The Mariners were already going to be without Cano for a while, given he was placed on the disabled list over the weekend due to a broken bone in his hand. With Cano's absence now stretching to at least 80 games, it's time to ask -- just what will Seattle do at the keystone?
In all likelihood, the Mariners will fill their second-base hole by doing nothing at all, and rolling with some combination of Gordon Beckham and Andrew Romine (Taylor Motter could slot in, too). Theoretically, the M's could slide Dee Gordon back to second base, with Guillermo Heredia taking on a more prominent role in the outfield. But that route would require Gordon to change positions three times over the course of a year and seems less likely by comparison.
If the Mariners are going to do anything beyond the status quo, they might have to go outside the organization. Let's speculate wildly by taking a look at some realistic potential options. (Those looking to replace Cano on their Fantasy teams should click here.)
Ever since Starlin Castro joined the Marlins in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, the expectation has been that he wouldn't remain in town for long. Alas, Castro doesn't seem like a solution for the Mariners. He's owed more than $18 million through the end of next season, making him an awkward fit for a team who seems capped out. Add in how the Mariners will have a full infield outside of first base, and Castro's league-average bat will have to find a home elsewhere.
Between the promotion of various prospects and his own injury issues, Brandon Drury fell out of favor quickly with the Yankees. Yet there were good reasons why many liked the addition during the winter, beginning with the fact he has a career 94 OPS+. Drury won't qualify for arbitration until after this season, and has a history of coming off the bench. As such, he's a cost-effective option who the Yankees would probably be more willing to part with than Tyler Wade.
Viewed in the right light, Logan Forsythe is an older and costlier version of Drury. Lately, he's also been the less productive of the two. Forsythe's time with the Dodgers has been riddled with injuries and underperformance, to the extent that he has a 78 OPS+ in his L.A. career. The Dodgers are doing their best to avoid the luxury tax, meaning they'd probably love to shed what remains on Forsythe's $9 million salary in exchange for budget space to use elsewhere. The problem is the Mariners might balk at taking on the whole amount given the risk involved.
Okay, so Adeiny Hechavarria isn't a second baseman. He is someone likely to be floated in a lot of trade talks in the coming weeks, however, as the Rays prepare to enter the Willy Adames era. Hechavarria would make sense for the Mariners only if 1. Tampa Bay essentially dump him at the cost of what's left on his $5.9 million salary; and 2. Seattle decides it'd like to improve its defense by employing two shortstops up the middle. Put Hechavarria in the "probably not" pile.
In a vacuum, Jed Lowrie would make as much sense for the Mariners as anyone on this list. He's continued to hit following his rebound 2017 and is in the last year of a reasonable contract. Unfortunately, for the M's, it doesn't seem likely that the Athletics would be willing to move Lowrie right now -- especially not when they stand to benefit most from the Cano suspension. If the Mariners are still in the race and the A's fall out by the deadline, then maybe there's a match. Until then, nope.
Yes, Whit Merrifield is in the early stages of his big-league career. Yes, he's been an above-average hitter through his first 1,000-plus at-bats. Yes, the Royals have few bright spots. But they should consider trading Merrifield, in part because come next January he'll be a 30-year-old second baseman. In other words, Merrifield may never have more trade value than he does at the moment -- and it's unlikely he'll be a productive player when the Royals field their next competitive team. The catch is that the Royals have no reason to just give away Merrifield, and the Mariners don't have much left on their farm with which to make a compelling offer.
It's not a good sign when one of the players of interest is someone whose performance earned him a demotion earlier in the season. Still, Travis's likely availability is why he's on here to begin with. The 27-year-old has dealt with injuries and shaky play over the last season-plus, and it's time to start wondering if he'll ever get back to being the player he was in 2015-16. If his performance in 10 games at Triple-A is any indication (he's hit .200/.217/.222), then a trade to the Mariners might be the only way he's returning to the big leagues anytime soon.