You get an extension! You get an extension! Annnnnd you get an extension! This off-season, Ryan Zimmerman was locked up long term by the Nationals with an six-year extension, Asdrubal Cabrera recently agreed to a two-year extension with the Indians, the Brewers just signed Jonathan Lucroy to a five-year extension, and Joey Votto is rumored to be on the verge of a long term extension with the Reds. Add Matt Cain to that mix, who was just given a five-year extension by the Giants. Baseball clubs are handing out extensions to their young stars like candy right now, all while the Yankees' best hitter moves closer and closer to free agency.
It has never been the Yankees' game plan to offer contract extensions to their players, likely costing them more money in the long run, but it's not a completely outrageous decision. Offering long-term contract extensions can be a risky business, especially if the player doesn't have a good amount of major league service time under his belt. That is not the case with Cano, though, who has proven himself as the Yankees best offensive player over the last couple of seasons, and would be a great candidate to offer a long term extension to sooner rather than later.
As we've seen with the Rays and Evan Longoria, sometimes these gambles turn out to be an absolute steal for the team, but at this point in Robinson Cano's career, it's likely too late to think that the Yankees can retain him for much less than he's worth on the open market. However, they can eliminate the inevitable high dollar bidding process that will take place if and when Cano reaches free agency. In an effort to save whatever money they can, the Yankees can and should avoid getting into a bidding war with the numerous other teams who will no doubt be clamoring to get Robinson Cano on their team once his contract is up by being proactive and working out some kind of deal before it reaches that point.
It seems like a no-brainer to work things out between the club and player ahead of time, rather than having to potentially outbid a team willing to throw everything they have at Cano once he's a free agent. Can the Yankees outbid pretty much anyone for their young star if they need to? Of course, but with the goal of getting under the luxury tax limit, why let it get to the point where other teams can drive up the price?
We heard this off-season that the Yankees discussed an extension with Russell Martin, so it's not as though the Yankees are completely unwilling to do what it takes to keep a player they feel they need. I'd argue that Cano fits that description pretty well. Even if both the Yankees and Cano are willing to work out a deal, there is likely another road block in the way of peaceful negotiation. Robinson Cano is represented by Scott Boras, who will no doubt be encouraging his client to test the free agent waters to see what kind of money is out there to get the maximum out of his next contract. The Yankees would almost certainly have to blow him away with an offer before he'd be willing to give up what he thinks Cano could make if he reached free agency, but it seems like it would at least be worth a try to have that security in place for the long haul.