Robinson Cano, arguably the best second baseman in baseball will be a free agent after this season. The Yankees would love to give him a long-term extension probably in the range of $22-$25 million dollars per season. Here are a few factors that the Yankees will have to face in deciding what to do with Cano:
1. Robinson Cano’s post-season average
As great as Robinson Cano has been during the regular season, the past 3 seasons he’s averaging 30 home runs, a .311 batting average, 45 doubles, 107 RBIs, and a .908 OPS (on-base plus slugging %). Those are MVP caliber numbers that play an essential role in the Yankees making it to the post season. However, once the Yankees get there, he isn’t nearly the same player. Over his post-season career, Cano is a .222 career hitter. That includes last season in which he it .075. He was 3 for 40 last post-season and had a record hitless streak of 0 for 26. He came to bat 26 times and didn’t get a hit. In his first year “carrying” the Yankees., Cano, when it mattered the most, went 0 for 26. The bottom line is that’s not a championship player. Championship players perform when they are counted on, when it matters the most. Yes he had a great 2010 post-season where he hit .343 with 4 home runs, but that was when he wasn’t “the guy” on the team. He certainly is now and if he can’t show he can carry the team to a title, I would have a very hard time investing the future of my franchise in a player that choked during crunch time.
2. Alex Rodriguez’s Contract
Alex Rodriguez is single handedly hampering the future of the New York Yankees. He’s signed for the next 5 years at $114 million dollars. That’s $24 million per season, and about 13% of what is expected to be a $189 million dollar payroll come 2014. The $24 million owed to Rodriguez is essentially dead money since he is very likely done as an everyday player. Cano is going to demand around an excess of $20 million per season, and with the money already invested in A-Rod, having over a quarter of your payroll taken up by 1 productive player is hard to swallow. If Alex Rodriguez wants to make the Yankees family happy, he retires tomorrow and saves the future of the Yankees.
3. Scott Boras
The devil himself, Scott Boras. When it comes to players in their prime, Scott Boras is like a vampire with his clients. He will suck every ounce of blood he smells in his prey, which in this case is the Yankees. Scott Boras is Robinson Cano’s agent. I can see it now, Boras saying Cano deserves $30 million per season, he’s the best second baseman who ever lived, a perennial Hall of Famer, excellent in the field. Boras will come up with an exemplary marketing plan for Cano. Obviously, Cano isn’t coming on any discount, and there’s a team out West who seems to be willing to pay $1 million for a McDonald’s value french fries. With the Los Angeles Dodgers, money is no obstacle. They are the Yankees of the early 2000s in terms of signing big name free agents. It is highly possible LA outbids the Yankees, and Boras clients almost always follow the money.
Here’s how I would approach it if I were the Yankees (they did come out today and said they have begun talks about a possible extension). I would explore a possible trade, see if I am blown away, and if I am, I pull the trigger in a heart beat. If I can’t pull off a trade, I would stick to an 8-year $176 million dollar contract. Any cent more, I’m out. The Yankees probably can’t afford to and shouldn’t over pay for a player who has yet to prove he can be a franchise championship player. The only chance Cano has of changing my mind is carrying the team to the post-season, and once they get there, pull an A-Rod from 2009 and lead the team to their 28th title. He hasn’t proven he’s capable of that yet, but he’s got one shot to prove me and all of his doubters wrong.
Follow the writer of this story on Twitter @lucasfrankel