Nov
22

Knowing when to walk away

By
Don't you want to see this pretty swing next year? (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Don’t you want to see this pretty swing next year? (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

If you were the GM of the Tigers, and two winters ago you could have signed Prince Fielder to a two-year, $76 million contract, would you have? Paying him $38 million annually sounds steep, but getting him for only his age-28 and age-29 seasons mitigates that inflated salary. It’s a deal that Fielder never would have signed, but it’s the deal that the Tigers got. I imagine they’re happy with the way that turned out.

What the Tigers essentially did was walk away when they had the opportunity. Signing him two off-seasons ago was a play for the short-term. Detroit had just made the World Series and felt they weren’t far from a victory. While they did make the Series last year, and the ALCS this year, it became apparent that their roster had some weaknesses. The landscape changed, so Detroit acted while it had the opportunity.

The Yankees now have an opportunity to walk away from an enormous contract. They won’t get back a player, as the Tigers got with Ian Kinsler, other than whoever they can take with a low-30s draft pick, so the situations aren’t directly comparable. What they would gain is significant financial flexibility, something they apparently desire. While it might hurt, especially in 2014, Tyler Kepner of the NY Times argues that letting Robinson Cano walk is the right move.

The risks of long-term contracts for players already in their 30s is well documented. The Yankees need look no further than their own organization six years ago, when they signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year contract. In Rodriguez the Yankees see how injuries and performance decline can hamper even a generational talent. Cano, even as one of the league’s premier hitters, doesn’t quite reach A-Rod‘s level. So why sign him to a contract that could similarly cripple the organization?

Kepner’s argument centers on this kind of risk aversion. In discussing a 7-year, $161 million contract for Cano, Kepner says, “That kind of deal has put the Yankees in their present state — decaying and injury-prone — and the team needs to break the cycle.” The problem is that there isn’t any player, or even group of players, currently available that can help the Yankees as much as Cano. Even if the last three years of a seven-year deal are well below what his salary warrants, the Yankees still need Cano in those first four seasons.

Yes, but what about the Cardinals, who lost Albert Pujols and have done quite well without him? Kepner cites this case, noting that the Cardinals went on to sign Carlos Beltran and hand out a few extensions on the path to two playoff berths and a World Series appearance. While it sounds nice, it completely ignores the organizational differences between the Cardinals and the Yankees. For starters, Pujols wasn’t even the best hitter on the Cardinals in 2011; Lance Berkman and Matt Holiday each put up better numbers. They also had Allen Craig, who had broken out in 2011 and was ready for a regular gig. That’s not even bringing their robust farm system into the equation.

The Yankees have none of these things. Alfonso Soriano is solid, and Mark Teixeira could come back to produce next season, but even if both have fine years the Yanks still aren’t nearly as deep as the Cardinals. There is no Yadier Molina, there is no Allen Craig, there’s no Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter. There is, hopefully, an Adam Wainwright in CC Sabathia, but there’s no Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, or Shelby Miller. If the Yankees plan to contend in 2014 they need to do it with a heavy top-end. That’s not going to work without Cano.

What about punting 2014? That’s not a strategy that really pays off in baseball. The Astros are trying it now, and even then it’s going to take them several more years to get even a little feedback on their experiment. Getting a draft pick for Robbie is nice, and getting a higher draft pick next year would be nice as well. But are those two picks going to turn around the organization? Doubtful. Even if they do, it will take years and years for that process to play out. Does anyone have that kind of patience?

The alternative is using the $23 or so million for Cano and spreading it to a few other players. Kepner lists the possibilities, and we’re familiar with all the names. But it’s not as though the Yankees can take Cano’s salary and somehow turn it into two high-end free agents. Brian McCann will cost between $15 and $18 million himself. Shin-Soo Choo might cost even more. Perhaps savings from Cano, plus the other money the team has available, can turn into three free agents. But none of them will be as good as Cano.

Therein lies the choice. Do you bring in the superstar, understanding that he’s your only superstar, or do you spread the wealth a bit? People love to cite how the Red Sox spread the wealth last winter, but fail to mention that they already had a superstar on board in David Ortiz and a damn good first mate in Dustin Pedroia. Again, the Yankees don’t have that. They can’t replicate what the Cardinals or Red Sox did, because their franchise is in a completely different position right now.

The biggest risk with Cano, or any other long-term contract, lies in the later years. Given how he’s performed in the last few years, it’s difficult to imagine Cano declining much, if at all, in the next year or so. If he can manage a graceful decline (anything but guaranteed), the last three to four years of a seven- or eight-year contract will be the ones that hurt. This is actually good news for the Yankees. In year-five of a potential Cano deal, they have zero dollars in current obligations. In year-four they have just $26 million.

In other words, this isn’t some situation where they hand out $700 million in five-plus-year contracts within the span of two off-seasons. They’ve done a good job of limiting obligations in the last few years, and given their lack of future payroll the effort is starting to show. Adding Cano now will hurt if they sign a bunch of five- and six-year deals in the next two off-seasons. Given the market, I don’t think it will come to that.

As Mike has noted, frequently, this off-season, even if the Yanks add Cano, Carlos Beltran or Jhonny Peralta, and Masahiro Tanaka, they still might not contend in 2014. But even if they’re going to struggle again next year, they still have needs in 2015 and beyond. Letting Cano go stands directly in opposition to those future goals.

Just because some other teams played the market a certain way doesn’t mean the Yankees should follow suit. They’re in a different position than those teams. Given their current roster, and the fruits on the farm, Cano become an essential piece to not only potential contention in 2014, but also 2015 and beyond. Letting him walk, especially at seven years and $161 million, a deal he’ll almost certainly exceed, because other teams did something similar, would be foolish. The Yankees need Cano just as much as Cano needs the Yankees.

