First, don’t forget, we’re doing a chat today at noon. We’ll hang out for a while, talk about the Yankees, someone will ask a random music question, and I’ll spend way too much time thinking about how to answer it. It’ll be great. You gotta be there.
Last night I wrote some sort of nonsense about which Tuesday meeting was more important for the Yankees: The one about the Japanese posting system or the one about trying to re-sign Robinson Cano.
Let’s be clear, it’s the sort of question that’s basically made for the Internet. There is no right answer, and the two options are completely unrelated to one another, but it’s good for a mild debate about how you view this offseason for the Yankees. Are they in more trouble without their top offensive priority, or without their top rotation target.
I said the posting system meeting was more important, and here’s why.
While I don’t know which direction the Yankees might turn if they decide to stop pursuing Cano, I know they would have some options. There’s no replacing Cano at second base, but Omar Infante is out there as a perfectly decent option, and there are big-hitting corner outfielders who could fill up available DH at-bats with home run power. That Cano money could go toward a couple of players to at least begin making up the difference. It would be a bit of a mess for sure — when Plan A involves the best second baseman in the game, Plan B is inevitably going to have some short-comings — but offense seems attainable. Maybe not at second base, but somewhere.
Starting pitching on the other hand, that’s hard to stumble upon.
Look at the Tim Lincecum extension and the Dan Haren deal. Even unpredictable pitching, coming off not-so-great years, costs a fortune. And look at the Jason Vargas contract. Perfectly solid No. 3 starters require long-term deals. The availability of Masahiro Tanaka is key for the Yankees because it fits two stated goals: Cut luxury tax spending, and pitching is the key to the kingdom. No one can say for certain that Tanaka will be a great big league starter, but he seems to be as reasonable a bet as anything out there.
Missing out on either Cano or Tanaka would leave the Yankees without a can’t-miss fall-back plan, but there are at least a few other directions the team could go without Cano. Without Tanaka, the search for starting pitching might lead nowhere. The Yankees always knew they were in for a tough negotiation with Cano. But if Tanaka never becomes at least a possibility, I’m not sure how the team adjusts.
Associated Press photo