It’s inevitable that Robinson Cano will be either extended or re-signed by the Yankees within the next year or so. The Yankees will certainly exercise Cano’s option for 2013 worth $15 million. This means that in 2014, Cano will be a free agent who is able to test all possible offers. The thing is no other team is going to be in the running for the best second basemen in baseball. No other team will be willing to give him the years and money he and his agent Scott Boras are asking for. Essentially, the Yankees will be bidding against themselves. If the front office realizes that, they’ll save some money toward the $189 million goal.
If by some odd circumstance a team is actually competing with the Yankees for Cano, Yanks General Manager Brian Cashman should break the bank like they did with Alex Rodriguez in 2007. (Only that time was an example of the Yankees bidding against themselves.) Letting Cano walk is not an option. The team is not going to find a better use of that money on any other player. Cano has been the team’s best player since 2010 and is an elite hitter in the league. Letting him walk away would be unjustified in the eyes of many Yankee fans.
So how long and how much should the Yankees re-sign Cano for? Well it seems that anything north of seven years and $180 million would make the most sense. The Yankees should be wary of handing out a 10-year deal to Cano. He’s now 30 years old and the team does not want another Rodriguez-esque contract on their hands. I don’t want to imagine a struggling 37-year-old Cano with three years left on his contract. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if New York gave Cano 10 years. The front office is attempting to become more disciplined with the contracts they hand out, but Cano isn’t an ordinary player. The Yankees struggle when bidding against themselves so that’s how it might play out.
Both sides are going to get what they want. Cano is going to get a long and lucrative contract, while the Yankees will re-sign one of the elite players in the game. It’s just a matter of how well Cano plays for the 7-10 years he’s in pinstripes.
Historically, second basemen either drop off after they turn 32 years old or they switch positions. If needed, Cano could possibly make the move to first base. By 2017 Mark Teixeira would be gone and Cano would be 34 years old. Cano’s defense relies on his baseball instincts and natural ability. With age these skills could diminish, making the switch to first inevitable. His lack of agility and quickness is a reason as to why he’s not an elite defensive second basemen already. I still feel Cano can hit at a high level throughout majority of the contract. If Cano’s skill of hitting for average and power stay with him through the later years of his career, first base would be an excellent fit for him. For a guy who’s known for his bat I don’t expect the opposite regression to happen.
A starting point of $180 million over seven years would be good as I stated above. Over that amount of the contract Cano would earn an average of nearly $26 million per year over that time. This past season Cano earned $14 million while producing $35.3 million in value according to FanGraphs. Over the past three years Cano has been the Yankees best player and he’s produced no less than $25.4 million in value in any of those seasons. From 2010 through 2012 Cano’s salary has been $9 million, 10 million and $14 million respectively. He’s drastically outplayed his contract by $53.9 million in value from 2010-2012.
Assuming that he’ll put up similar value ($25.4 million per season) in four of his seven years on the contract I suggested above, he would be closely paid to what he’d actually be earning. Then it’s only natural to assume regression in the final three years of his contract so the Yankees will likely be paying him more than he’s actually worth. That said, I don’t think Cano will regress terribly at the plate to the point where it affects how the entirety of the contract is viewed as it is ending. In the end, the Yankees should be able to call the re-signing of Cano a success because in my estimation he’ll likely bring more value to the team than what he will be paid.