Categories : Musings

139 Comments»

  1. Baked McBride says:

    Put Sori back at second and bring back Aaron Boone to play third
    Voila
    done
    Next?

  2. Frank says:

    7/161 is still way more than I’d pay him. I’d let him go and take my chances.

  3. Dr. TJ Eckelberg says:

    It strikes me that with the future payroll considerations (having so little on the books) that you can justify signing Cano, but IF, and only if, you only take on additional free agents at small money and/or small year deals. This makes a Cano+Beltran+Tanaka trio make sense, but not a Cano+Ellsbury/Choo/McCann deal.

    You aren’t going to get a bargain in Cano, but you will get a middle of the order presence. It’s not Alex that’s killing the Yankees, it’s Alex+Sabathia+Texieria+Jeter(to some extent). In 5 years if you only have a couple of those deals instead of 4-5 with some great player development I think we will be looking at a much healthier franchise.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Even without great development (middling will do) you’ll still have at least 189 in payroll (probably) and only one or two huge contracts going by your plan.

      That sounds like a healthy big money franchise to me.

      • Dr. TJ Eckelberg says:

        Agree.

        For me the main point is that huge contracts aren’t the problem, multiple huge and long (that’s what she said) contracts with no value on the roster is the problem.

    • D$1184 says:

      Not interested in the Cano/Tanaka/Beltran line of things–that would mean sacrificing that 18th pick for Beltran, something I’m not interested in doing.

      Now Cano/Tanka/McCann/Beltran? I’m interested.

  4. viridiana says:

    Yes, Cano at 7/$161 may make sense. But he certainly doesn’t at 10/$305 or anything remotely close. I would go as high as 7/$182. If that’s not good enough, I’d prefer a McCann-Beltran or McCann-Grandy or maybe even a Peralta-Salty-Infante combo. Yanks can’t win with simple addition of Cano. They need to add probably three good bats (as well as pitching). If Hal has the chops — which I somehow doubt — he will gamble that A-Rod will be suspended for at least 100 games. That extra $16 or 17 million will make a big difference — especially when combined with the $25 mill saved on Cano.

  5. Need Pitching & Hitting says:

    Well said.
    The issue I see though is they likely need to add multiple big players over the next year or 2 to seriously contend in that timespan.
    That likely means multiple big, long-term contracts.
    They should be able to rather easily weather a bad second half of Cano’s contract with a typical $200M+ payroll, or even a luxury tax avoiding $189M payroll, because Tex, ARod, and CC should be off the books by then.
    But, if they have to go 5+ years for other contracts to surround Cano with enough talent to seriously contend in 2014-15, that adds the potential for having multiple bad contracts at the same time again, which could be a major issue, especially if their player development results continue the way they’ve been lately and they continue to work under the luxury tax threshold.
    Operating in the payroll range the Yankees operate allows them to withstand the likely rough backend of a bad contract or 2, but only if they can somewhat balance that with cheap production in some major roles from young players.
    They need to try to avoid having too many long-term contracts expiring at about the same time, and they need to get more cheap production from their farm system.

  6. Nick says:

    I think it makes more sense for the Yankees to trade for Brandon Phillips. He has 4 yrs and 50M left on the contract and supposedly the Reds are looking to shed salary. I would much rather have 4 years of Phillips than 8-10 years of Cano even with BP’s age. Trading for BP still gives the Yankees financial flexibility and the compensatory draft pick when Cano leaves.

    • jjyank says:

      Huge pass on Phillips for me. He was about league average in 2012 and below average in 2013. No way do I want to see what Phillips looks like over the next four years.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Yup, Phillips is going to age like all other 2B. Cano’s durability has so far proven to be the exception rather than the rule.

  7. MoMoney says:

    Good points and having Cano would be great I think the numbers you use are big assumptions. They are similar to Joey Votto EXTENSION numbers not free agent numbers. If he gets halfway between your number and his agents (28mil) they are crazy to pay that for 7 years. It is 2 of the other top free agents and having Cano at age 37 vs shorter commitments to other free agents will be no picnic. Give me McCann for 5, Beltran for 2, and Tanaka for 5 with a similar overall investment.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Problem with that is, to seriously contend this year, they probably need Cano AND McCann, Beltran, Tanaka, another good SP, and some relievers and left side of the IF help (or something close to that).

  8. Bo Knows says:

    Thing is if you’re letting Cano walk, then just stop with the bs “we’ll still contend” and just say this team is going to have a season or two of rebuilding and tear the whole thing down. This team will not contend without Cano, and wasting money and picks to sign Players with QO just to perpetuate a lie and further destroy the future is a James Dolan-esque move of stupidity.

    I want Cano back, he is a franchise player you can retool around (can’t say rebuild because he is 31) and contend.

  9. CS Yankee says:

    Great, well reasoned article.

    I would go 10/200M$ or 7/160M$ or 5/125M$…his choice; a 20, a 22.85 & a 25M$ annual value which shouldn’t burden the future too much while keeping an elite player.

    Forget about the pick as they’ll need to grab a couple of FA and lose a few picks regardless.

  10. mt says:

    The other problem with letting Cano walk is that we oversestimate how many free agents we will be able to buy and underestimate how bad those contracts might be in their own right. Let’s say Cano is at $27 million per year for 7 years – but McCann, based on Ruiz contract, is either going to get something like 5 years at $90 – $100 million or maybe the tiebreaker for the team he eventually chooses is that one desperate team that gives him a sixth (!!!) year at $108 mm or something. Is Beltran really limited to 2 years maximum as was hoped for at beginning of free agency or given the interest he has attracted will he definitely get a 3rd year at $45-$48 million?

