Padres Release Robinson Cano, Select Nomar Mazara

The Padres are set to select the contract of outfielder Nomar Mazara, tweets Robert Murray of FanSided. The former Rangers top prospect-turned-journeyman inked a minor league pact with San Diego over the winter. The move comes in conjunction with the “imminent” release of floundering second baseman/designated hitter Robinson Cano, per Dennis Lin of The Athletic (Twitter link). Murray and Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported last night that Cano was likely to opt for free agency after declining to be optioned to Triple-A (as any player with five-plus years of Major League service can do). Whether he’ll be formally released or elect free agency is largely a moot point; the outcome is the same.

Mazara, now 27 years old, never developed into the perennial power-hitting threat many anticipated when he was a consensus top-100 prospect in 2015-16. He showed plenty of promise when he swatted 20 home runs as a 21-year-old rookie with the Rangers in 2016, but Mazara was essentially a league-average hitter with below-average offense for the first four years of his career in Texas.

A trade to the White Sox produced dismal results, as he hit just .228/.295/.294 in 42 games with Chicago the following season. Mazara signed with the Tigers after being non-tendered by the Sox, but he hit just .212/.276/.321 in 50 games with Detroit last season.

All in all, Mazara has been about 12% worse than league-average with the bat in his big league career, by measure of wRC+, but he’s having a monster season in Triple-A. Through his first 152 plate appearances this season, Mazara is hitting .367/.454/.641 with seven homers, 14 doubles, a huge 13.8% walk rate and a lower-than-average 19.1% strikeout rate.

Cano’s time with the Padres will prove to be brief, as he only signed with San Diego on May 13. However, the Padres’ hopes that the eight-time All-Star could right the ship following a .195/.233/.268 showing with the Mets didn’t pan out. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Cano turned in a calamitous .091/.118/.091 output in 34 plate appearances. Overall, Cano has gone 3-for-33 (all singles) with one walk and 10 strikeouts in a Padres uniform.

The swan dive in Cano’s production comes on the heels of a season-long absence in 2021 due to the second positive PED test of his 17-year Major League career. Given that context and the fact that he’ll turn 40 in October, it’s perhaps not much of a surprise that Cano has struggled in 2022, although the extent of his woes at the plate are nonetheless jarring.

Once Cano becomes a free agent, he’ll be free to sign with any club that has interest, though it’s difficult to fathom another team putting him directly on the big league roster. Should Cano wish to continue playing, he’d likely have to ink a minor league deal, but his apparent refusal to accept an assignment to Triple-A El Paso with the Padres calls into question whether he’ll be willing to go that route. The Mets still owe Cano $21.25MM for the 2023 season, while the Mariners (who originally signed him a decade-long, $240MM contract prior to the 2014 season) are kicking in $3.75MM as part of the trade that shipped him from Seattle to Queens.

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