Yankees and Cano nowhere near a deal and why that might not be so bad

Robinson+Cano

Robinson Cano is clearly the Yankees best offensive player, but he’s a free agent at the end of this season and will no doubt demand huge figures in contract talks this offseason so his inclusion on the 2014 is far from guaranteed.

The Yankees so badly want to keep Cano that they have been willing to break their own unwritten rule that they don’t negotiate with players until their contract is up. They offered him what they termed a “significant offer” last offseason, but with Scott Boras as his agent, talks with Cano didn’t go anywhere then. Since then Cano has fired Boras, but negotiations, which are on-going, haven’t progressed any further.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Yankees and Cano are nowhere near a deal at this point. Though, Heyman did say that they could resume serious negotiations after the All-Star break.

Heyman suggests that Cano could be looking for a deal for as much as Alex Rodriguez‘s $275 million deal, but the Yankees see Cano in more of a David Wright $138 million, eight-year zone. That’s a significant gap and if one side doesn’t make a major concession it seems likely that Cano will indeed hit the open market this offseason.

Despite the fact that Cano is the Yankees best offensive player, by a lot, signing him to a huge deal has many obvious risks. The biggest is A-Rod himself. That contract did give them the 2009 World Series, but it has severely hampered the Yankees since. They will definitely not go to 10 years and probably shouldn’t even go to seven or eight considering Cano will be 31-years-old next year.

Then there is Cano’s struggles against lefties. He might be their best offensive player, but he might not be the complete player that a team should consider for a $200 mega-deal. Since the beginning of 2012, he has hit just .236/.303/.347 in 389 plate appearances against southpaws. He does so many other things well that it’s easy to overlook this, but a team could simply stack themselves with lefties in the bullpen to render him useless and come playoff time that could be devastating.

Speaking of playoffs, that could be another reason to be hesitant to re-sign Cano to a mega-deal. Much like his buddy A-Rod, Cano struggles in the playoffs. In 51 career games, he has a .222/.267/.419 line. Like A-Rod, Cano has the potential to carry the Yankees to a World Champion all by himself, but like A-Rod it might take three or four crappy years to get to that.

I doubt that the Yankees will be able to successfully hold out for Wright-money, but they should try. For one thing, Wright has been a slightly better hitter throughout his career. Cano has been a picture of health throughout his career, but that was in the past. Cano is on the wrong side of 30 now and second base has always been a position where guys break down fast.

Even if Cano can’t get A-Rod money, his agent will correctly point to the contracts of Prince Fielder and Joey Votto and demand at least $200 million. It’s still possible that both of those players are better than Cano, but his agents will argue that he’s a bigger star than either of those two (although that certainly could be argued), and New York City is a town that loves stars. All you have to do is look at the Yankees attendance and YES Network’s ratings to see that.

If Cano did sign elsewhere he would leave behind a gigantic crater in the lineup though so the Yankees are handcuffed to a point. They have a couple of prospects in David Adams and Corban Joseph to at least attempt to replace him, but neither are elite prospects in any sense. Putting them out there could be a tough sell to Yankees fans who might end up skipping a trip to the ballpark and tuning out of the YES Network as a result.

The one final thing to consider is the upcoming $189 million budget. The Yankees are somewhere near the $230 mark right now with all of their commitments. They have some money coming off the books this offseason to help with that, but adding a contract with an average annual value near or beyond $25 million will hamper their efforts. If they re-sign Cano they might have to cut back at multiple other positions including their pitching staff, which has been a strength this year.

The Yankees could figure out a way to trade Cano in the next month. After all, they would like get at least one elite, close to major-league-ready prospect in exchange and they wouldn’t have to worry about signing him or not signing him. The problem is that the Yankees just don’t do that. They are under pressure to win every year and, as bad as this year’s team has been, they are still well within the mix for a playoff spot. Unless it also helps them this year as well, highly unlikely, they are going to be under a lot of pressure to just keep him and work out a deal.

