3:45pm: Cano told Greg Johns of MLB.com and other reporters that he’ll head to Philadelphia to see a hand specialist on Tuesday. Meanwhile, manager Scott Servais suggested that Gordon won’t be taking over for Cano at second, per Divish.
3:01pm: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has suffered a a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. The injury occurred Sunday when Cano took a pitch off the hand from Tigers starter Blaine Hardy, forcing him to exit the game in third inning.
It’s unclear how much time Cano will miss, though it’s worth noting that Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison and Giants ace Madison Bumgarner have suffered similar injuries in recent weeks. Harrison’s in the middle of at least a six-week recovery, while Bumgarner will end up missing around two months. It stands to reason Cano is likely in line for a similar absence, which is an awful development for a 22-17 Seattle team that’s just a game out of a wild-card spot as the season nears the quarter pole.
The 35-year-old Cano has been one of the driving forces behind the Mariners’ success this season, having slashed .287/.385/.441 with four home runs in 169 plate appearances. The former Yankee was clearly on his way to his fifth straight above-average campaign with the Mariners, who signed him to a 10-year, $240MM contract entering the 2014 season. Now, the durable Cano is likely to end up playing his fewest games in a season since he amassed 122 appearances as a second-year man in 2006. Entering 2018, he had appeared in at least 150 games in 11 straight seasons.
The Mariners replaced Cano on Sunday with utilityman Andrew Romine, but he likely doesn’t have the offensive skills to serve as a regular. The same goes for Taylor Motter, a 40-man option who’s currently in Triple-A, and fellow minor leaguer Gordon Beckham (he’s not on Seattle’s 40-man). The Mariners have a logical replacement for Cano in the 30-year-old Dee Gordon, who was a more-than-capable second baseman with the Marlins prior to this season. Seattle acquired Gordon in an offseason trade, and thanks to Cano’s presence, the club immediately shifted the speedster to center field. Gordon hasn’t drawn great reviews in the grass, though, with negative marks from Defensive Runs Saved (minus-8), Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-2.7) and Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric (minus-2).
While it’s unknown whether the Mariners would consider moving Gordon back to the keystone, it’s clear there aren’t many available choices on the open market. Veteran Brandon Phillips looks like the best of the free-agent bunch. Interest in Phillips has been scant, but he wants to play, and this injury could perhaps open the door for his return to the majors. The Mariners may be hard pressed to find someone who’s clearly superior to the 36-year-old Phillips on the trade front – general manager Jerry Dipoto’s preferred route. Not only are deals hard to come by at this point in the season, but the Mariners likely don’t have a strong enough farm system to acquire an impact player.