Rafael Palmeiro (3,020 hits, 569 home runs) fell off the ballot in 2014 when his support dipped below 5 percent. Manny Ramirez (2,574 hits, 555 homers) made his debut with 23.8 percent in January 2017, and fell to 22 percent this year. Candidates need 75 percent of the votes for election.
This spring, at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Ariz., Cano spoke about his chances for the Hall of Fame. He has 2,417 hits, 305 homers and a .304 average in his 14-year career.
“I’m focused more on having six more years left on the contract, and in those six years, I still want to be able to play second base,” he said. “I focus more on year by year. I mean, maybe in the next four years I might be sitting down and saying, ‘You know what, maybe I have a chance now.’ But I’m still at, what, 2,200 or 2,300 hits? You’ve still got to keep adding numbers. Gary Sheffield has 500 home runs, and he’s not even in. So I don’t know what it takes to make it to the Hall of Fame.”
It would seem to make sense for teams to have the option of voiding the remainder of a player’s contract after he violates the drug agreement. But while Cano will not be paid during his suspension, the rest of his 10-year, $240 million contract is guaranteed. He will have plenty of time to keep compiling numbers, but there’s another benefit to the length of his contract.
It runs through 2023, the year he turns 41. If he retires at the end of it, he would not appear on the ballot until December 2028. Voters need 10 years in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to be eligible to cast a ballot, so some who will judge Cano have not yet participated in the process. If they take a sympathetic view of him — and if existing voters’ attitudes change — Cano could still have some hope, however bleak, of election.
A Flap Too Far
When he stepped into a minor league batter’s box on May 1, Mark Reynolds learned a lesson in status. Except for a brief appearance a few years ago on a rehabilitation assignment, Reynolds had taken more than 5,000 major league plate appearances since his last stint as a farmhand. But now he was playing for the Syracuse Sky Chiefs, the Class AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, after failing to land a job despite hitting 30 home runs for the Colorado Rockies last season.
The game was in Allentown, Pa. — home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs — and Reynolds had gone there from extended spring training in Florida, taking his equipment with him. That meant he was using a helmet with only one earflap (the one facing the pitcher), as nearly every major leaguer does. This prompted a question from the umpire: “Are you on a big-league rehab?”