Robinson Cano's time with the San Diego Padres has ended. The Padres requested Canó's permission to option him to the minors on Thursday, but Canó had enough service time to reject any optional assignment and elect free agency instead. The result is tantamount to Canó's release. As a corresponding move, the Padres have recalled outfielder Nomar Mazara.
Canó, 39, signed with the Padres in mid-May after being released by the New York Mets. He entered Wednesday's game having taken 34 plate appearances with San Diego, in which he'd hit .094/.118/.091 with 10 strikeouts and one walk. Canó had previously batted .195/.233/.268 in 12 games with the Mets.
Mazara, 27, had 101 RBI in 2017 and has three 20-homer seasons in his career, but he's a .255/.315/.418 (90 OPS+) hitter as a poor defender at a corner outfield spot. The result is a 1.0 WAR in 629 career games.
It's unclear how Canó will be received on the open market. Reports from when he signed with the Padres indicated that other teams were interested in adding him to their rosters. His seasonal numbers still represent a small-sample size, but the combination of his age; him missing the entire 2021 season because of a suspension over a failed drug test; and his underlying data thus far suggest that his days as a productive big-league hitter are in the past.
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Indeed, Canó's average exit velocity this season is more than three miles per hour slower than it was in 2020. His maximum exit velocity is down nearly five ticks. His whiff rate is up, and so is his groundball rate. Statistically, he doesn't appear to be a hitter in decline so much as a hitter who has already declined.
Should this prove to be the end of the road for Canó, he'll head into retirement having amassed a .301/.351/.489 (125 OPS+) slash line with 335 home runs and 68.6 Wins Above Replacement over parts of 17 big-league seasons. He's an eight-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger Award recipient, and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner. He also finished in the top five of Most Valuable Player Award voting on five separate occasions.