New York Yankees Editorial: Amid second base struggles, were the Yankees wise to let Robinson Cano walk?


The New York Yankees are currently in Seattle facing former Yankee star second baseman Robinson Cano and the Mariners.  Following the 2013 season, Cano chose to sign a ten-year, $240-million contract with the Mariners, rather than accepting the Yankees offer of seven-years, $175-million.  For the second straight season, the Yankees have gotten very little production from the position, but was it the wise decision to allow the six-time All-Star to walk in free agency?

From 2009-2013, Cano was as consistent as they come, posting a slash of .314/.369/.530, while averaging 196 hits, 99 runs, 28 home runs, and 103 RBI’s across 160 games per season while playing superb defense and becoming the premier second baseman in baseball.

While Cano is struggling this season, posting a slash of only .249/.291/.337 with just two home runs and 17 RBI’s entering Wednesday, he is still outperforming Stephen Drew‘s slash of .168/.236/.331.  Although Cano is 32, it would be foolish to say he is no longer the player he has been throughout his career, as the calendar has just reached June, and he has plenty of time to turn it around.

Cano may be struggling this year, but a year ago, he finished fifth in AL MVP voting.  In the two years since Cano’s departure, the Yankees have had eight second basemen, who have hit a combined .214/.267/.341.  Even with the awful production from Yankees second basemen, the team does have two young players with bright futures at the position in Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder.

Offering Cano a contract that would carry into his 40’s, costing the team over $20-million annually, simply was not the right decision.  Cano’s slow start may not be the beginning of his decline, but it is further proof that offering players north of 30 long-term deals no longer works for teams.

The Yankees could have offered Cano the same deal that the Mariners did, but after a 2013 season when they got little-to-no production from their big contract guys (CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez), they wisely declined to repeat their mistake.

The Yankees offer was one that would have taken Cano through his age-37 season, and could have been justifiable for a player who surely would have went down as the greatest second baseman in Yankees history, and ended up as the first Dominican-born player to end up in Monument Park.  Cano is a great player, who could someday end up in the Hall of Fame, and likely would have been the difference between the postseason a year ago, but at age-40, he surely will not be worth the $24-million he is owed.

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