Poll: Robinson Cano and the farm system

Six years ago today...
Curtis Granderson taking fly balls in left field today
Will Cano become the second homegrown Yankees to get a $100M deal? Probably. (Star-Ledger)
Will Cano become the second homegrown Yankee to get a $100M deal? Probably. (Star-Ledger)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been going back and forth with one-time RABer Moshe Mandel about Robinson Cano‘s impending free agency. We’ve debated almost everything, from whether they should re-sign him to how much is too much, and all sorts of stuff in between. I’m guessing we’ll discuss it a few more times between now and November.

Anyway, during one of our recent friendly debates we got into talking about what a potential mega-contract for Cano would mean for the farm system, specifically the need to produce quality big leaguers. Obviously it’s important for every team to have a productive farm system, but factors at the big league level impact just how important it is. For total rebuilders like the Astros and Cubs, the farm system is very important. For clear contenders like the Nationals and Tigers, they aren’t as crucial.

The Yankees are much closer to clear contender than total rebuilder, but the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by next year means some level of rebuilding is on order. The club will need to develop a few productive players of their own, but how a new contract by Cano impacts that need is up for debate.

The case that re-signing Cano means they’ll need more from the farm system
The exact amount is still far from determined, but it’s safe to say Robbie’s next contract will be worth more than $20M annually. Add in existing commitments to Alex Rodriguez ($27.5M), CC Sabathia ($24.4M), and Mark Teixeira ($22.5M), and the Yankees are going to leave themselves with something like $90M to fill out the rest of the roster. With three starting pitchers, one outfielder, and at least three relievers scheduled to hit free agency next winter, the Yankees will need their farm to plug some holes on the cheap. On the other hand, they won’t be desperate for a homegrown impact hitter because Cano will still be around.

The case that letting Cano walk means they’ll need more from the farm system
If the Yankees are unable to retain their second baseman, they’ll have approximately $110M in wiggle room under the luxury tax threshold going forward. They’ll have those same holes — three starters, three relievers, one outfielder — to fill plus the second base spot, and it’ll be tough to plug all those holes with free agents. The Yankees would need their system to produce an impact middle of the order bat in very near future plus other useful pieces to shore up the roster. They’d have more money to spend, but also a much bigger hole to fill in the lineup.

* * *

As I said before, the Yankees are going to need to farm system to start cranking out capable big leaguers regardless of what happens with Cano. They can thank their self-imposed payroll cap for that. Is the farm system more important with or without Cano? Moshe and I haven’t been able to agree about that, so let’s bust out the ol’ RAB pollin’ machine.

The farm system will be more important if...
Total Votes: 1656 Started: February 20, 2013 Back to Vote Screen
Six years ago today...
Curtis Granderson taking fly balls in left field today
  • Dick Whitman

    Absolutely if Cano signs. They’ll need to squeeze cost controlled years out of multiple positions. If Cano leaves, there’s always trade for free agency.

    • pablos bolony samwich

      Absolutely if Cano signs. They’ll have to squeeze cost controlled years out of multiple positions. If Cano leaves, there’s always trade for free agency.

      • Jim Is Bored


        • Robinson Tilapia

          Beef bologna? Must have gone halal.

    • dalelama

      Either way we are screwed.

      • Jim Is Bored

        No one thought that would be your opinion.

      • jjyank

        Either way your comments will still be truly awful.

      • Govin

        Dalelama, you should become an Astros fan, then when you post your doom and gloom comments, there will be someone who actually takes you seriously .

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I voted for “re-signs,” and that’s really not even taking the celery cap into account. No matter what, I think the team will want to balance out the multiple big deals on the books with younger players, especially trying to graduate more than one of the young OFs to the MLB level.

    If he leaves….there’s probably more than a few problems on the table for 2014.

    For the love of God, stay, Robbie.

    • Upstae Yanks

      Mmmm I love celery caps…

      If Cano leaves does Tilapia turn into David Al Dente?

  • Yankee Fan 1

    Judging by the pictures I’ve seen, Jeter and Cano look like they’ve been having a great time this week. Please don’t leave us Robbie.

  • Jim Is Bored

    I think the near 50/50 split is probably accurate. I voted “leaves”, but mostly because I’m not sure I see a FA bat the Yankees can sign in the next 1-2 years, and I’m still of the mindset that championships require star-level production.

    But either way, if that salary cap is still a thing, the farm system is going to ridiculously important the next 2-3 years, at the very least as fodder for trades.

    • jjyank

      My thoughts exactly. I actually didn’t even cast a vote, because I can’t really decide which scenario is more important. Either way, the farm system is going to be huge as long as the budget stays in place. I am leaning towards the “if he leaves” camp, only because they’re going to be relying on the farm to become an all-star caliber middle of the order bat, as opposed to a lower expectation of a role player type if Cano stays.

