It's a gamble whenever a team signs a player to a long contract, and analysts and fans endlessly debate whether such a deal is wise when the player's age, injuries or lack of motivation can curtail production and weigh down an entire franchise.
Robinson Cano reportedly spurned a seven-year contract offer with the New York Yankees to sign instead for a decade with the Seattle Mariners, but in only his second year out West, his numbers started to dwindle.
Cano hit .287 with a .779 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2015, his worst marks in six years.
A deeper look at the numbers shows it wasn't a steady, inevitable decline. In fact, Cano’s very underwhelming 2015 was caused by a horrid first half. At the All-Star break in 2015, Cano was sporting a .251 batting average with only six home runs -- both his worst numbers in those areas since 2008. But Cano turned it around, hitting .331 in the second half of the season.
The best news for Mariners fans is that Cano also seems to have fully recovered from offseason sports hernia surgery. The Dominican player, who was named after Jackie Robinson, has been swinging a big bat in spring training.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, Cano has hit seven homers so far. The second baseman hit three on Sunday, and he’s never hit three home runs in a single game in his career (regular or postseason). His batting average in spring training is .388.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) March 29, 2016
Of course those games and stats don't count, but it should give Mariners fans a lot of hope that Cano is ready to put last season's poor first half behind him in a big way.