The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract
with an eighth-year option that could bring the total contract to $163 million (update: there is no eighth year option, per Jayson Stark). That's a lot of money, especially when the Yankees have been saying they won't be spending a lot of money on Robinson Cano. Holding the line at seven years and $175 million seems foolish and a little nonsensical when you think about what the Yankees seem to be willing to spend on against what they aren't.
Robinson Cano is a better player than Ellsbury – he's a better hitter, has more power, and, most importantly, he's more essential to the success of the team. Without Cano, the Yankees don't really have much of a team. They could sign Omar Infante, but it's not going to be the same. Infante isn't going to hit in the heart of the lineup like Cano will. Judging by the contract Ellsbury signed, it's pretty clear that the Yankees are going to sign Cano, otherwise this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The Yankees kind of needed an outfielder, but they didn't really NEED an outfielder, so getting the most expensive center fielder was kind of excessive. It's the same with Brian McCann; they didn't really NEED the best catcher on the market, just someone who could hit better than Chris Stewart, which was anyone. They went for both because they're going for broke, outspending the competition, and ensuring they have the best of the best, no matter what. That's what the Yankees do and will always do.
Putting up the stop sign for Cano only makes sense if they're actually trying to cut payroll, stick to Plan 189, and actually change their ways. Then you try to get Cano at the cheapest price possible, especially when the market for him is pretty much barren. If the Yankees aren't sticking to that goal then they have no reason to limit what they spend on Cano. They signed Ellsbury and McCann to top dollar contracts, though neither of them are game-changers on their own. The market behind both are much stronger than at second base, so the Yankees could easily sign another outfielder or another catcher and still get comparable value for what they would be paying.
If the Yankees allow Cano to leave, it would make Ellsbury and McCann meaningless signings, at least for the 2014 season, because the two of them alone don't really make up for the loss of Cano. Having all three makes perfect sense because you would be adding to the talent on the field from last season, rather than trying to replace it.
The idea of the Yankees playing hardball with Cano is absolute bullshit, especially now that they have proven they are willing to spend big. It only makes sense for them to reach out and sign him to an eight-year, $200 million deal at this point, because it will justify what they have been doing. And there's no way Cano will buy the idea that they're now watching their budget because the Yankees are a worse team without him.
When it's all said and done, Cano will be a Yankee for many years to come, and while he won't be getting the contract of his dreams, he won't be leaving the negotiation table empty handed.
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