[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If Robinson Cano needs some perspective, all he needs to do is pick up the phone and call Michael Cuddyer. After the 2015 season, Cuddyer retired. It wouldn’t have been so memorable if it weren’t for the circumstances surrounding his decision.

Cuddyer was 36 years old and playing for the New York Mets. The team was coming off a World Series appearance and were positioned to make another run deep into October the next season. More importantly, Cuddyer had $10.5 million remaining on his deal — guaranteed.

All he had to do was show up at Spring Training. Play some games. Pinch hit on occasion. Go through the motions. Collect the Benjamins and hang’em up.

If Cuddyer made that decision, he wouldn’t be the first. But, he didn’t. That’s not who Michael Cuddyer is.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to give what I expect myself to give out on the field,” he told the media. “I take a lot of pride in playing the game the right way, and playing the game the way that I know I was capable of playing. I didn’t feel like I could bring that anymore. And with great humility, I made the decision.”

Instead he made his decision to forfeit the remaining due on his contract and retire. He published his thoughts in a letter for The Players’ Tribune.

I’ve made the decision to retire. With one year left on my contract, it is especially difficult to imagine not suiting up in a Mets uniform for one more year. As an athlete, retiring is the toughest decision you have to make and I don’t make it lightly … It goes against every grain in my body to consider a future without the game. But after 15 years, the toll on my body has finally caught up to me.

Ever since I was a kid, my mantra has been, “Play hard, dream big.” But I’ve always believed in loyalty to the game itself: the day that I can’t give it 100 percent is the day I have to walk away. Now that the day has come, it’s harder than I thought it would be.

Over the last four years, I was on the disabled list six times. I missed 150-200 games over that time span … I pushed through it. Mentally, I was able to overcome it for a long time, but the physical and emotional taxation took its toll. 

Finally, thank you to the game of baseball. I was one of the lucky ones who got to play the game for a living … I never played for money or fame, but you showered me with both. I played baseball the way I did because I knew one day it would be over. Today’s that day. I hope you know that physically, mentally and emotionally, I gave you everything I had.

Cuddyer could see the writing on the wall. His replacement — Michael Conforto — had already taken over. Injuries were taking a toll. He was no longer the same Michael Cuddyer at the plate, going 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts in the postseason. During the World Series, Cuddyer watched from the bench.

Cano’ s circumstances are not that different than Cuddyer. He doesn’t need a dime of the remainder of his deal. He has earned over $200 million over his 17 year career. If he’s hoping he can reach the 3,000 hit mark, good luck. He is 371 hits short. He is 39 years old and no team is going take on his contract, then add another year to help him attain a personal record.

At the moment, Cano is complete control of his future. He needs a clear exit strategy, fast. Monday is the deadline for MLB teams to reduce their rosters to 26. That puts Cano (and his .181 average) in a tenuous position.

How will he want to play it? There’s only two options: Preempt the Mets before they make a decision for him or begrudgingly play it out and selfishly hold out for the paycheck.

Cano owes it to his family, his teammates, the franchise and the fans to make a decision on his immediate plan.

The clock is ticking.

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About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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