      But either way, it’s super important.

    • Govin

      Well said, rather then write a post of my own I’ll just agree with this one. Since I couldn’t of said it better myself.

      • Laz

        You could always copy it and add one word.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    The most recent write-up by Chad on LoHud actually makes for an excellent companion piece to this. Worth a read.

    • Govin

      Save us obi-wan Canoe, your our only hope. Sorry couldn’t help it.

      • pablos bolony samwich

        Mate us obi-wan Canoe, your our only hope. Sorry couldn’t help it.

        • jjyank

          Well there’s an image. Indeed.

        • Govin

          Pablos is nothing sacred. Yikes, I liked it better when you helped me with my grammar.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Holy crap, I still find this funny after a night’s sleep.

  • LK

    Depends on the time horizon for me. If Cano leaves, the farm is more important in the immediate future. If he stays, it’s more important down the road, when Cano has started to decline and the other huge contracts are still on the books.

  • Mister D

    With a (self-imposed) salary limit, adding another $20MM player means sub $1MM contributors are more important. That feels obvious, right?

    • Havok9120

      It does, except for the middle of the order bat concern. We’d need to replace Cano’s (and possibly Granderson’s) production somehow when they leave and it isn’t readily apparent how the extra 20-odd million a year would help us do that next season. The FA market is set to be kinda “meh.”

  • Dean Landsman

    The answer is not one or the other. The bottom line is that whether Cano stays or goes, a strong farm system is always a necessity.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Couldn’t have said this any better.

  • Blake

    Don’t think they’ll have 110 million wiggle room either way after everything is accounted for…..

    CC: 24.4
    Tex: 22.5
    Ichiro: 6.5
    Bonuses: Aprox 12

    That’s about 93 million there…..if Jeter picks up his option that’s another 15….plus they’ll need to leave room for Alex’s homer bonus of 6 million unless he goes on a tear in the 2nd half this year or they move him….

    It’s more likely to be closer to 75 million they’d have to play with without Cano…..and 50 with him when everything is accounted for

  • Pissed off fan

    They need tp resign Cano,there farm syst is always must to go to they need more players then the farm is growing.Open the wallet and at least yry and compete.the yanks do not spend the fam should not either till ownership wales up

    • http://ryanhandt.com handtius

      I haven’t the foggiest what you’re saying here.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This is what trying to use your cel phone to type while on a roller coaster must be like.

      • Linguist

        If you read it backwards you’ll find he makes a great point.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Up…wales…ownership…..now I get it!

    • Govin

      I think what he is trying to say is, we don’t have enough homegrown players ready to contribute so we need to sign free agents. Cano is going to be a free agent so we need to sign him.
      Or he might be talking about the Many inhumanities against whales. Couldn’t really tell.

    • OldYanksFan

      I couldn’t agree more!

  • Mike

    IF the Yankees stick to the 189 plan. I say trade Cano. By the time we get World Series competitive Cano will be in the middle to back of his mega contract and will be one half the player he is now. We have too many holes to fill in the near future.( Jeter , Granderson , Pettite , Rivera . RF, Catcher. ) ….. To many holes and not enough money to go around .

    IF the Yankees bybass the 189 and go spend crazy…. Sign him and reload.

    • jjyank

      See, in your first scenario, you’re assuming that the Yankees won’t be “World Series competitive” for 3-4 years. If that’s the premise if your point, then I fundamentally disagree with your logic.

      Nobody knows what the composition of the team will be 1 year from now, let alone several. This is why I hate it when people use absolutes like this.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        He also assumes that Robbie will be half the player he is now in 3-4 years.

        Entitled to his opinion, I guess. It’s not mine.

      • Mike

        its my personal opinion of course.

        Things would have to break right even if the Yankees resign Cano to be “World Series Competitive” in the next 3-4 years .

        1- Jeter’s replacement
        2- Rivera’s replacement
        3- Centerfield
        4- RF
        5- Starting pitching (again)
        6- Bullpen (again)

        Alot of holes to fill… and Cano won’t be getting any younger.

        Lets face it. are the yankees competitive sure . But at this very moment , under Hals 189 plan they are rebuilding too. like i said . . too many holes in the near future .. not enough money…

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I don’t think having to make some roster changes and remaining competitive are mutually exclusive to one another.

          As fans, we’ve been spoiled by this team having everything figured out, position-wise, before Spring Training every year more often than not. It’s not always like that, and it’s certainly not always like that for teams who actually do go on to be extremely competitive.

          It’s going to be interesting to see whether Wally Matthews was talking out his ass in that article Mike put up last night.

        • jjyank

          Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion. I just think it’s an exercise in futility to predict a team’s roster construction several years from now and conclude with certainty that they won’t be contenders. They could be contenders just as easily as they could not be. Prospects stepping up, trades for cost controlled players, signing guys on low risk contracts that exceed expectations, etc. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

  • http://Twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    It has to be if he leaves. If Cano leaves that means NYY would need to develop better players and more frequently than they are now to replace the production that isn’t there especially from a top 10 (argualbly a top 5) player in all of MLB.

