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Inbox: Will Cano stick at second base?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers fans' questions
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

Is it time for Robinson Cano to move to first base? A second baseman might be easier to find and less expensive.
-- Clyde C., Sagle, Idaho

There will be a time when it makes sense for Cano to shift over to first, but I don't believe the Mariners feel that time is here yet, and I would think it's easier to find a quality first baseman at this point, given the relatively deep free-agent market at that position.

Is it time for Robinson Cano to move to first base? A second baseman might be easier to find and less expensive.
-- Clyde C., Sagle, Idaho

There will be a time when it makes sense for Cano to shift over to first, but I don't believe the Mariners feel that time is here yet, and I would think it's easier to find a quality first baseman at this point, given the relatively deep free-agent market at that position.

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Cano turned 35 on Sunday and has six years remaining on his contract, so it is likely he'll eventually move to a less-demanding position. At this point, when his legs are fine, Cano remains one of the better second basemen in the Majors with his ability to turn double plays, his arm strength and his range on popups. He did struggle with his range on ground balls three years ago when he was dealing with the double sports hernia and again this past season when he was battling some nagging leg soreness.

Defensive analytics aren't perfect, but they can provide some data to go along with the eye test, Cano was ninth out of 16 MLB second basemen in Defensive Runs Saved this year with a zero rating, which equates to being exactly league average in that metric. He rated fifth out of the 16 in Ultimate Zone Rating at 1.8, which puts him above league average. Just for perspective, Jose Altuve of the Astros had a DRS rating of 3 and a UZR of minus 0.4 and he's regarded as a good defender.

Video: SEA@LAA: Cano makes a slick sliding play

My perspective is that if he's fully healthy, Cano still belongs at second, where he provides an exceptional bat for that position. I think it's easier to find an offensive upgrade at first base than at second. But if or when Cano struggles with his health and the defense declines, yeah, by all means move him to first base to extend his career and keep that bat in the lineup.

With aging stars and a depleted farm system, ownership seems committed to winning now, but is a full rebuild in the near future if there's another disappointing season?
-- Blake L., Corvallis, Ore.

It's funny to talk about needing a full rebuild when only seven players who were on the 40-man roster in 2015 -- before general manager Jerry Dipoto's arrival -- are on the current 40-man. Those seven are Cano, Nelson Cruz, Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino and Tony Zych. Paxton, Seager, Zunino and Zych are all in their 20s, as are key players since added, like Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, Edwin Diaz, Mike Leake and others.

Video: Johns on Cruz, Cano each hitting homer No. 300 in '17

Since Dipoto has already been rebuilding and getting younger around the core of Cano, Cruz and Hernandez, I'm guessing your question really is whether those three will get traded. Hernandez has two years remaining on his contract and Cano has six, and both would be hard to move due to their age and money owed. Cruz would be easier to move because he only has one year at $14 million remaining, but I can't see why they'd get rid of their most productive hitter at this point.

When will we find out the new name that replaces Safeco? Any guesses on what it could be?
-- Andy R. Lacey, Wash.

Safeco's naming rights deal runs through next season and CEO John Stanton says the club has begun conversations with potential replacements, but he doesn't know yet when a new agreement might be finalized. I have zero insight as to who the team is talking with, but if we assume that Northwest-based companies would be the logical fit, then any list would seemingly be topped by the likes of Amazon, Alaska Airlines, Boeing and Microsoft.

Whatever happened to Steve Baron? He was a very high draft choice. Has Dipoto given up on him?
-- Bill B., Juneau, Alaska

Baron, who turns 27 in December, has been in the Mariners organization since being a late first-round Draft pick in 2009 as a Miami-area high schooler. He spent most of the past season in Triple-A Tacoma, posting a .256/.339/.329 line with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 54 games. But he was behind veteran Tuffy Gosewisch on the depth chart in Tacoma and got dropped down to Double-A Arkansas after Seattle acquired Mike Marjama from the Rays in early August and hit just .196 with a home run and five RBIs in 16 games there.

It's a shame that someone would vandalize the statue of Ken Griffey Jr. by stealing the bat. Any word on how long it could take for the statue to be repaired and if any new security plans are being discussed to protect it in the future?.
-- Ian L., Renton, Wash.

Lou Cella, the Chicago sculptor who created the statue, will be in Seattle this week and plans to look at the damage and recommend whether to cast and reattach a new bat or repair the dented one that was recovered by police and returned to the Mariners. The club is pondering whether security measures might be needed in the future. I've been to many ballparks around the country that have outside statues that aren't fenced or protected, so hopefully this was just one random act that won't be repeated.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano