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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


The Robinson Cano problem

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Nov 12, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Robinson Cano

Of the many holes in the Yankees lineup, none is bigger than second base. And of the Yankees many offseason targets, none is more problematic than Robinson Cano.

He is the market’s most expensive free agent, yet the Yankees are trying to cut payroll. He would fit the Yankees’ greatest positional needs, but the team can hardly make him a singular focus. He’s the second baseman the Yankees want, the hitter they need, and the guy they might have to let go.

Re-sign him or replace him, neither is going to be easy, and either could define the franchise for the next decade.

Bill Madden wrote in today’s Daily News that the market for Cano seems nonexistent at the moment. Teams are either scared of his asking price or prioritizing other targets. Maybe that will spur Cano to re-sign quickly, but more likely it will encourage him to wait. At some point, that market has to correct itself. If teams are currently afraid of his asking price, they’re going to eventually become encouraged by the fact he’s still on the market. Other plans will fall through and Cano will be there, one of the game’s best hitters perfectly available.

How often does the offseason’s top free agent sign in the middle of November? Does that ever happen? Doesn’t it always take time?

Robinson CanoProblem is, the Yankees don’t have the luxury of time. They have too many holes to fill, too many decisions to make. Cano is a natural fit — middle infielder, middle-of-the-order hitter; two massive Yankees needs — but if he’s not going to re-sign, it will require such a change of direction that the Yankees will need significant time to put all of the crumbling pieces into place.

Right now, the Yankees lineup is built around Cano. Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano are power hitters, but they aren’t necessarily No. 3 hitters. Alex Rodriguez isn’t that kind of hitter any more, and even he might not be available next season. The free agent market doesn’t offer any third basemen or shortstops who can come close to replacing Cano’s production, leaving right field and catcher as the only positions where the Yankees can begin making up ground, but if Cano takes his time, the market’s best alternatives could come off the board before the Yankees realize they have to move on to Plan B.

So why not acknowledge there’s no time to wait, move on preemptively, and spend the Cano money elsewhere? Because Cano fits too well.

Yes, he’s going to cost a fortune, but that’s the cost of doing business in the free agent pool. Cano has put himself in a position to cash in, and the Yankees have not put themselves in a position to easily move on. Cano presents an opportunity put a star player in a position that’s usually a weakness (how many MVP-types play second base?). It’s also a position where the Yankees have absolutely no one in the minor league system who looks like a future all-star. Rob Refsnyder is probably the system’s best minor league second baseman, and even his best-case scenario seems to be geared toward becoming a solid on-base guy, not game-changer. The Yankees have promising catchers and outfielders — even some good young pitchers — but second base is thin. It’s always thin.

For the Yankees, second base is the position with a greatest downgrade potential. It’s a position of little or no organizational strength. It’s a position with an obvious solution that presents its own unique challenges and difficulties.

Second base has been a strength for the Yankees, and now it’s a problem for the Yankees. Both because of Robinson Cano.

Associated Press photos

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42 Responses to “The Robinson Cano problem”

  1. stanzy November 12th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    How about move on preemptively, then spend the Cano money on Cano?

  2. Mike in Harrisburg November 12th, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    It is highly troubling to me that the average age of the squad could actually get higher this offseason.

  3. Wave Your Hat November 12th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    If the Yanks don’t sign Cano they pretty much have to sign McCann. The upgrade at catcher would be massive, which could offset the massive decline at 2B. They would then pretty much have to trade Sanchez for an infielder.

    I would hate to see them do that but I really don’t see another path if the Yanks intend to stay competitive once Cano is gone.

  4. willwill November 12th, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Losing cano isn’t an option, he didn’t hook up with Jayz to leave new york.He could of did that with his old douche agent

  5. kd November 12th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    it’s going to take a while to sign him. kinda like when jeter was a free agent, cano has to see what the market offers. this is likely his last contract, he’s in the middle of a hof career. he will take his time. that said, yankees 7/170

  6. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    The angry Mets fans calling Big Mike all afternoon make me feel a little better about our current situation.

  7. austinmac November 12th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    The team can’t wait for Cano and AROD to be resolved. We are already seeing some player movement. They can’t, but I think they probably will.

    JayZ wants to make a big splash. Signing for what was previously offered isn’t that.

  8. kd November 12th, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    arod’s not in their control, cano is. unless there’s a crazy owner, they’ll be bidding against themselves

  9. jacksquat November 12th, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Jayz is just a name on a real agency (CAA).

  10. jacksquat November 12th, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I give Cano a good offer with a time limit. They can’t be waiting on Cano while players they may want if they don’t sign Cano, like McCann, Choo and Beltran sign with other teams.

  11. Mike in Harrisburg November 12th, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    If Cano takes 7/170 I would be absolutely stoked. And very surprised.

  12. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Jeter – SS
    Choo – RF 5 – $100M
    Cano – 2B 7 – $175M
    Beltran – DH 2 – $30M
    Soriano – LF
    Tex – 1B
    McCann – C 5 – $85M
    Peralta – 3B 2 – $22M
    Gardy – CF

    CC – Kuroda (1 – $15M) Nova – Tanaka (6 – $60M – $75M post) – Pineda/Phelps/Warren/Nuno

    Drob – Balfour (2 – $14M) – Wilson (2 – $12M) – Kelley – Betances – Cabral – Phelps/Warren

    Under $600M in new contracts (and posting fees)… A Bargain for a title contender!

  13. austinmac November 12th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Pkyank,

    I like how you think. You may tell Hal to implement it.

  14. Pat M. November 12th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Mike in Harrisburg, that might be in the neighborhood 7 years at 25 mil. Many think that Cano really wants to stay in The Bronx or at least that’s the prevailing thought. How # 1 ranked Kentucky be at home vs. # 2 Michigan State and be a 3 1/2 point dog ???? Maybe Calapari’s semi pro one and done team is a tad over rated ???? I like The Spartans but I’m waiting for the line to drop a little

  15. Hankflorida November 12th, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    If the Yankee outfield is Soriano, Gardener with Suzuki and Welles, there will be enough money to sign Cano and go after some pitching and a left handed hitting DH and still be below the cap. The Yankee offense next year will be a repeat performance of this year, but if the pitching improves, the 2nd Wildcard will be within their grasp.

  16. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Mac,

    Already shot Hal a text.

  17. Bret The Hitman November 12th, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Julius Randle is a straight up baller. Remember the name. He’s the next Karl Malone.

  18. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Hal just got back to me…

    He still thinks we can have a “title contender” and stay under $189

    Gardner – CF
    Jeter – SS
    Cano – 2B
    Tex – 1B
    Beltran – RF
    Soriano – LF
    Reynolds – DH
    Nunez – 3B
    Cervelli – C

    CC – Nova – Tanaka – Arroyo – Pineda
    Drob – Kelley – Betances – Cabral – Phelps – Mitre (per Girardi’s request)

  19. CoreyMac November 12th, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Personally, you can fill more holes without Cano than with him. You don’t need a great bat at EVERY position…just some defense.

    You could get McCann, Choo and Peralta for the price of Cano, okay maybe slightly more but still my point stands. People need to stop being so connected to one player. Cano is another one of those guys that has been great….but would again be another payroll clogging contract.

  20. Bret The Hitman November 12th, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Spread the wealth theory?

  21. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    McCann + Choo + Peralta = around $45M per year.

    They would be somewhere around $20M more in 2014 against $189M than just Cano.

    The Yankees need to scrap 189

    SPEND SPEND SPEND

  22. Bret The Hitman November 12th, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Quantity over quality?

  23. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    It’s too bad it isn’t the $187 million luxury tax threshold.

    That # being the police code for murder would be much more fitting as the Yankees quest to get under in 2014 over the past few years has ‘murdered’ the franchise for the time being.

  24. joeman November 12th, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Mariano Rivera has retired, and replacing him will obviously be a tough task for the Yankees. “I’m not sure if Robertson is capable yet. He’s never done that before,” Cashman said at the GM Meetings in Florida. “I think he’s earned the right to take a shot at it, and he very well may be the guy. But we’re not anointing him the guy.”
    ———————————————
    What I’ve been saying for 2 months

  25. joeman November 12th, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Cervelli was on PEDs and he stunk

  26. joeman November 12th, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Reynolds K’s every 2.1 AB’s

  27. pkyankfan69 November 12th, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Joeman

    That’s the plan Hal text to me… Not my ideas.

  28. AAA November 12th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Congrats to Clint Hurdle. He had a heck of a year.

  29. kd November 12th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    three more years of tex. is 250/25/90 reasonable?

  30. Pat M. November 12th, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I’m not speaking for myself and this will rattle a few cages here but there’s quite a few evaluators who think Choo is going to be the most overpaid and over rated guy on the market this winter. Joeman, are you playing the Kentucky / Mich St. game ??? What about Duke laying 5 ???? I placed 50.00 on Kansas to win 90.00

  31. Bret The Hitman November 12th, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Well every free agent will be overpaid. You pick the guys with the best numbers (Cano and Choo).

  32. Jerkface November 12th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Dave Duncan just got hired by the Dbacks as a special consultant, why did the Yankees not get this guy?

  33. kd November 12th, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    duncan may still be mad at the yankees for how they treated his son

  34. bigdan22 November 12th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    AFL. Williams at .231. O’Brien at .186. Longing for the days of Son of Duncan.

  35. bigdan22 November 12th, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Can’t really think of a more disappointing prospect than Mason Williams over the last year.

  36. pete2 November 12th, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    The Yankees should already have submitted their best offer to Cano and given him a deadline to accept, after which the offer is off the table and they move on.

    The Yankees have so many positions which could be upgraded that losing offense at 2B is no huge problem. You pay a premium for elite offense at 2B since it is relatively rare. However, there are affordable options to upgrade offense at C, SS (Jeter to 3B), RF, LF, DH. Take 4 players who can be had for a 50 million dollar commitment (12-15 million AAV range) and go with a relatively cheap defensive specialist at 2B.

    The only teams who should be spending 200-300 million on an elite 2Bman are teams who are well stocked at most every other position. That’s not the Yankees today.

    Unfortunately, the front office is simply incapable of thinking outside the box.

  37. austinmac November 12th, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Dan,

    I keep waiting for a prospect to prosper. Instead they all seem to hit a ceiling.

  38. leeteam November 12th, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Back-up plan for 2nd base…

    Move Soriano back to 2nd base.

  39. Dill Pickler November 12th, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Letting Cano go is the dumbest idea I’ve heard around here, maybe ever. And that’s saying a lot. You don’t let a Hall of Fame caliber 2nd baseman — with his kind of production — walk away in his prime. Not if you’re the New York Yankees. And if you don’t think Cano is HOF caliber, you haven’t checked out the list of 2nd basemen in the hall.

    the Yankees have no alternative. They have to spend to rebuild the team, because the farm system has produced no one, and has no one on the horizon capable of helping. And no, a repeat of last year, filling the roster/lineup with scrap heap replacement level detritus isn’t an option. That means no Wells/Ichiro platoon in right. That means you have to scrap the $189m plan, thank God.

    Bottom line: it’s not your money, so stop advocating that the Steinbrenners pocket it rather than putting it back into the team. They’re still going to charge the same outrageous ticket prices, still going to charge the same outrageous concession prices. Are they cutting executive salaries? No, they’re not. So stop falling mindlessly in line with the notion that they need to cut payroll. The Yankees are not short of money. The opposite is true.

    Resign Cano. Sign Beltran or Choo. Sign Tanaka and resign Kuroda. Sign McCann. Trade for/sign a solid 3rd baseman, and get a dh with power.

    No more dumpster diving.

  40. Dill Pickler November 12th, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    pete2:
    The Yankees should already have submitted their best offer to Cano and given him a deadline to accept, after which the offer is off the table and they move on.
    The Yankees have so many positions which could be upgraded that losing offense at 2B is no huge problem. You pay a premium for elite offense at 2B since it is relatively rare. However, there are affordable options to upgrade offense at C, SS (Jeter to 3B), RF, LF, DH. Take 4 players who can be had for a 50 million dollar commitment (12-15 million AAV range) and go with a relatively cheap defensive specialist at 2B. The only teams who should be spending 200-300 million on an elite 2Bman are teams who are well stocked at most every other position. That’s not the Yankees today. Unfortunately, the front office is simply incapable of thinking outside the box.

    —————————————————————–

    Wow, you actually got it so wrong you’re upside down.

    The reason you hang on to a 2nd baseman with elite offense is BECAUSE it’s so rare that having it gives you an edge over every other team. No other team has a 2nd baseman with Cano’s offense. 1st Base, corner Outfield, 3rd Base, you can find guys who can provide lots of offense. They are not rare. So you get offense at those positions AND you keep Cano and you have a better offense than anyone else. That is what made the Yankees elite during their championship years. Because they had elite offense at positions where it’s rare, like Centerfield, and catcher. Plus offense at the normal offensive positions. You don’t just let a 2nd baseman with Cano’s offensive abilities, which is extremely rare, walk. Unless you want to be the Florida Marlins, penny-pinching and dumpster diving. Of course, you can’t even be the Florida Marlins if you wanted to because our farm system is a joke. We aren’t producing any talent, so unless you want to become annual losers, you have to spend. Good God, it’s the one thing the Yankees have that other teams don’t, and you’re advocating they just give that up voluntarily. For what? So the Steinbrenners can go buy another golden shoehorn? What’s in it for you?

    Sweet fancy Jesus. The stupid, it burns.

  41. rl1856 November 13th, 2013 at 10:08 am

    8 year / $200mm = $25mm per year and would make him among the highest paid players in baseball. And he will be able to sign a final contract at the tail end of his career to cash in on legacy records.

    8 year contract will give us 5 good years and 3 declining years. More importanly he will anchor our offense for rest of the decade.

  42. crorkz matz August 5th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    go6WmX Looking forward to reading more. Great blog. Keep writing.

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