    • Havok9120

      I concur. Stay or leave we’ll need an OF or two and a bunch of pitchers. If he leaves, we’ll also need a 2B and one of the new position players will need to be worthy of the middle of the order.

  • mitch

    I voted leaves. If LA offers 8/200 and the Yankees let him walk, that will be the first actual indication that they’re going to start spending smarter. If that’s the case, developing minor leaguers will be more important.

    If they sign him to a monster contract, i’ll view the 189 plan as a temporary way to cut costs, and still assume their primary motivation is money. Developing minor leaguers will be less important (to them) than adding former stars like Ichiro.

  • Reggie C.

    No one prospect or heck.. two prospects.. in the current farm will replicate Cano’s numbers in 2014 should Cano choose to sign elsewhere. If Cano signs elsewhere, the answer is easy: go look at the trade market and/or free agency for cheaper ML ready options.

    The farm takes on a far more important role in the scenario where Cano re-signs. At that point, i’m sure mgmt lets Granderson leave w/out making an offer, so that’s one corner OF spot needing filling. Lets hope Tyler Austin and/or Ramon Flores is ready to go w/ Heathcott and M.Williams both likely needing extra minor league seasoning.

    Catcher and third base are other spots needing cheap options; not sure i see an internal candidate for 3B ready to go by 2014.

    • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

      I honestly would switch Austin back to 3B, since it is clearly an area of need.

  • http://ryanhandt.com handtius

    It’s a close 50/50 split. In the near future it will be more important for the farm system to produce quality big leaguers if Cano doesn’t sign. You’re loosing a significant bat if he walks away and unless they plan on signing another significant bat, someone in the farm system has to go ape shit amazing this year, like Austin hitting 400 with 30 hrs at triple-A and Adams hitting 300 with like 10-15 hrs. If that doesn’t happen, and they need a middle of the order bat, who are they going to get to replace Cano at second and/or to be an offense force like he is?

  • Greg

    Robbie already makes 15M. So a bump over 20M us insignificant. The big issue is reducing payroll almost 30M. That’s what will drive the housecleaning.

    • Linguist

      This is a good point you make.

  • toad

    Cano leaves.

    Yes, you save the money and can sign other FA’s, but where do you get an impact player like Cano for less money? Not in the FA market. So you need to produce some serious players yopurself. Not spare parts, not role players, stars. And the only way to do that is to build the whole player development system. Expand it, strengthen it, spend more on it.

    You might as well even if Cano stays, because the Yankee ability to outspend everyone else for FA’s is disappearing.

    • Linguist

      Not that there are many spots to do this, but I don’t think it would be very realistic to find someone to replace Robbie’s production in a single person. It would likely have to be a net improvement across a few players to make up for the difference.

      • Govin

        Right on linguist, having any hope of replacing Canos production,with one person, is not very realistic. The only way that could happen is through a trade, in which the whole farm system is devastated for the next five years.

        • Robinson Tilapia


          This is why, also, I agree with the one guy who didn’t really see much of a difference. The farm is going to be needed moving forward as the players who have defined a whole lot of this franchise for the past 15 years, or more, move on.

          • Govin

            I agree with that, we are at a point were the farm system is going to play an important part, no matter what happens to Cano.

        • Laz

          Agree. Also the fact that Yankees are weak in corner outfield and DH works for them. Is alot cheaper to get a player that is good offensively as a DH or corner outfielder.

      • toad

        Fair enough, but replacing Cano’s production even by improving at a few spots is going to be expensive if you go the FA route.

        Plus the uncertain availability makes it even more imperative that you have a lot of prospects. My own opinion is that player development is very much a numbers game. It’s all very well to say X “projects as” something or other, but there’s a lot of variation there. If you need to get stronger at several positions to replace Cano development becomes even more important.

  • Mike HC

    Definitely if Cano leaves. That 24 million a year you save by letting Cano go will not get you all that much in free agency. Superstars are not the only ones getting overpaid. You can probably get two solid players with 24 million in free agency, or 3-4 borderline starters. If we lose Cano, that production is gone and the kids will really have to step up because there won’t be all that much help coming with that money saved and/or redistributed.

    • Cool Lester Smooth (Formerly YanksFanInBeantown)

      It’s not overpaying if everyone’s doing it. It just means that the new TV deals have increased the cost of a win.

      • toad

        Sort of. But you still have to look at the cost of FA’s versus what you pay cost-controlled players.

  • Dan G

    Either way it’s crucial to develop the FARM b/c of the tightened purse strings but when you add on top losing a perennial MVP candidate it’s even more important to develop talent if Cano leaves.

