After multiple reports suggesting a deal could be close, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes has reported the Seattle Mariners and second baseman Robinson Cano have agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract. Cano spent the first nine seasons of his career with the New York Yankees, so how will the move cross-country affect his fantasy value?
At first glance, the move from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the more spacious Safeco Field stands to have a negative impact on Cano’s power numbers. But Cano actually hit more home runs on the road last season (16) then at home (11), and his RBI total (52 on the road, 55 at home) and batting average (.325 at home; .303 on the road) were similar over a comparable number of plate appearances. Looking a bit deeper, Cano has a .309 batting average and a .487 slugging percentage (.837 OPS) along with four home runs and 20 RBI in 40 career games (163 plate appearances) at Safeco Field. Quite frankly not much can be taken from that small sample, in what is essentially a quarter of a season in his new home park.
Cano’s supporting cast will not be as talented in Seattle, though another move or two looks possible, but injuries hampered the Yankees’ lineup last season and Cano still produced at a high level (.314, 27 home runs, 107 RBI and seven stolen bases). So even if he gets pitched to more carefully with the Mariners and winds up taking more walks, I don’t see Cano’s production falling off a cliff with his new team.
Cano’s durability is of note to fantasy owners, as he has played at least 159 games in each of the last seven seasons. At age 31 that may change during the duration of his contract, but for the foreseeable future Cano should remain one of the most durable players at any position and one of the easiest players to predict from a fantasy perspective.
Even with a decline in production likely due to playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly park, Cano will still be one of the first second baseman drafted in fantasy leagues next spring and case can be made for him to remain the No.1 option at the position. A .300 batting average with 20 home runs and 90-100 RBI is a realistic projection for Cano in 2014, particularly if the Mariners continue to fortify their lineup this offseason, and that kind of production is certainly rare at second base.