    If Cano walks, I still don’t see the Yanks playing at McCann/Choo/Ellsbury level and doing a good job in “replacing” Cano. I agree that the Infante/Tanaka/Beltran (even though more expensive than we initially thought) combo might be best they could do (of course, Tanaka’s posting has to happen and Yanks have to win it.)

  11. TWTR says:

    How much longer will Cano be able to be a .900ish OPS player? My guess is no more than four years. For two consecutive seasons, his OPS v. LHP is under .800. Will that be a continuing trend.

    Those uncertainties are why the Yankees should not give him over six years.

  12. RetroRob says:

    There is nothing wrong with paying for the decline years. It’s part of the financial equation of MLB. Get players cheaply and way below-market value during their early years, pay heavily when they become free agents. If a team wants to look at “cost per win,” it’s not the individual, but the overall cost to the team. The blend of the cheap and the higher-priced talent.

    Paying for decline years is fine. It’s the way the system is set up and the Yankees can afford to play that game. What they want to avoid is a total collapse of the player where they are paying 20+ million a year for someone who is no longer even playing, as could be the case with A-Rod and his contract in the final three years.

  13. Darren says:

    It’s true that if the Yankees let Cano walk they’ll have increased payroll flexibility.

    It’s also true that if you turned down a date with Kate Upton, you’d have more free time.

  14. lou says:

    6 years/$115M

  15. Bavarian Yankee says:

    they should’ve traded him at the deadline for some useful pieces. Let’s face it: the Yanks screwed up big time. They should’ve extended Cano like 2 years ago or traded him at the deadline. Now they can decide what’s better: another albatross contract or a supplemental pick. I’m ready to walk away, those albatross contracts never work out.

    Here’s my plan, probably pretty similar to those of most people:
    sign Beltran to replace Cano short-term in the middle of the lineup and hope he stays healthy. Add Infante, Peralta and re-sign Granderson. Try to get Tanaka and get 1 out of Haren/Garza/Jimenez/Kuroda (maybe even 2 if there’s enough money left). A cheap catcher would be nice, no matter if they sign or trade for him (somebody like Hanigan). Throw in some relievers, some bench guys as well and the Yanks have a decent team that shouldn’t be any worse than the 2013 Yanks. Of course signing all these guys (to reasonable contracts as well) is easier said than done but it’s not impossible.

    In the end all of what I’ve just written is a waste of time. We all know they’ll re-sign Cano and we all know they’ll be stupid enough to bid against themselves again. I’m just waiting for the 9/234 contract to become reality.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      I’m not sure matching the 2013 Yankees is something to aspire to, especially if they are giving out long-term contracts in the process.
      If that’s the goal, just rebuild.

    • nyyankfan7 says:

      “They should have traded him at the deadline”

      You’re right; HUGE Cashman fail – he should have traded their best player like all smart GM’s do when they are only a few games out of the playoff race. I mean when the deadline passed and we were sitting 3 games out of the wildcard it completely turned me off from watching the rest of the season because Cano was still there and I thought we still had a chance to make the playoffs, now a deadline firesale and throwing in the towel at that point would have definately made me continue to tune in for the final 2 months. God these dumbasses act like they are running a business and trying to maxamize profits and not doing what fans think is best for the team 10 years from now – damn greedy bastards.

      • jjyank says:

        Agreed.

        (with the point implied through sarcasm, not the actual written words)

      • Bavarian Yankee says:

        “I mean when the deadline passed and we were sitting 3 games out of the wildcard …”

        you’re right but we all knew the chances to make the playoffs were pretty slim. Do I trade my superstar player to maybe save an almost lost season instead trading him for multiple guys that may help for several years at low costs? I would, maybe other people wouldn’t.

        • jjyank says:

          You need to think about this outside of your vacuum, though. This is the Yankees. They don’t trade away MLB talent mid-season for prospects while they’re in the playoff hunt.

          Most teams wouldn’t even do that. It’s not a realistic thing to expect, in my opinion.

          • Bavarian Yankee says:

            maybe it isn’t realistic to expect that. Then again other teams are in this situation like once in 5 years, they do everything to make the playoffs. The Yanks on the other side are there almost every year, they can (maybe have to) take a different approach than other teams. Everybody knew the chance to win anyhting in 2013 is pretty small, so why not bring in some well needed prospects for the future? And hey, they still could’ve signed Cano as a FA.

            • nyyankfan7 says:

              “They still could have signed Cano as a FA”

              This is the absolute stupidest (yeah I said stupidest because it really is that stupid) and most repeated phrase on this website.

              Never happened before, never will happen. Plus no team in their right mind would trade any prospect you’d consider worth a shit for 2 months of a guy and not get a window to sign him to a long term deal.

              And jjyank – you’re wrong “most teams wouldn’t do that” – should be NO team would ever do that. They were 3 games out at the deadline – no team would ever give up at that point. They don’t care what some janitor / wanna be GM on a Yankees message board thinks of their team. They care about making money because they aren’t fans, they are businessmen. They made millions of more dollars because they didn’t trade away all good players just because a few internet trolls think it is a good idea.

              • jjyank says:

                In my defense, I try not to speak in absolutes as a general rule of thumb, hence why I said most instead of none.

                But I agree with you. Teams don’t trade their best player for prospects when they’re in contention. I get the concept, and I understand the logic. I just prefer to consider options that actually have a chance to happen in the real world. Trading Cano at the deadline would be fantasy land, in my opinion.

              • Bavarian Yankee says:

                “Plus no team in their right mind would trade any prospect you’d consider worth a shit for 2 months of a guy and not get a window to sign him to a long term deal.”

                not sure if serious. Those deals happen almost every year. Cliff Lee from SEA to TEX for example.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              I think there’s a greater chance that I’d deliver on an online promise of giving you a million dollars than the “re-sign” scenario happening. Sorry.

