The Yankees have been talking about a $189 million budget for over a year now and throughout that entire time it has been a given that they would eventually re-sign Robinson Cano despite the budget.
However, it’s becoming more and more obvious that Cano is going to be looking for one of the largest contracts in baseball history and considering he is going to be 31 when he hits free agency it’s is becoming more and more likely that he skips town a year from now.
According to two industry sources familiar with Cano’s situation, the Yankees’ Gold Glove second baseman may very well bolt the Bronx once he becomes a free agent.
“I don’t think he’ll be with the Yankees beyond next season,” one of the sources told the Daily News. “He’s not giving them a hometown discount, and they seem to be more interested in keeping their payroll down than winning.”
Although Cano, who attended the celebrity golf tournament sponsored by David Ortiz this weekend at the Dominican Cap Cana resort, told the Daily News that he would “love” to remain a Yankee for life, he also added: “I know this is a business. . . . It’s up to them…”
…Another baseball source suggested that Cano will seek a deal similar to A-Rod’s, one that has become an albatross for the Bombers, who might be hesitant to tie up that much money and that many years in Cano, 30.
“He knows he’s the best player on the Yankees,” the second source said of Cano. “There’s no reason for him not to be paid that way.”
If we’ve found out anything this offseason it is that the Yankees are very serious with their budget. They also have two decent second base prospects coming up through the system that should both be ready by 2014 in David Adams and Corban Joseph. They absolutely could afford to give Cano $25 million a year, but that will kill their financial flexibility and would just add another Alex Rodriguez type contract to the books that will eventually be just as big an albatross.
Expect the Yankees to try to retain Cano, but they’ll be patient about it. They’ll probably encourage him to test the market, have him see what else is out there, and then, if they’re comfortable with how the market develops, make a strong, competitive offer. There will be a line drawn though and if he passes it he’s probably as good as gone.
That strategy, while hard for a fan base to accept, has worked out quite well for teams. The Seattle Mariners watched A-Rod sign a $252 million deal after the 2000 season and won 116 games the next year. Then there was last year’s St. Louis Cardinals who watched Albert Pujols bolt for a big deal only to replace him with effective short term deals on players like Carlos Beltran and receive similar production without the extreme risks of a long term deal.
The problem is that these deals only help teams for a limited amount of time. Eight year contracts or longer are just too long for a player to live up to. For the first couple of years a team has an incredible slugger that can carry a team, but by the end of the deal it can be crippling and kill a teams financial flexibility. If you don’t win a World Series early on it just isn’t worth it.
The Yankees have enough money that they can hand out deals like this, but they already have two on the book in A-Rod’s deal and Mark Teixeira‘s $180 million deal. Maybe if A-Rod didn’t have five years left on his pact and Teixeira four more on his then they could reconsider. But it’s just too risky for the Yankees as they could be hurt by three major contracts at once and if you thought the budget was restrictive now it’ll be crazy then.
The Yankees would love to keep Cano, and there is still a decent chance that they will, but more than ever it seems like he’s on his way out of the Bronx.