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How Robinson Canó went from wearing Pinstripes to SpongeBob

On May 3, 2005, Robinson Canó made his debut for the New York Yankees in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It was an unceremonious start to his career, as he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. However, his 2005 was an overall success, as he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, only behind reliever Huston Street, although it is worth noting that Tampa Bay’s Jonny Gomes likely deserved the award despite his third place finish.

Nevertheless, what followed was eight seasons of elite production in the Bronx during which he won four silver slugger awards and two gold gloves at second base in addition to a 2009 World Series ring. Furthermore, he produced on a statistical level as well, as his 204 home runs and 44.4 rWAR were nothing short of elite.

Following this nine season stretch, Canó would sign a 10 year 240 million dollar deal with the Seattle Mariners. This came as a shock to many given the Yankees’ historical spending habits, however, New York’s offer came in at three years shorter and 45 million dollars less than Seattle’s, so Canó became the face of the post-Ichiro era in Seattle. For the first four seasons of the deal, Canó would live up to the contract and the hype, and the Yankees seemed to have made a massive blunder as Canó kept the good times rolling for the next four seasons.

Cano after signing his contract (via Spokesman.com via AP)

In 2018, Seattle got off to a torrid start with Canó at the helm once again, as on May 13, the Mariners were five games over .500 at 22-17,  a far better showing than expected for a team who won just 78 games the year prior. However, Canó failed a drug test and got suspended for 80 games on May 15. He returned in mid-August, and the team was still in contention, but despite continued high level production from Canó following the suspension, it wasn’t enough, and the Mariners failed to reach the postseason once again.

Canó, and his contract, would be traded to the Mets the following offseason for a package of top prospects including Jarred Kelenic because Brodie Van Wagenen was bad at this job. Nevertheless, 2019 and 2020 were relatively good years for Canó, who at that point was in his late thirties. However, his production was once again due in part to performance enhancing drugs, as yet another failed drug test eliminated his 2021 season and his chances at a ticket to Cooperstown.

Canó began 2022 as a starter for the Mets once again, however he was released after just a month of admittedly horrid production. In this situation, most wouldn’t seek another contract, remain a free agent for a couple years, and cash their checks until their contract expired. However, Canó received another contract with the Padres, and continued to struggle, and he was released again. Most people who would’ve tried again after being released once wouldn’t after the second time, but Robinson Canó isn’t most people, so he kept it going, signing a minor league deal for the Padres.

In his first minor league game in years, it was SpongeBob night for the El Paso Chihuahuas, and Canó looked the part with his SpongeBob themed uniform. Most veterans of the game would see this as degrading, and possibly not played, but Canó suited up in a SpongeBob uniform, and he kept it going. He went 1 for 5, and he likely won’t suit up in the bigs again, but much like the game’s elder statesmen like Jamie Moyer and Julio Franco before him, Robinson Canó may continue to play baseball until he physically can’t anymore, even if he has to wear a uniform straight out of Bikini Bottom.

Sam Hicks-Jirkans

I'm a writer focusing mainly on the Cincinnati Reds and any player or set of players I find interesting. You can find me on Twitter at @sam_hicksj

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