              Want a million bucks, BY? :)

            • MannyGeee says:

              If you think there was a chance in hell that Cano would be traded away and still be available to resign with the Yankees, then you are living in a video game world, chief.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          They vacillated greatly between slim and reasonable before it was all said and done.

          Besides, I wouldn’t walk away from a slim chance. I don’t like what that says to a fan base. You fight until the last guy standing falls.

      • TWTR says:

        That wouldn’t be Cashman’s decison.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Very good point. That’s the kind of thing that gets decided above the FO.

          Surrendering on the season would have sent a terrible signal. All the people claiming that Hal is just mailing it in and lying about wanting to contend more than wanting to get under the budget would have had their fears confirmed.

      • Chris in Maine says:

        I agree that they should have kept him, but it is not unheard of.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Flag_Trade

    • Dicka24 says:

      I typed something similar just now, but I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees sign anyone that requires draft pick compensation. I’d only target guys that cost only money. The Yankees need as many picks as possible to replenish and develop the farm system. Also, there isn’t a ton of difference between a Garza and a Jimenez, so target the one that doesn’t cost you a pick.

      I think Granderson is a must resign, if the team is serious about walking away from Cano. They’ll need Grandy’s power.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        Signing Granderson would entail losing a (compensatory) draft pick.

        • Dicka24 says:

          No it wouldn’t. He’s their own FA. It would mean not “gaining” an extra pick from somebody else. You don’t lose a pick if you resign your own FA. You only lose a pick if you sign a tendered player from a different team. If your point is that resigning him means you forfeit the “ability” to get an extra pick from someone else, then sure. However, you can’t “lose” something you didn’t have to begin with. IMO at least.

          • jjyank says:

            That’s just semantics. Re-signing Granderson means not having a supplemental pick. It’s the same regardless of how you word it.

            • Dicka24 says:

              Actually it’s not semantics. It’s reality. You don’t “lose” a pick if you resign Granderson. So the Yankees “lose” a pick if they resign Cano? That’s nonsense. As of right now, the Yankees have one 1st round pick. Their own. You can’t “lose” what you don’t have. They don’t “have” a supplemental pick right now.

              • jjyank says:

                Yes, it is semantics. The two options are “Granderson and no pick” and “no Granderson and a pick”. Regardless of how you want to phrase it, whether you “lose” the pick, or you “lose the opportunity to have a pick”, it’s the same situation. By re-signing Granderson, they miss an opportunity to have a pick. Phrase if however you want. This is an incredibly dumb argument.

    • jjyank says:

      “I’m ready to walk away, those albatross contracts never work out.”

      I don’t think that’s a viable strategy. You’re basically saying that you don’t want the Yankees to sign any premier free agents. It’s the way the system is set up. You can’t avoid big contracts if you want to sign stars.

      I’m more optimistic about the farm system than most, but given where the farm is right now, the Yankees won’t be contending if they’re not signing guys.

      One more point regarding your claim that they should have extended Cano two years ago: They already extended him to a below market salary. Why would Cano give another discount? It’s his turn to get paid.

      • Bavarian Yankee says:

        true, you can’t avoid big contracts. I’m not saying they shouldn’t sign players to big contracts at all but it always depends on the player. I just don’t trust ANY middle infielder to be above or just be AT league average past age 35. Why? Because 98% of them aren’t. I’d be willing to hand out monster contracts to some players, Cano isn’t one of them.

        “They already extended him to a below market salary. Why would Cano give another discount? It’s his turn to get paid.”

        Well, we never knew what would’ve happened because they didn’t even try to extend him. Sure, they would’ve been handing out a big contract anyway BUT you always save some $ if you have some years of team control left and extend someone AND instead of signing him through age 40 you could’ve signed him through age 38. I’d say they could’ve extended him for 8/160 2 years ago and he would’ve accepted.

    • MannyGeee says:

      ‘I’m ready to walk away, those albatross contracts never work out.’

      The 2009 World Series Champions would like to have a word with you…

  16. lou says:

    Knowing when he should have been traded away.

  17. Dicka24 says:

    Let Cano test the market, and see what teams are offering him. I think he’ll be unlikely to find a better deal than the Yankees have offered in. In fact he might not find as good a deal, where which I would offer him less, or something comparable. Why overpay, or negotiate against yourself? Furthermore, where’s the market for Cano going to come from? Most of the big players, or big spenders, are not in the market for his services. Redsox have Pedy, Detroit has Kinlser, Texas has Profar, Dodgers have the Cuban, Angels have Kendrick, etc. Also, a lot of teams already have big ticket, post 30 players signed to long deals, and may not be interested in signing another post 30 players for 7-10 years at $25 million plus. There obviously will be a market of some kind, and as the saying goes “it only takes one team”, but if Cano prefers to pick Seattle over the Yankees, so be it. I can’t imagine he would.

    That $25 million per could potentially go to signing say Garza & Infante. Neither of whom would cost you a draft pick. Obviously I’d much rather resign Cano, but if the dollars are ridiculous, It might make more sense to take the pick, and sign two or three middle class FA’s, to shorter, more team friendly deals. I hate to bring up the Redsox, but being from Boston, everyone thought they totally overpaid for guys like Victorino, Gomes, and Dempster, but the one thing most everyone around here did see, was that they were all shorter deals. Its easier to swallow an overpayment over 2 to 3 years, than it is to overpay by tens of millions, till a player is baseball elderly.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      It’s also harder to find still great/elite players on 2-3 year deals.
      Most 1-3 year, mid-range deals don’t result in performances anywhere like Victorino and Napoli provided.
      Dempster was overpaid.

