Montreal Expos: Jose Canseco was the power source they needed

The Montreal Expos invited Jose Canseco to spring training in 2002 and ultimately released him prior to the season. His power could have been a huge lift to the lineup.

The Montreal Expos were in search of another power bat to put in the lineup to protect Vladimir Guerrero. Jose Canseco was in search of a paycheck as well as getting closer to 500 career home runs.

The two found one another in the offseason prior to the 2002 season and agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If he made the team, this would be the first National League franchise the 36-year-old Canseco would have played for.

An outfielder early in his career and founding member of the 40-home run/40 stolen base club, Canseco had slowed in recent years and seen his defensive range decrease. He was better suited for the American League where the designated hitter role would hide his defensive deficiencies.

Canseco hadn’t played a full season since the 151 games he played in 1998 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He did earn a trip to the All-Star game the following year with Tampa Bay, but he played the field for only six games, suiting up at DH the rest of the time.

Canseco made it to the final week of spring training before being cut loose by the Expos.

The Expos entered the year with Troy O’Leary as the left fielder and Lee Stevens and Wil Cordero the big bats off the bench. O’Leary hit a respectable .286 but only hit three home runs. Stevens hit .190 with limited power as well and Cordero hit just six home runs.

The Expos were in the wild card hunt deep into the season though folded late. Had they kept on with the Jose Canseco experiment they would have had a power source for eight innings, removing him for a defensive replacement late, or bringing him off the bench to pinch-hit late. Canseco had a good eye at the plate, drawing a lot of walks even late in his career. He would have been on base for Guerrero to drive in, or would have hit behind Guerrero, allowing Vladimir to get better pitches to hit.

Canseco never appeared on a major league roster after that point and the Montreal Expos ceased to exist three years later.