season since 2009. Defensively, Cano has improved at the 2B position the farther he has gone in his career. He has committed double digits errors only once in the last four seasons, including just six the last two seasons.
Why the Mariners Pulled the Trigger. This is the biggest FA deal in Mariner history by far at 10 years, $240 million. Besides the needed improvement to the line-up a superstar like Cano brings, Seattle need to make a move like this to show their fan base this team is serious about making the next step. Right now, Seattle needs to improve at least twenty games to be a playoff team in 2014. Cano is the first step in securing those twenty wins. On the business side, Seattle was twenty-fifth in attendance last season, after being twenty-sixth in 2012 and twenty-third in 2011. Seattle fans will support this team, but they need a winner. During 2001-2003, the last Mariner heyday, Seattle was in the top two in the league in attendance drawing over three million fans. Cano draws interest, makes the team better, and puts more fans in the seats.
What’s Next for Seattle? Cano is a very valuable piece, but the Mariners are far from done tinkering with this roster. They have been rumored to be in talks with the Rays to trade for Cy Young winner David Price for a package including Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin. It’s a steep price, but the Mariners need to add another arm to the rotation, and Price would be the No. 1 target. If the Price deal falls through, look for Seattle to target Matt Garza. Seattle still needs a power-hitting OF and a closer. The Mariners may be in the race for former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo or looking at former Ranger Nelson Cruz. Closers Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson have already been signed. If Seattle is still looking at a top-tier guy, that would leave Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s last season. The A’s are probably not going to re-sign Balfour as they acquired Jim Johnson from Baltimore.