    The $20M+ can/will be used in other ways to shore up weak spots so it’s not like letting him walk saves a ton of money, it just replaces an All Star with lesser players. I am NOT saying the Billy Beane theory that 2 $10M players = 1 $20M player, (that’s another discussion) but the $ will get used. And if it doesn’t that just makes losing Cano even harder to swallow.

    The most important thing to win (which the Yankees haven’t done since Jeter was under the drinking age) is and always will be pitching. They need to hope Pineda, Banuelos and Hensley (and all of this year’s compensatory picks, fingers crossed) come back strong and/or develop into a front line starter. It’s MUCH easier to sign a middle of the order bat than it is to sign an Ace, especially these days (see, Pujols, King Felix). You’re pretty much on your own for pitching, so that’s the real need.

    • Govin

      I agree with what you said, but you confused me with the Jeter statement. He is 38 now this means he he was under the drinking age 17 years ago, which is like 1996, The Yankees last one it all 4 years ago. What exactly was your point with that statement

      • Mike HC

        I think he meant that they haven’t developed their own ace level starting pitching, Pettitte, since Jeter was below drinking age. I had trouble following that as well though and am still unsure.

        • Govin

          That would make some sense, I’m gonna go with that, thanks Mike.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    189 violation is binary–you get the same tax at 190 as you do at 210. There may be some value in getting clobbered in ’13 or ’14 in order to drop below it in ’15 while remaining competitive the entire time. The big difference could be where we are with Jeter, Tex, and, in my dreams, Arod.

  • OldYanksFan

    I think the issue is ‘to $189m or not to $189m’.
    If they stick with it, Cano or not, we will not be competative in 2014, and probably not in 2015. To me it signals a ‘retooling’ mode.

    If they forget about the $189, then resign Cano and proceed normally.

    The farm will ALWAYS be very important.
    Let’s remember the Dynasty was augmented by FAs, but built on the back of farmhands…. Jeter, Andy, Mo, Bernie and Jorge.

    Now, other teams have a lot more money to compete for FA’s, and elite FA’s cost far more per value than in the Giambi days.

    The farm must be a priority, and at the same time, we need to continue to spend big… but maybe a little bit more wisely.

    We should also keep in mind that the Yanks will spend $10m – $20m a year, not to get better, but to keep homegrown players/icons and display big names (NY style).

    ARod’s ‘big name’ will end up costing a small fortune.
    Jorge cost us money.
    Jeter made $30m over the past 2 years to post 3 bWAR.
    Cano may soon fall into this group…. overpaid over his contract length.

    I love that we keep ‘the Family’ together, but this ends up costing extra money.

  • trr

    The farm system is more important if he leaves. That’s a lot of production to fill!

  • Dalek Jeter

    I think if he leaves, simply because now on top of replacing ~10.5 WAR that Hughes, Kuroda, Pettite, and Granderson were worth, add an additional 7 WAR Cano, and only ~15-20 million more to find them.

  • Gonzo

    I voted farm is more valuable if he stays. I just think more open spots and more money gives you more flexibility how you use the farm system. If he stays, you have to use the farm system in more specific ways (because of position need and money constraint) that may leave in a position to extract less value than in the other situation.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    I didn’t vote because I think the farm system will be more important going forward anyway. It doesn’t matter if Cano resigns or not. It all depends on the team’s payroll. Will they increase the payroll after 2014? Will they stay below the luxury tax for several years? That’s the big question. The lower the payroll, the more important the farm system will be.

  • Gonzo

    Mike, how’d you vote?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I didn’t want to say it in the post because I didn’t want to sway votes, but I voted for if they re-sign him. Moshe says if they let him walk. I see it as having so much money tied in so few players that they’ll need cheap production somehow.

      • Gonzo

        I agreed a couple spots up. I think it’s easier to release the full value of your farm if you can be flexible.


    The “if he stays” only applies if the NYY stick to plan 189. Hal is reportedly waivering on that. If Hal has a more open ended budget signing Cano shouldn’t have as much of an impact.

  • RetroRob

    I can see why it’s a close vote, at least it as I hit post here. I debated it back and forth, and ultimately I voted for if he re-signs, although I’m saying that under the belief that Plan 189 holds. Cano will eat up a large chunk of the available cash, so they’ll need to start working in some of the OFers and pitchers in the minors.

    Yet, I feel like there should be a third choice. They’ll need the farm system either way.

    • CS Yankee

      The clear choice would be to pick the best FA and maintain the farm.

      The worse choice is to trade young talented players for aging Vets at the deadline.

      No fricken’ reason that they can’t sign the best and maintain the best…trading surplus OFers this year seemed good except the fact that they didn’t really need another RP. I understand letting Swish walk, passing on Josh, but to leave the catcher position to Stew’ and Gazoo is a bad, bad decision.

      IMHO, of course.