The San Diego Padres announced on Friday that they had signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a minor-league deal. The agreement comes just a week after the Padres had released Canó following a poor 12-game stretch. It should be noted that the Padres had reportedly asked Canó to head to the minors. He rejected that request, however, and decided instead to test free agency. It appears that he did not find a better situation.
Canó, 39 years old, has played in 24 games this season overall, splitting those contests between the Padres and the New York Mets. he’s batted .149/.182/.189 (8 OPS+) with one home run and no other extra-base hits. He’s also struck out 21 times versus drawing just three base on balls.
Canó missed the entirety of the 2021 season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time in his career. The last time he had played, back in 2020, he remained a productive hitter. Indeed, he hit .316/.352/.544 (143 OPS+) with 10 home runs in 49 games as part of the pandemic-shortened season.
It appears that some combination of rust and Father Time hampered Canó’s chances of regaining his old form. His average exit velocity this season is, to date, more than three miles per hour slower than it was in 2020. His maximum exit velocity, a gauge of raw strength and bat speed, is down five ticks. He’s also whiffing more often, and hitting more balls into the dirt, suggesting his barrel control has deteriorated.
Nevertheless, the Padres have little to lose by sending Canó to Triple-A and giving him an opportunity to get on track. The worst-case scenario is that he doesn’t perform much, if any better and that they have to release him again.