(Swag. Courtesy of MLB.com)
The future of Robinson Cano in pinstripes has become an increasingly popular and important topic of discussion over the past few months, both in terms of what kind of deal he could get and how the Yankees' efforts to re-sign him will impact their goals of getting below the $189 million payroll limit for 2014. That discussion has become even louder in the last day or so as the Rangers' recent re-signing of Ian Kinsler, combined with similar re-up deals for Brandon Phillips and Dan Uggla, has established a baseline for the numbers. 2 posts yesterday, one from Mike Axisa of RAB and another from Eric Schultz of TYA covered the current situation about as well as I could ever hope to, so rather than try to craft something as well put together as they did, I'll just put my Peter King hat on and offer up some of my own thought on the matter and what I think can, should, and will happen.
- I think the Yankees would be wise to bring Cano back, as he will still be the best hitter in the lineup and in his prime after his contract expires in 2013. He also represents the best option available for them at 2nd as the next best external replacement candidates have all been locked up, and the 2 best internal replacement candidates, Corban Joseph and David Adams, have major question marks attached to them as viable everyday players at the Major League level.
- I think the smartest business decision for the Yankees to make would be to follow the path set by the Rangers, Reds, and Braves and re-negotiate a new deal with Cano now before he gets to free agency. 5 years/$85-90 mil would be fair and take Cano right up to his early-to-mid 30s, where 2nd basemen usually start to drop off.
- I think the next smartest decision for them to make, if they don't break their traditional "no new deal talks" rule, would be to offer Cano a new contract that is shorter on years and bigger on dollars to avoid getting stuck in another cumbersome contract with an infielder as he heads into his decline years.
- I think, in either case, the Yankees won't have to worry about Cano becoming a defensive liability because his skill set will allow him to transition smoothly to 3rd base, and by the time that transition needs to happen, A-Rod will have long been put out to permanent DH pasture.
- I think that Cano has no desire to go down either of those paths, and wouldn't have teamed up with Scott Boras if he didn't want to hit the open market and get the biggest deal possible.
- While I believe Cano is the clear cut best all-around 2nd baseman in baseball, I think this chart:
(Click to enlarge)
helps strengthen the Yankees' case for not having to pay him a premium big-year/$20-22 million contract that he might get on the open market because it does show that the gap between Cano and the other top 2nd basemen in the game is not that big. If Kinsler is getting $14-15 mil, the case can be made that Cano is worth $17-18 mil.
- That being said, I think this chart:
(Click to enlarge)
helps strengthen Cano's position in the open market and will be Boras' major talking point in discussing a new deal as it paints a convincing picture of just how good Cano is and presents the added value he brings to the table by not being an injury risk and being someone who can be counted on to play 150-155+ games each and every year.
- I think if bonus clauses were negotiated into Cano's next deal based on swag, he would become far too rich for anybody's blood except the Yankees.
- I think the tactic the Yankees choose to take with Cano, and how aggressive they are in their pursuit, could ultimately end up being determined by Curtis Granderson and how serious the Yankees are about bringing him back as well after the 2013 season.
Wondering about the future of high-profile players is nothing new for Yankee fans or the blogopshere. There's still plenty of time before this becomes a real hot button issue, but due to the future budget goals it is something worth talking about now. In the end I think Cano will end up being a Yankee for life. Hopefully the next contract isn't as detrimental to the payroll and team plans as the last few for other Yankee infielders has been.