Robinson Cano’s second drug suspension from Major League Baseball on Wednesday may have cost him any shot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and millions of dollars in memorabilia sales, two of the top members of that industry told Sportico.
“Over a 20-year period, it’ll cost him over $5 million,” said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions in New Jersey. “But he may not care.”
As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned:
“Even with the one time getting caught, people question that,” said Brandon Steiner, chief executive of The Steiner Agency and CollectibleXchange. “He’s already gotten caught, which takes him out of the Hall of Fame. But with the second time that just puts a fork in you.”
MLB announced Wednesday that the New York Mets second baseman had been suspended under the MLB Joint Drug Policy after testing positive for stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug. The second offense carries a 162-game suspension and loss of pay, which amounts to $24 million under the terms of his 10-year, $240 million contract.
The Mets are still liable for the final two years of the deal and $48 million for 2022-23.
Cano was first suspended on May 15, 2018, for 80 games when he tested positive for furosemide, a diuretic, as a member of the Seattle Mariners. He was traded to the Mets after that season.
Goldin said the first drug suspension had a profound effect on Cano’s memorabilia sales.
“A Cano rookie bat in good shape before his first test could have brought $4,000,” Goldin said. “After that, it dropped to $1,500. Since then, as he’s had a more productive career, it could have gone back to about half [the original price]. But now it’s going to be an all-time low. It’s horrible. It’s horrible. I feel bad for anyone who’s holding his stuff.”
Cano is years away anyway from consideration for the Hall of Fame. He’s 38 and a 16-year veteran. He won’t be eligible for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot until five years after his retirement. So, even if his career ended at the end of his current contract, he’s looking at 2029 at the earliest.
“He’s a nice guy. Good for him, he’s made a lot of money,” Steiner said. “But there’s not going to be a lot of marketers jumping off the bandwagon because there was not a lot there to begin with. I just don’t know if there’s much left for him off the field.”
In comparison, other players to be suspended for failed drug tests have not done well in the BBWAA voting.
Rafael Palmeiro, despite 3,020 career hits and 569 homers, failed a test in 2005, his final season, and lasted four years on the ballot until accruing just 4.4% of the vote in 2014. Any player who falls below 5% is stricken forever from the BBWAA ballot.
Manny Ramirez, with 550 homers and 1,831 RBIs, failed two tests. He’s in his fifth year on the ballot, which was just released Monday, and so far hasn’t gone beyond 28.2%.
Any electee has to appear on at least 75% of the ballots. Each candidate has the opportunity to remain on the ballot for 10 years.
Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for a season after a non-analytical finding that he used PEDs, will appear on the ballot for the first time next year.
“If Rafael Palmeiro had never tested positive and [had gotten into] the Hall of Fame, he could easily have been making between $250,000 and $400,000 a year for the rest of his life, as opposed to what I’m guessing now is about $75,000 a year,” Goldin said.
Cano made the choice of contract over endorsements when he left the New York Yankees to sign the 10-year-deal with the Mariners after the 2013 season, Steiner said. At the time, the Yankees offered a shorter deal that would have netted Cano more money per season. He opted instead for the length and about $50 million more, leaving for Seattle where his numbers and visibility were never the same.
“First of all, he left the Yankees. You just don’t do that,” said Steiner, who has represented Cano on memorabilia sales. “Frankly, I don’t think he’s reset on the field or reset off the field. I know the Yankees were going to pony up a lot of money, but they weren’t going to give him $250 million.
“If you’re Robinson Cano, you stay there and you take the $50 million less. You’re eventually going out in the Monument Park, baby. And you’re one of the stars of the New York Yankees. That’s the gift that keeps on giving. Forever. You walk away from that and obviously you don’t care too much about endorsements off the field.”