Robinson Cano is no longer a Yankee. Those are words that I never thought I'd have to write. It seemed for a while, and even earlier this offseason, that there would be no way that the Yankees and Cano wouldn't work something out. Cano's preference was New York and he signed with Jay-Z after leaving Scott Boras to seemingly cement that. Yet, he's really gone.
Seeing the figure that the Mariners were willing to give Robbie – ten years and $240 million – is not one that I would have wanted the Yankees to give to him. Cano is on the wrong side of 30 years old and the Yankees have to learn their lesson on these back-breaking deals eventually. I can't blame Cano for taking that kind of money, because he'd be an idiot not to. I also cannot blame the Yankees for not matching or exceeding it. At that price, Cano was as good as gone anyway.
I grew up loving Derek Jeter but somewhere along the line, that turned into loving Cano. His giant bubblegum bubbles and silly dugout faces. That beautiful swing he had to right field at Yankee Stadium. As much as we like to say we root for the laundry, and to some extent we do, we get wrapped up in the guys who win games for our favorite team. Robbie has been among the best at that for the last few years. He's a perennial All-Star, never turned playing in New York into getting into trouble, yearly MVP candidate, and dammit, I'm going to miss him. The Yankees are going to miss him.
So, how do they move on? The Yankees have the roughly $25 million per year that they'd set aside for Cano, which probably means another big free agent signing. Maybe it's Carlos Beltran, maybe it's Shin-Soo Choo. Maybe they make a huge trade for Matt Kemp and take on some of his contract since they weren't able to give a bad one to Cano. There are a lot of possibilities for them, but it will be very difficult to find a way to replace what Cano brought to the lineup. It may be impossible in just one season.
The easy thing here would be to blame the Jacoby Ellsbury signing for Cano's departure, but I think that the deal he signed with Seattle is much more to blame. Even without Ellsbury, there was no indication that the Yankees were going to go anywhere near ten years. They didn't want another Alex Rodriguez contract on their hands, understandably. The Mariners wanted a star and they outbid the world to get him. For all we criticize the Yankees for, and they make it so easy sometimes, not matching this deal probably can't be one of them.
Today will be sad, seeing Cano in a Mariners uniform will be worse, and spring training will really hit hard when number 24 isn't manning second base. The first time the Yankees play the Mariners with Cano as their second baseman, I'm going to hate it a lot. We all will. Robbie was ours and now he isn't. It was really amazing while it lasted.
There you go again, baseball. You're not supposed to make us sentimental. Why do you always find a way to do it anyway?