This would be an incredibly bold transaction for any team, let alone one that finished 25 games out of first place in their division. This move should at least prove to be worth the money for the first half of the contract. Cano, a consistent performer, has batted .297 or higher each year (expect for one) since he was called up from the minor leagues. Through the first nine seasons of his career, Cano has averaged 23 home runs, 91 runs batted in, and 183 hits. Since 2009, he has been worth an average of 6.8 wins above replacement.
Signing the best player on the free agent market demonstrates to Mariners fans that the front office is committed to winning. Since the announcement of Cano’s contract, Seattle has signed Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison, improving an offense that struggled to score runs last season. The Mariners could catch some teams by surprise this year, especially if pitcher, Felix Hernandez has a typical season and if the farm system can add some productive prospects to the Major League roster.
However, the 10-year contract could have damaging implications down the road. Players rarely maintain their level of production as they age during the duration of their contract. The only players who signed contracts for more money than Cano’s were New York Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez (10-year, $252 million in 2001 with the Texas Rangers and 10-year, $275 million with the Yankees in 2007) and Albert Pujols (10-year, $240 million with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). While Rodriguez preformed well statistically for the majority of his first 10-year contract, the second one has proven to be a disaster as his play has declined and drug rumors have been synonymous with his name. Two years into the Pujols deal, the Angels are still waiting for him to revert to the form he displayed during his MVP days with the St. Louis Cardinals.
If the Mariners do not win within the first half of Cano’s contract, then they could financially handcuff themselves going forward. If Cano gets injured, then a large portion of their payroll will be watching the team from the bench instead of playing for it. If Cano’s numbers do not translate to the spacious Safeco Field, then the Mariners’ offense will not improve as much as it should based on the money they are paying.
Despite these qualms about the Cano contract, Mariners fans should be very excited. He is the top second baseman in baseball and is a pleasure to watch play. A winning attitude is back in the Pacific Northwest.