I am sure Yankees' fans have varying emotions when it comes to Robinson Cano, but I, for one, think that he should be booed. This is not just about him being an ex-Yankee. I do not believe a player should be booed just because he is no longer on the team. I never booed Tino Martinez or rooted against Andy Pettitte when they signed elsewhere. Why? Because neither guy was so mercenary. The same is not true of Robinson Cano.
Retrospectively, I am under no illusion that sports generally involves loyalty. Robinson Cano is not obligated to the Yankees or the fans. However, all that being said, let us not kid ourselves, Cano's comments about being disrespected by the Yankees is itself inflammatory and is, standing alone, deserving of booing. The Yankees offered him a lot of money by nearly any standard. If not for Seattle offering an outlandish deal, Cano would likely have still been a Yankee just by the mere fact that it would seem that most teams were not willing to commit more money and years to him than the Yankees had already offered, which in itself says something significant -- that there was nothing disrespectful about the offer. If the Yankees offer was not market worthy, something which is dictated by the bidders, there would have been a sea of other offers to choose from, of which there were not. Further, the Yankees offer represented a tie for the second highest annual salary for a Major League positional players and was the highest in its time frame. He would have been on par with Josh Hamilton, a recent MVP, at the time of the deal, while slightly above Albert Pujols, a multiple MVP winner, while slightly behind Alex Rodriguez, a guy we now all despise, but who was also a multiple MVP winner at the time. Both Pujols and Rodriguez were the best players in the game in their primes, something which no one has ever said about Cano. To be paid like the best players in the game while never being that himself is, in itself, anything but disrespectful.
Cano, in his defense, might point out what the Yankees offered to other positional players, including what the Yankees might ultimately sign Ellsbury for. In that regard, he might assert that loyalty, health and performance, all dictate that he is worth more than Ellsbury and should have been reflected in his offer. He would be right. However, what Cano would have missed in that point is that, none of those things means that the Yankees should have spent more than the market warrants. At the time Cano signed, $25 million a year was the ceiling for the best. Even Seattle did not offer that much annually, which brings us to Cano's other expected defense, the number of years in the deal. The Yankees offered him seven while Seattle offered him ten. I do not blame Cano for wanting to get as many years as he could. This will be his last big contract and he wanted it to be the best he could get. Understood! However, that does not change the fact that seven years at $25 million a year was an offer that the market was not willing to even compete with but for one desperate team whose offer dictated just how desperate Seattle was. Desperate teams do dumb things. Look at Tampa Bay trading a first and future fourth round pick last year to get Darrelle Revis, whom they then agreed to pay an obscene $16 million a year for. Now one year later, and the team, recognizing the obscenity of the arrangement, cut him, as know one else was willing to absorb that money in a trade. Just because an offer is not the highest or longest does not make it disrespectful. In baseball, it seemed that, after watching how bad the deals were turning out for Rodriguez and Pujols, the market changed whereby contracts for ten years were being steered away from at the time (up until the Miguel Cabrera brain freeze anyway.) Significantly, the Yankees seven year offer would have started at age 31 and taken him through age 37. Can anyone tell me the last guy still in his prime at that age? How about the percentage of second basemen in their primes at that age? Most second basemen, and most players overall, are years past their primes by then and the modern player has shown that to be true not dissimilar to past eras. Yet, somehow, Cano thinks that he was not offered a respectful length contract? Had the Yankees signed him through 40, then they would have respected him? That is ludicrous. Yes he has every reason to want it and every right to take it but he should have just done so and just said thanks to everyone past and present and moved on.
Notably, while I am still upset to see Cano in another uniform, I am glad the Yankees did not match Seattle's offer. It would have been just another bad deal that would have been rued by the team and fans alike in the not too distant future though now it will be Seattle doing the ruing. Further, Cano may have talent but he never seemed to be a real Yankee. His father Jose Cano was more excited about him playing and staying then Robinson ever was. He never expressed any real desire to stay. Moreover, he never hustled. He wanted to get paid like the best without trying his best. That is kind of ironic is it not? Ellsbury may never be as good as Cano (and has every reason to be hated by Sox' fans now) but no one has ever questioned his effort. While Cano's lack of hustle may not bother as many while the guy is in his prime, it likely would when he is out of his prime.
I cannot say for certain whether I would have booed him if he just left for the money without anything further, but I can say for certain that I think he fairly earned the boos he will get now.