Robinson Cano’s Hall of Fame hopes just took a huge hit. On Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal confirmed a report by Dominican journalist Hector Gomez, stating that Cano would be suspended for 80 games for violating MLB’s joint drug agreement.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 15, 2018
Cano was just placed on the disabled list Monday with a broken finger after he was plunked on Sunday by Blaine Hardy of the Tigers.
This season, before the broken finger, Cano was off to a typically strong start. In 39 games, the 35-year old was slashing .287/.385/.441 with four homers. This is his fifth year of a ten season contract with the Mariners, and he’s still owed $120 million over the final five years of the deal. The Mariners replaced Cano on their active roster with journeyman Gordon Beckham, who hasn’t been an average hitter in the majors since his rookie year of 2009. If Seattle, currently 23-17, 1.5 games behind the Angels and Astros for the top spot in the AL West, wants to keep contending, they’ll need to consider a more competent replacement for Cano.
Cano’s failed test was for Furosemide, a diuretic often used as a masking agent for PEDs. He did not fail a test for a specific PED.
— Robinson Cano (@RobinsonCano) May 15, 2018
Beyond his 2018 season, this failed drug test will taint Cano’s legacy. The eight-time All-Star is closing in on many Hall of Fame standards, including 3,000 hits (currently at 2,417) and the all-time home run mark for second baseman (Cano is at 305, and the record is 377 by Jeff Kent). His JAWS sits at 59.0, seventh among second basemen all-time (the six players ahead of him are all Hall of Famers), and his 67.5 WAR ranks 11th all-time (with eight of the ten ahead of him inducted) among second basemen. Based solely on his credentials (including those eight All-Star Game appearances, five Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, six top ten MVP finishes, and a World Championship in 2009), a Hall of Fame selection would be a lay-up with just another year and a half of average production.
But when you throw in this failed drug test, Cano’s legacy suddenly becomes murky. In the 13 years since the introduction of baseball’s joint drug agreement, no player that has failed a test has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez clocking in as the most prominent players to miss out. Alex Rodriguez, who is not yet eligible for Hall of Fame voting, will be an interesting litmus test when his time comes.
Given everything we’ve seen from voters in recent years however, it’s not looking good for Cano. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, better players than Cano who were never suspended under the JDA, can’t come close to being elected. Ramirez hasn’t even cracked 25% in his two years on the ballot, though he did fail *two* drug tests. Sammy Sosa, who was never suspended for failing a test, hasn’t even cracked 15%.
Cano is the second player this season to be suspended for failing a drug test, along with Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, who was suspended in Spring Training.