Former Yankee Robinson Cano Suspended 80 Games for Violating MLB Drug Policy
By Ty Gonzalez
I’m sorry, but what just happened?
In the early Tuesday afternoon, Dominican reporter Hector Gomez leaked that Mariners second baseman would be suspended for violating the MLB’s drug policy later in the day. Denial and shock immediately hit M’s fans, leading them to initially distrust the report.
It didn’t really make sense. Cano is one of professional baseball’s pure athletes and all-around “good guys.” For the last four seasons, he’s perhaps been the best part of the Mariners organization.
When Ken Rosenthal confirmed Gomez’s report, our collective hearts sank. Officially, Cano is suspended for 80 games.
It turns out, however, that Cano was not suspended for steroids. Instead, he was suspended for the use of Furosemide. Said medication is mainly used to prevent fluid build-up. It is a diuretic, not a PED.
Ultimately, Furosemide is banned for being a masking agent. As T.J. Quinn of ESPN pointed out, the MLB was likely able to prove that Cano was indeed using the medication with the intention of hiding PED use.
Cano released a statement about the suspension. It’s the typical run-around every player who has gotten caught gives. It’s just really sad that this time, it’s Robinson Cano.
Cano is in the very early stages of an expected long disabled list stint. On Sunday, Cano broke the fifth metacarpal in his throwing hand when hit by a pitch from Tigers starter Blaine Hardy. While no specific date was given, it was likely that Cano would return shortly after the All-Star break.
There was a bit of confusion on how Cano’s injury would affect the suspension. Would it start during or after his hand was fully healed? Rosenthal later confirmed that the suspension is effective immediately, meaning Cano will seemingly miss only 20-30 more games than expected.
Drug-releated suspensions are nothing new for current Mariners stars. In 2016, Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games for the use of exogenous testosterone and clostebol. Nelson Cruz also served a 50 game suspension in 2013 after the Biogenesis debacle.
Since then, both Cruz and Gordon have continued to be perennial All-Stars in their career. Some would even argue that Cruz has been at his best since the suspension. This suspension surely does not spell the end of Cano’s success in the MLB.
It has hurt his reputation, however. Cano was well on his way to a potential Hall of Fame induction at some point in his life. Now, with this on his record, baseball writers may never open the doors for Cano to join the halls of Cooperstown.
From an organizational standpoint, Jerry Dipoto has his work cut out for him. The Mariners are off to a solid start in 2018 and are only 1.5 games back of the AL West lead and second AL wild card spot. Now, they won’t have their starting second baseman back until the late-Summer stretch.
This is an unpaid suspension for Cano, which means $10-$12 million of his expected salary reverts back to the Mariners. Dipoto will likely need to hit the trade market at some point to fill the hole Cano’s injury and suspension have created.
Unfortunately, most teams will likely be reluctant to sell so early in the season. In the interim, the Mariners will continue their plan of throwing Gordon Beckham and Andrew Romine out at second.
When the time comes, however, there will be a few solid trade candidates out there. The name that instantly comes to mind is Jed Lowrie. But Lowrie is ninth in fWAR, and therefore will seemingly command a price too high for the Mariners to pay.
The problem with a trade is that Cano will be back at some point this season. You don’t want to pay an egregious price for someone who will end up on the bench.
Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield perhaps falls under this category as well. While he hasn’t had the success of Lowrie in 2018, Merrifield is the Royals second-best offensive threat. They won’t let him go for a bucket of balls.
Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett is another name who will probably switch teams in 2018. Gennett is currently slashing .318/.356/.503 in the early going. His wRC+ of 133 would also come in as the third best on the Mariners, behind Ryon Healy (142) and Mitch Haniger (151). Gennett also played nine games in left for the Reds in 2017, and could possibly slide over there once Cano returns.
That’s neither here nor there, though. Right now, the Mariners will continue to trek in the direction they planned for after Cano’s injury. Their lineup is still very good. They are capable of winning a lot of games with or without Cano. He just makes them even better.
Alas, it’s a sad day for the Mariners, its organization, and its fanbase. Such a situation truly tests the bond the players have created with one another. Will they let this break them, or will they come together in order to achieve their goal?
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