      • Dicka24 says:

        I don’t think anyone expects to sign great to elite talent with 2-3 year deals. I’d hardly point to guys like Napoli, Victorino, Gomes, or Dempster as elite or great. They’re simply middle class ball players. The Yankees made a living with players like those in their title days. The simply point is that the team is better off getting better at multiple positions, under better contract terms, than it may be in overpaying at one position with a bad, team crippling, long term contract. It’s a general point more or less, since we don’t truly know what Cano’s contract will look like, nor do we know what those middle class types like Peralta, Infante, Garza, etc. will eventually get.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          Gomes and Dempster definitely aren’t elite.
          Victorino gave them a 5.8 fWAR season (borderline elite)
          Napoli gave them a 3.9 fWAR season (very good)
          Those performances aren’t anywhere near typical of what you’d get on those short-term deals.
          Generally those shorter deals go to average-ish players (around 2 WAR).
          The Yankees title teams were build on a HOF/borderline HOF core surrounded by several very good/ above average players and a few complimentary pieces.
          The current Yankees are devoid of the elite players to build around, and even mostly devoid of the next tier great/very good players.
          The 2009 Yankees had 8 players/pitchers with at least 3 fWAR.
          The 2000 Yankees had 6.
          The 1999 Yankees had 6.
          The 1998 Yankees had 10.
          The 1996 Yankees had 5.

          The current Yankee roster has only 1 player who managed a 3 fWAR season in 2013 (Gardner).
          Not that fWAR is the be all or end all of anything, but this team is starved for big impact players. They’d be lucky to get more than 1 or 2 you’d realistically expect to be a 3 WAR player on a 1-3 year deal in the current market, much less the 4-5 they’d probably need to find to be a likely playoff team.
          There is no reason a Cano contract would have to be team crippling. For a team with the Yankees payroll, even at $189M, one bad contract isn’t going to cripple the team. Multiple bad contracts and getting nothing from the farm system could cripple the team.

    • mitch says:

      Even with a shorter deal you’re going to have to give guys more years than you’d like to. That’s how the market is. Year 5 of Garza or even year 2 of Beltran are just as likely to be ugly as year 7 of Cano. Obviously the worst case scenario for Cano is way more crippling, but he’s also more likely to accumulate surplus value during the front half of the contract.

    • MannyGeee says:

      The Boston situation is as close as you can get to best possible case scenarios.

      Don’t believe the hype: Victorino was as cooked as cooked before the Sox signed him, and if he comes CLOSE to those numbers in the NEXT 2 COMBINED, I will eat Ben’s hat. If he played ANYWHERE other than Boston, they’d be checking his piss. Like, alot.

      Napoli is one bad squat from never playing baseball again, and the Red Sox were big time shady when they aired his hip injury out in the media in order to stronghold him into taking the 1 year deal.

  18. Caballo Sin Nombre says:

    I vote rebuild. Trying to contend will result in an upside of mere contention. This team ain’t going to add another WS banner no matter what they do. I vote: eat dirt in 2014, show off the young stuff in 2015, contend in 2016 and have a serious shot at the WS in 2017.

  19. jjyank says:

    Well said, Joe. There is, of course, a tipping point at which the Yankees should walk away. I’m not sure what that point is for me, though.

    I absolutely think Cano needs to come back. Sure, the last couple of years may not be pretty, but he very well might put up enough value on the front end to justify that. Most big contracts aren’t going to look good by the end. But the way the free agent market is shaping up (not just this year), those types of contracts are going to be pretty necessary. With young talent locked up and premier free agents becoming more rare, signing big contracts will be unavoidable, unless you just don’t want any premier free agents. It’s real easy for someone to type “No big contracts! Get younger!” on the internet, but it’s much more difficult in practice.

    Unless the Yankees get really lucky with a few mid-tier free agents, it’s going to be difficult to contend if they avoid big contracts all together.

    #victorylap

  20. MartinRanger says:

    I would take Kepner a lot more seriously if his Cano replacement wasn’t Brandon Phillips and he still expects the Yankees to contend.

    • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

      As a Yankees fan, why is mere “contention” acceptable?

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        You have to be a contender to make the playoffs.
        If you make the playoffs, anything can happen.

      • jjyank says:

        That sounds incredibly spoiled, you know.

        The MLB has made major strides to create parity in the game. Also, contending is a necessary prerequisite to winning.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Because Caballo Sin Nombre’s plan of magic and wonderment where a complete rebuild takes just one bad, one decent, one good, and one great season is nonsense. A marked majority of rebuilds don’t work nearly that quickly and often don’t result in that big a jump in performance.

        Contention is the goal. No one can build a “World Series team.” It doesn’t exist, because no one knows what a season of baseball will bring. People have crowned the Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers (twice), and Blue Jays the Offseason Champions over the last several years. They’ve been wrong every time.

        • jjyank says:

          This. You’d think people would learn by now. Nobody knows what a World Championship team is, exactly. Did anybody think the Giants were the best team in baseball the two years they won? There is too much uncertainty and too many opportunities for the landscape to change over a 162 game season. Baseball is very unique in that regard.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          …..and, remember, they can’t develop anyone, so the rebuild is doomed to fail. Anyone want some funky Kool-Aid?

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Because you have to start somewhere.

        If I’m not contending, I don’t have a chance at the WS. Nothing is handed to you. This is all speaking in retrospect. There’s not a single team on this earth that’s guaranteed a playoff spot at the start of a season.

  21. mitch says:

    Using the Arod contract as a reason not to resign Cano is dumb. There’s very little similarity unless we’re assuming Cano is going to sign a 12 year contract.