My guess is that a trade is highly unlikely. In reality, the Yankees will probably re-sign him this offseason. My guess is that it will be for at least what Mark Teixeira got — $180 million over eight years. Whether or not that will be a smart or stupid move…time will tell.

Photo credit: (June 19, 2013 – Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America).

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8 Responses to Yankees and Cano nowhere near a deal and why that might not be so bad

  1. wally says:

    Nice post.
    What people rarely discuss with the Cano situation is what the Yankees could do with $25 million a year over the next seven or eight years if they DO NOT sign Cano. As time goes by, I grow more and more convinced the Yanks would be better off investing the money elsewhere. The lefty problems, the post-season failures, the chance that somehow Robbie might still be drawn into the PED scandal (perhaps a slim chance, but not negligible) all suggest Yanks should pass on a giant deal. Sure, 6 years at $18 or $20 million a year would be great– but it won't happen.
    Hal Steinbrenner has not shown that he has the cojones to run this franchise. His father was a risk-taker and a builder. Hal is a super-cautious caretaker. What he needs to do is make a decision now. And IMO it involves trading Cano this year. Some contender will pay big to add him to their lineup. And then Hal must plan how to reinvest that $25 million a year in pieces that will rebuild this franchise. Of course, if he decides to just pocket the savings, we really do have to pray for a new owner.

    • patrick says:

      totally agree! i think that we need to trade him and get one elite player and a solid prospect that could come in next year. With the old age of our team we are not going to have a deep run this year so lets start the rebuilding process!

  2. wally says:

    One more reason to pass on Cano. I do think the Crawford, Pujols and Hamilton contracts are going to finally make teams reconsider long-term deals to older players. Cano may be disappointed in what he finds on the open market. And even if he does sucker someone into a eight or ten year deal, I think that will represent the peak and prices will come down for older players, at least. So Yanks may find better market values beginning in 2015.

  3. olie says:

    There is nothing wrong with Cano and as by far the Yanks best talent he deserves to be paid like it. His problem is the lack of talent surrounding him. Gardner and Nix in front of him and retreads behind him. ( Very good players with there best days past!) The yanks are lucky to have him cause talent like his does not come around often, as you can see if you look at the rest of the roster

    • But how long until we start calling Cano a retread? Or until his contract is the albatross that A-Rod's and Teixeira's are? 3 years after he signs he'll be 34. 5 years after he signs he'll be 36. What happens if he is a shell of himself by 36 and he still has 5 years and $125 million left on his deal?

    • patrick says:

      and he is already 31 plus he is the type of player that relies a lot on pure talent, he hardly ever hussles and thats what you need when youget a little older and your talent starts to go away!

  4. brian says:

    Rob, you could argue that the lacking ratings and attendance will work AGAINST Cano… not for him…

    The Yankees could argue to Cano and his agent, perhaps correctly… that while Robbie may have the talent and the 'career war' to be the obvious successor to Jeter as the face of the franchise.. he simply doesn't have the same "star power" that Jeter, or Arod have… in fact, the yankees already hinted at this

    Now, we can debate whether this is tied to postseason failures, lack of hustle, vague ties to PED use… or just the fact that a lot of fans simply don't like Cano.. the point is, when you're tossing 200 million around, it better be for a guy whom the fans can embrace and support even as he declines

  5. Tanned Tom says:

    First there is no way Cano signs during the season unless he comes to his senses and takes the Yankees offer. Second, unless some GM goes nuts, there'll be no way they can get enough to justify trading him.
    The club will make him the qualifying offer, and then lets leak the terms of their multi-year offer, probably something like 5 year at $20mil per. I can see the club giving in on money or years, but not both. A 10 year deal is absurd and so is anything much above $20 mil per, he simply isn't worth it.
    Remember, not only do middle infielders pretty pack it in by 35, Cano is talking about being paid like an in his prime Pujols. And of course as others have noted, that $25 mil will go along way to remaking this team with younger more athletic players, instead of sinking it all into one, overrated player.