Robinson Cano has proven that he’s a productive player in Major League Baseball. In fact, no other second baseman in MLB can match his offensive numbers.
But is Robinson Cano really worth over $300 million?
Cano has spent his entire career wearing the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. On Thursday, Cano played in his final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium. It well could be the final game he played there as a Yankee as well.
According to the New York Daily News, the Yankees have already offered Cano two deals, the first for eight years and $138 million, the second for six years and $144 million.
Both were rejected by Cano’s agents, and talks of a new contract were put off until the end of the season.
Discussion about a possible long-term extension for Cano have been going on since before the season started. In early April, Cano announced that he was dropping long-time agent Scott Boras and joining forces with rap star Jay-Z.
Jay-Z formed a partnership with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) to found Roc Nation Sports, with Cano as the first client.
Brodie Van Wagenen, lead agent for CAA Sports, is in charge of negotiating Cano’s new contract.
Prior to Cano switching agents, the Yankees had made what was termed at the time as a “significant offer” to Cano, but that was obviously rejected by Cano’s camp.
Now, the Yankees are in a tight spot. Ownership, led by Hal Steinbrenner, has expressed a desire to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014. The Yankees paid out an estimated $29.2 million in payroll luxury tax in 2013.
But the Yankees already have over $89 million committed to just seven players for the 2014 season. Adding Cano and a possible $30 million puts that number at $119 million, and they’ll still have 17 players to sign to fill out the 25-man roster.
All of a sudden, that $189 million figure looks to be a complete pipe dream.
The Yankees have several holes in the lineup that need to be addressed. Alex Rodriguez, who is under contract for $26 million next season, is facing a year-long suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. If the suspension is upheld through appeal, the Yankees would automatically have that $26 million taken off the books. That’s certainly a plus.
Rodriguez will begin the fight of his appeal at a planned arbitration meeting on Monday.
But they’ll then need to acquire another third baseman. They also need to fill the shoes of legendary closer Mariano Rivera, who is retiring at the end of the season. So too is starting pitcher Andy Pettitte. So the rotation will have holes that need to be filled as well.
In addition, concern over shortstop Derek Jeter and whether he can fully bounce back from a broken left ankle is a major question mark. And a decision on whether to retain outfielder Curtis Granderson will have to be addressed as well.
Granderson would love to stay in New York. But he also knows that it will come down to a business decision for the Yankees.
I've enjoyed my time here," Granderson said. "In four seasons, it's been great. The organization, from top to bottom, has been good to me. I've enjoyed the city, everything about it. At the same time, it's definitely a business. And we'll see how it all ends up shaking out."
So, it’s not just about Robinson Cano for the Yankees. They have a litany of issues that need resolution this winter.
It’s not a black and white issue. As much as the Yankees need the production of Robinson Cano, they also need to balance their payroll concerns based on many other decisions.
For Robinson Cano, the $305 million contract is a possibility. But the chances of the Yankees even coming close to offering him that kind of money are remote at best.
Look for Robinson Cano to be playing in a different uniform next season. And it will be a strange sight to see.