The real story of this offseason for the Yankees has been their pursuit of a more flexible payroll for the future. It seems that every move made or not made by the Yankees for 2013 has been impacted by their goal of reducing their payroll to $189 million by 2014. It sets the stage for this question…
How does this affect their all-star second baseman Robinson Cano and his future with the team?
Cano is due to make $15 million in the final year of his contract in 2013; he will then test free agency for the first time. He’s 30-years-old, in the prime of his career, and most importantly he’s well aware that he’s in position to get paid. If Cano isn’t aware of this then I’m sure his agent Scott Boras has reminded him. Reportedly Cano will be looking for a contract similar to the one Alex Rodriguez secured from the Yankees. If that’s the case then 2013 could be very well be Cano’s last year in the Bronx.
The Yankees went down this road before in 2007 for Rodriguez with Boras involved as the agent. Rodriguez managed to get a 10-year, $275 million deal out of the contract talks. That contract has now become an albatross for the Yankees as Rodriguez is older, clearly on an offensive decline, and facing another yet another comeback from a serious injury. It’s hindered whatever flexibility the Yankees do have currently with their spending and has to be on the back of their minds as Cano’s contract status gets closer. Is this a road they really want to travel again?
If the Yankees let Cano walk as a free agent, they lose arguably the best second baseman in the game today and the best player on their team. Cano is also a homegrown Yankee and that’s something that separates his situation from Rodriguez. However, can the Yankees really be faulted for not giving him A-Rod money to avoid making that same mistake twice in less than a decade? At what point does logic step in where emotion leaves off?
The fact of the matter with this Yankees team is that although the mission statement to win remains the same, the philosophy has changed. They are determined to be more efficient in their spending, even if it means not getting caught up in the temptation that comes with the free agent market.
Cano can make this very difficult for the Yankees if he puts up huge numbers in 2013. He can make it nearly impossible for them to let him walk if he leads them into and through the playoffs. If that happens, I’d expect that Scott Boras will expect nothing short of the world for his client and the Yankees will be hard-pressed to say no and walk away from the bargaining table.
I like the idea of Cano being a Yankee for life, if anyone is to take the changing of the guard once Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are done then the case can be made that it should be him. However, I also know the business aspect that comes with all of this. I think the Yankees should be applauded for the awareness they are showing now with their finances. It’s a sharp contrast from the past when they made it seem as if money was never an issue for them.
For the Yankees, re-signing Cano would solidify him as the face of their franchise for years to come. That’s a big commitment to make and it has pros and cons to it. It might be best to look at all of this from the perspective that money has to be spent in order for it to be made. When the Yankees re-signed Rodriguez, the case can be made that it was more about capitalizing off his chase for the all-time home run record as much as it was him being the best in the game. I couldn’t imagine Jeter reaching the 3,000 career hits mark in another uniform besides the Yankee pinstripes, and I don’t think the Yankees could either.
My gut is telling me that Cano won’t see a 10-year $275 million deal from the Yankees or any other team for that matter, however he’s going to see something as close to it as reasonably possible. The Yankees are going out of their way to cut costs for 2014 and beyond, however if they are looking for the next face of their franchise then Cano should be given strong consideration next winter when it’s time to make a deal. If the Yankees decide not to re-sign Cano, then it could go down as the biggest statement they have made to date about their new found approach to spending.