  22. Fin says:

    The thing that worries me about signing Cano is the state of the team right now, and possibly for the next several years. Who knows how much longer Cano will produce at the rate he is right now. Say its 2 more years, will the Yankees even make the playoffs in the next 2 years? It seems a lot of these guys don’t start slowly declining either, they drop off a cliff. I’m afraid they will be paying him for his productive years while the team isn’t productive. Then when they maybe ready to contend again, he may no longer be productive and they are stuck with his contract.

    I’d be all for Cano if help was coming from the minor leagues, but I don’t see how you can rebuild this entire team through FA and pay Cano what he is going to get, while staying under $189. If they had a more reasonable plan of slowly bringing the salary down over several years, it would seem more feesable. I guess my bottom line is that with no help coming from the minors, reducing payroll by $60m or so, Arod, Tex and CC with huge contracts that there may be no immediate fix for this team and that Cano’s contract may be a drag on the team by the time they turn things around.

    All this goes out the window of course if they don’t stay to the $189 plan, but I don’t think that will be the case.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      but I don’t see how you can rebuild this entire team through FA and pay Cano what he is going to get, while staying under $189.
      I agree.
      If they don’t plan on making a serious push to build a strong team for 2014-15, signing Cano just doesn’t make sense to me.
      Given the current state of the Yankee roster, I firmly believe a serious push to build a strong team that is likely to make the playoffs is going to require more than $189M, probably significantly more.

      • Fin says:

        Yep. And we really wont know exactly what their salary plans are for 2 or 3 years. I think its pretty clear $189 is happening this year. The question is, is that a permanent number or a 1 time thing? I tend to think that will be their self imposed salary cap going forward. Much like how Boston has operated. They can clearly go over $189 but, I think they only did 1x and not by much.

        • Havok9120 says:

          “I think its pretty clear $189 is happening this year.”

          Based on what do you think that’s clear? I think we’ll have a good idea of that in January or February, but now?

          “I tend to think that will be their self imposed salary cap going forward.”

          Again, why? I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense, I’m saying it doesn’t make any more sense than the idea that they just want to reset the luxury tax number and get a bit of the revenue sharing money back. Maybe they’ll also stay under in 2015 to get the full revenue sharing benefit. We’ve yet to get much in the way of indication in any direction.

          I agree that, in a vacuum, if they’re gonna stay under 189 for the foreseeable future, then yes, the best move for the team on the field might be to let him go and wait until more of the big contracts come off the books. But this isn’t a vacuum, and I don’t think the Yanks want to see what unequivocally signaling “we have no interest in competing for the next few seasons” does to attendance or ratings.

          • Fin says:

            Well for this year, its clear for me at least because of the moves made last offseason…Letting Martin and Swisher go and replacing them with Ichiro and Stewie. Just my opinion but to me they were gearing up for payroll drop. Not to mention all of Hal’s statements were about getting under $189, and I personally feel his… we will do whatever it takes to win comments alluding to the fact they would go over $189 if they had to, was just lip service to placate the fans.

            Going forward as a cap…When Hal first announced his $189 and all that hes a numbers guy talk, and how the Yankees should be able to be competitive at that number. I don’t think he will go back on that plan, that he and his family want the team run under the cap.

            I also feel, again just my opinion…That now that there in no longer just one Stienbrenner getting the money from the Yankees but a whole family of Stiens that more money is probably needed.

            Again, you asked me and all of these are just my opinions.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              “Because that’s what we were doing” isn’t a good reason to continue doing something if it’s not in your benefit. Every chance to bring in a new player should involve a reconsidering of the goal. They shouldn’t be afraid to change course.

              Of course, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with free wifi drinking weak coffee right now and they’re bathing in money.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          They say over and over its a goal, and people choose not to hear it.

          That’s not to say it won’t happen, but goddamn already. If you have that little trust in the team, find a new favorite team.

          This is a general “you,” by the way, and not specifically directed at you.

          • Fin says:

            I don’t know why you cant believe the Yankees plan on staying under the luxury tax, and not continue to be a fan.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              That’s not what I meant to say.

              What I meant was that I don’t understand how someone can just think the org can do nothing right and remain a fan. At some point, being the self-loathing fan can’t be fun.

              This is why I don’t have a favorite NFL team.

              Again, not you specifically.

  23. Preston says:

    I think the serious contract conversations for Cano are going to start around Teixeira’s 8/180 and finish closer to Fielder’s 9/214. I’d probably do it too. By the time that contract goes bad there will be a new CBA, 189 will probably be out the window, and who knows how high AAV’s for players will have skyrocketed. I just know that I don’t want to watch the Yankees in 2014-2016 without Cano on the team.

    • Fin says:

      I’m not sure I agree with that. With the Yankees being the only team going over $189, I don’t see them raising the cap. The cap seems to be in place explicitly for the Yankees. The Dodgers might be another team now going over the cap, but I cant see the rest of the owners wanting to raise it.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        The cap has risen in every CBA since the luxury tax was implemented.
        It appears the yearly increases might be gone for good, but I’d guess the players association would continue to fight for (and likely get) continued increases, especially if they think the cap is constraining the spending of multiple teams (right now, it seems the Yankees (maybe, Red Sox, and Angels basically use it as a cap).

      • Havok9120 says:

        The Yankees spent a good long time being the only team over the cap at all. They’ve been the only team to be consistently over the cap since it was introduced. It has, nonetheless, gone up in every CBA. Even if they keep the regular annual increases off the table, there’s still reason to believe that the cap will continue to increase. Unless you think the MLBPA will be out of business by the time the next round of negotiations start up.

