If you're anything like me there's been a white hot pit of loathing growing deep in your gut ever since the news broke that homegrown Yankee superstar Robinson Cano is now a Seattle Mariner. It's a shock to the senses for sure - a humiliating kick in the groin. It's not supposed to work this way. When an outstanding player is a Yankee he's supposed to stay a Yankee for as long as we damn well want him to. As fans, we're lost and confused. We're angry.
It's not healthy to keep all that bad stuff inside, so let's pick a target at whom to direct our hatred and angst. Who should it be? Who's to blame for this debauchery? Here's a look at the options:
For our neighbors to the north in the Boston area, it's been a tried and true tradition to kick dirt on former favorites on their way out. We didn't want him back. He wasn't that good anyway. He's not clutch, he doesn't hustle - and so on. Hard as it is to admit, there's a certain appeal to their approach. Cano had every opportunity to stay a Yankee on a lucrative seven-year deal worth somewhere between $168 and $175 million, depending on which report you believe. Our former second baseman tossed away the opportunity to join an elite company of Yankees-for-life populated by Hall-of-Famers and baseball legends. There will never be a Robinson Cano day. We'll never see the number 24 hanging in Monument Park, at least not with his name attached to it.
But let's be fair. Cano didn't leave for a few more bucks. He got an extra $65 or $70 million, even more than that when you factor in the lack of a state income tax in Washington. That's more than the GDP of some countries. He could buy himself an island with that. There's a respect factor, too. Cano's been the Yankees' best player for the past four years, and their best offer to him only topped what they paid the far inferior Jacoby Ellsbury by around fifteen percent. Great players don't only want to be great - they also want to be reminded, constantly, how great they are. The Mariners did that for Cano this off-season. The Yankees didn't.
Suffice to say, the next time the Yankees reach the World Series, Jigga won't be invited to perform before game two like he was back in 2009. For someone who's waxed poetic about New York City in many of his songs, the rapper-turned-businessman-turned-owner-turned-agent clearly had no problem taking his first client away from it. I'm guessing that on that fateful flight to Seattle Thursday night, "Empire State of Mind" wasn't playing in the cabin.
Jay-Z and his cohorts at Roc Nation Sports were just doing their jobs. They were looking to make a big splash with Cano to put their agency on the map and to mark it as a true threat to the Scott Boras-dominated world of baseball negotiations. By landing Cano the fourth largest contract MLB has ever seen, they did just that. We'll find out soon enough if Jay-Z can still follow through on his promise to make Cano a transcendent marketing personality. It'll be a lot tougher in Seattle than it would have been in New York, but until I see him fail at something, I'm not going to doubt him.
Seattle knew. The past couple of days have confirmed what many of us suspected all along - that Michael Pineda was, in fact, a sleeper agent, sent over to never throw a pitch for the Yankees, all the while working to convince Cano of the awesomeness of the Pacific Northwest.
Someone needs to remind Howard Lincoln and Jack Zdureincik how things work. You don't outbid the Yankees and take their superstar. They outbid you and take yours. The Mariners blew up the market for Cano by handing him a contract that they'll absolutely regret. Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols couldn't justify their similar pacts and Cano's never been on their level, or even close to it. It's unfortunate that he'll be remembered more for his paycheck now than for anything he'll do on the field, but he has 240 million reasons to not be too concerned.
It's hard to hate Seattle for overpaying. They aren't the first team to go above and beyond the reaches of logic and sanity and they surely won't be the last. They were dead set on adding a star offensive player and breaking the bank was the only way they were going to do it.
Ding ding ding! Well, not exactly. After enduring what A-Rod's contract has become, the Yankees weren't going to give out another ten-year deal to a player over thirty, and for good reason. Seven years and $175 million wasn't a competitive enough offer to give Cano much to think about, but from what we've heard so far, it doesn't sound like an eighth year or a couple extra million in AAV would have made much of a difference. Cano didn't offer to come back at a reduced rate at the last minute. His final plea to New York was for $235 million.
Where Yankee execs deserve blame is for their stubborn refusal to re-sign players before their contracts end. Over the past few seasons we've seen star players around the majors - Justin Verlander, Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer and Felix Hernandez to name a few - agree to new deals with their clubs a year or two before reaching free agency. The agreements are by no means small, but they pale in comparison the riches players of that magnitude could find on the open market.
After the 2011 season the Yankees had two team options on Cano for 2012 and 2013 at $15 million per season. They were thrilled at the opportunity to keep their best player around at a sub-market price, especially when guys like A-Rod and Mark Teixeira were out-earning their on-field worth. Short-sighted much? After his 8.4 fWAR 2011 season, Matt Kemp agreed to an eight-year, $160 million extension with the Dodgers. He was a good comparable for Cano at the time - similar in age and production. If the Yankees had made the same offer, they might have Cano signed for a reasonable $20 million per year through 2019.
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- Robinson Cano signs with the Mariners: Did the Yankees make the right decision?
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- Robinson Cano signs with the Mariners: Is this the end of an era?