February 20, 2013 by Matt Musico
The New York Yankees have been employing a different off-season strategy over the last couple of years, and I’m curious to find out whether or not they’ll let Robinson Cano leave via free agency next winter. MLB Trade Rumors has kept us up-to-date on the latest news regarding the situation, but it certainly doesn’t look like the Scott Boras client is willing to give a hometown discount to the Bronx Bombers. It’s tough to blame him, especially after watching New York give Alex Rodriguez a 10-year/$275 million deal heading into his age-32 season.
Since the minute he stepped foot on a Major League field in 2005, we all know he had the potential to be a special player, but he’s taken his game to another level after what was considered a down season in 2008. After hitting .271/.305/.410 with 14 homers and 72 RBI in the last season of the Old Yankee Stadium, Cano has quickly become not only the best all-around player on his team, but the best second baseman in the game.
He’s enjoyed a .300+ batting average each year since 2009, while not hitting less than 25 homers or driving in fewer than 85 runs during that span of time either. Since 2010, he’s been in the top-6 of AL MVP voting, has gone to three straight All-Star games, has taken home three consecutive Silver Sluggers, and won two Gold Gloves. That’s a pretty good resume.
What’s going to make this hard is Cano’s agent, Scott Boras. He doesn’t even need to make a binder outlining all of his client’s accomplishments thus far in his career, all you need to do is look at his mantle full of awards and honors.
The Yankees have been burned a couple times by lucrative, long-term deals, and rumor has it they’ve shared with the Boras corporation they’re willing to give his client approximately seven years for about $171 million. However, Boras says bidding should be opening at 10-years and $200 million.
The goal of the organization for 2014 has been to not pay a luxury tax by getting their team payroll under the $189 million threshold, but the impending contract negotiations of Cano could throw a wrench into that plan, especially if he reaches free agency and they get reckless to retain him. Although it’s normally against team policy to negotiate an extension before a current contract is up, it would be behoove them to do so with their second baseman, in an effort to get the most affordable deal possible.
At the end of the day, it would be foolish for any team to award a $200+ million contract to a 30-year-old ballplayer, but if he reaches the open market, there will be a few teams out there willing to take those bad years in his late 30s for some immediately good years (cough, Dodgers, cough). So, if the Yankees want to play the game and dare Boras to find a better deal than what they have, I’m sure he will.
If these were the days of the George Steinbrenner owned Yankees, this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion; Cano would be in pinstripes for the rest of the decade. However, with his sons at the helm now, I’m not as confident the Yankees will be…the Yankees. It was weird watching the Pirates outbid New York and take Russell Martin from their grasp this winter, and it could get even more weird if a team is able to snatch a superstar from their hands. Historically, it’s always been the Yankees outbidding everyone for a superstar, and now the tides have turned. We’re used to watching the Mets wave goodbye to homegrown talent because they’re not willing to pay the price, not the team across town.
I don’t think New York should award Robinson Cano more than the seven years outlined in the MLB Trade Rumors article from yesterday, but if they really want him to stay in the Bronx, it looks like they’re going to have to, especially if he has another season like the last three have gone. There’s still hope, but if I were a Yankee fan, I’d start preparing for life after Robby Cano.
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