      • Preston says:

        Like others have said the cap has risen every CBA, when you consider the huge influx of cash into the game, the players union is going to be clamoring with good cause to raise it significantly. On the ownership side the Yankees have always stood alone on the other side of wanting no luxury tax threshold. Having another team come to the other side gives them significantly greater bargaining power, and who knows by then the Red Sox and Angels might want to spend more without consequence(maybe even Cubs and Mets if they ever become competitive enough that spending is worthwhile). Additionally small market teams might decide that having such high luxury taxes in this CBA just means that the big boys won’t go over and they get less revenue sharing. I’m just saying a million things could happen, but I expect a 2017 Yankee payroll to be closer to 250 million than 189.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I wouldn’t do 9/214. No way. 8/180 is the “ok, I cry uncle” amount I won’t admit I’d do.

  24. Fin says:

    I would also say that this is poor planning again by the Yankees. They have known for a couple years that they were going to go under $189 and they still stuck to the plan of not signing players until they hit FA. They should have tried to extend Cano when they decided they were doing the $189 plan. He could be going into, say year 3 of an 8yr deal.

    Maybe, he had made too much money already and they couldn’t have worked out a deal, but they didn’t even try. Its seems they had no actual plan on how to stay competitive while drastically lowering payroll. The Yankees really are just winging it.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Do we know they didn’t try? I honestly don’t know and am asking. I don’t recall the Yanks or Cano ever confirming no attempts at an extension were made.

      • Fin says:

        I remember the questions being asked of the Yankees and a Cano extension and the answer always being that they don’t negotiate contracts blah blah blah.

      • qwerty says:

        Cano wanted the last two years of his contract thrown out and an extension. However, considering that his agent was Scott Boras one has to wonder what their demands would have been. Needless to say the yankees never considered the idea.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      And Cano would have grabbed his balls and tried to stick them in Hal’s mouth.

  25. j says:

    There is plenty reason to be leery of signing him. He’s 31 years old, and signing guys over 30 to long term deals is a recipe for disaster. But, what is the alternative here?

    We have to sign someone, as without a lot of activity in the FA market this team has no chance at contention, both this year and in the near future. The farm system does not have anyone who is going to produce for us anytime soon. Standing pat will get us three or four years of irrelevancy at best.

    All the other good FA are in a similar boat as Robinson. Choo – 32 and will likely demand a 5+ year deal. McCann – 29 and is a catcher, which doesn’t bode well for early/mid 30′s production.

    You can blame the farm system for putting us in the position of being reliant on FA. The point is, I’d rather give Cano a seven year deal than go five for Choo or four for McCann. All the options are shit, and Cano is the least shitty.

  26. Coolerking101 says:

    “Soriano is solid.”

    WTF? I know he played the part for a few weeks in 2013, but c’mon. He’s had an OBP of .300 or under two out of the last three years. He hit .230/.280/.450 against righties in what was a banner year for him last year. He’s going to be 37.5 next year and the Yanks are going to trot him out every day. Does no one else this guy is going to turn into a pumpkin just like Raul Ibanez in 2012?

  27. Frank says:

    This is a decision that should have been made about 5 months ago. Along with similar decisions on Hughes and Granderson and Kuroda and others. Smart teams decide if they’re in or, or will be able to sign a player after the season, and then decide if they’re going to trade him or sign him. The Yankees NEVER do that b/c they’re always worried about the here and now. Imagine they had traded Cano to the Rangers for Profar, Kuroda to the Dodgers for Pederson or Saeger or Lee or whoever, and Hughes for a bucket of balls…half kidding. They’d be in a much better position both now and for the long term future. Instead, they held onto the hope of making the playoffs and that quickly petered out. Now they have no youth, may get nothing for cano or kuroda but a couple of picks that they may then end up losing for signing over the hill beltran. It never ends with these guys. I’m sorry, but I’d rather try to get a guy like profar at pennies per year than sign cano for 23MM per over the next 6-8 years. I love cano, but he’s not going to be worth that much beyond 3-4 years of that deal and then we’re right back where we started with bloated contracts for older players.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      I rather doubt the Rangers would have traded Profar for half a season of Cano.
      In fact, I guarantee they wouldn’t.
      And Hirok had a no-trade clause, that he’s used to prevent midseason trades in the past.
      In your fantasy scenario, they would’ve been better off.
      Unfortunately, your scenario is completely devoid of reality.

      The should’ve traded Cano for Trout instead.

    • qwerty says:

      No, the time to have made those trades was during the offseason. They should have reloaded then and made a few smart signings and trades of their own. If they had traded Granderson, Hughes, Gardner, Nova, Cano, Joba, and possibly Teixeira they’d be more than ready for 2014 and beyond. Instead they are in the saddest state they’ve been in since 2008 or worse.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        I thought they had 2 potentially good options last year.
        1) The win now approach. Really strengthen the roster and aggressively fill holes/ weaknesses for one last swan song playoff run for Mo and Andy. (the more expensive and shorter window of success option)
        or
        2) The build approach. Basically do what you said.

        Instead they chose option 3. Do very little for the future and half-ass the present.
        I have a feeling that’s how things are going to play out this offseason as well.

    • Havok9120 says:

      You think it wasn’t?

      I’m serious. Do you actually think that they waited until the offseason to consider whether or not to pursue Cano? They decided to keep him and compete this season rather than try a fire sale just like they’ve decided they’ll try to negotiate him into coming back. That you don’t like their decisions doesn’t mean that they’re idiots who waiting ’till the last minute before trying to draw up a plan.

  28. Ghost of Joe Dugan says:

    You think the Tigers are happy they paid $76 million for one year of great production and one year of slightly above average production from Prince Fielder? Especially considering they didn’t need a 1B to begin with? I actually do think there is a very good chance he would have taken a 2 yr $76 million contract two years ago if offered. He may have wished he hadn’t after his disappointing year this year.

    I expect the Yankees to again bid against themselves and sign Cano to an overvalued contract. He will be overpaid by year 3 of the deal and his name will be a dirty word as early as year 5. These deals that start at the end of a players prime almost always look bad a few years later. The Yanks should have let A-Rod and CC go after they opted out and they should let Cano go if he’s not willing to sign a deal that reasonably could be expected to equate with his expected value returned on the field.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Signing Cano to a long-term deal right now isn’t a very good idea.

      Unfortunately, given their current state, if the Yankees wish to seriously contend over the next couple of years, giving Cano a long-term deal might be one of the better and more necessary options among many variously bad options.

  29. Captain Turbo says:

    If they go more than 7 years, they’ve learned nothing.

  30. Robinson Tilapia says:

    “The biggest risk with Cano, or any other long-term contract, lies in the later years. Given how he’s performed in the last few years, it’s difficult to imagine Cano declining much, if at all, in the next year or so. If he can manage a graceful decline (anything but guaranteed), the last three to four years of a seven- or eight-year contract will be the ones that hurt. This is actually good news for the Yankees. In year-five of a potential Cano deal, they have zero dollars in current obligations. In year-four they have just $26 million.”

    I don’t know why this isn’t talked about more often. This is exactly where my head has been at all along. You can’t avoid big contracts, by you can do better if you don’t have five guys under them at the same time.

    • Fin says:

      I don’t talk about it, because that would be assuming there are no big contracts given between now and when Cano’s contract ends. Hell, they could sign the contract with Cano and give Hanley the same contract next year.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Who is the mistake, then? Cano, Hanley, or the next two?

        To me the problem is loss of flexibility in what you can do, not the deals in and of themselves.

        Let’s stick to what we know and not create bad scenarios as if they already happened.

        • Fin says:

          I don’t know if either would be a bad deal in a vacuum. I think the Cano deal would be fine if the Yankees have a strong team around him from the start. I was just responding to you commenting on Cano’s deal possibly being bad after Tex’s, CC’s and Arod’s are done, making it more managable. I just don’t buy that argument because we don’t know what other deals will be done.

          LOL, I would love Cano at 2b and Hanley at short and the Yankees have a $250m payroll.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Yes, you have a point there, but I’d then counter that the team should have the foresight, when looking to lock up other guys, to know what that’s going to look like five years down the line.

            Mike made a good point in the chat as to the Sox having a knock of knowing when to walk away from their stars and, Yankee culture and all, it’s an interesting point. Now I’m not going to sit here and say Nomar or Ellsbury are Derek Jeter, but they were beloved players and the fanbase didn’t revolt when they left. I love the concept of the lifetime Yankee too, but perhaps flexibility means having that aging star sit or move over when they’re not the same player anymore and not clogging up the lane by which a younger player can emerge.

            Just thinking aloud there.

            • Fin says:

              The difference here is that the Yankees have had no young players to force others to move over, or replace an aging player. The last time the Yankees had someone from the minors force his name into the conversation was Montero but he couldn’t play his position. If that doesn’t change, having too many large contracts on the team, will probably continue to be an issue. Really, it seems all arguments just come back to the lack of minor league players. In todays game that is creating a lot of issues that the Yankees aren’t going to be able to overcome without spending $250m on payroll. Building a team out of 90% FA is going to be very costly.

    • Fin says:

      When they signed the ARod deal, we had no idea that Tex and CC’s contracts would be a mess along with his. As they didn’t have Tex or CC. I think we all knew Arod’s contract was horrendous from the day it happened. I don’t want to compare Cano to Arod as I think the 7 for 170 is a fair deal in todays market, and has a much better chance of not being a mess than Arod’s ever did. I just expect when you have a payroll as large as the Yankees there are always going to be more than 1 large contract on it, even at $189.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        More than one bad contract isn’t really a problem in and of itself.

        If I were to complain about Tex or CC, I’d be a hypocrite, so I won’t.

        • Fin says:

          Again, I wasn’t making any point about Tex or CC other than they are 2 bad contracts that weren’t expected when Arod was signed. My point was, that if they sign Cano we cant say, “well the other 3 bad contracts will be off the books by the time Cano is burden”. We just don’t know what other contracts will be given between now and when Cano’s contract becomes a burden. I was all for signing CC, but wanted to let him go if he opted out, and was neutral with Tex.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I thought Tex was overkill at the time, but quickly got used to it and, yeah, winning a WS the year after closing out YS2 with missing the playoffs was a very good thing.

            I get your point. I just expect more foresight from them and, if they choose otherwise, to live with the bed they’ve made.

            • Fin says:

              Yea, well if its a $189 cap going forward for the Yankees and they keep doing business the same way, they will be a mess. If they keep spending as much as they want they really don’t need to make changes. Every 20 years or so you live through a bad year or two and reload. I don’t think that’s Hals plan though. I also don’t think they have the right front office in place to run on a budget, even a budget as large as anyone elses in baseball. I think the extra 30 or 40m more the Yankees spend over their competition has made the FO look good. This is not a Cashman bash, as I don’t know how good he could be without so much interference from ownership and the likes of Levine

  31. Dick M says:

    The problem with letting him walk is there’s not much out there to replace him with.

    Sure it frees up some dough, but for McCann and Beltran?

    I’ll grant you there’s a point you walk away (in my book anything over 7 and 175) but it won’t come to that.

    We still should be able to sign the Japanese pitcher and Garza, Grandy, a legit DH, and a caddie for A-Rod. We could win with that team. If A-Rod plays it’s over the 189. If he’s suspended, it’s probably pretty close.

  32. Dan says:

    What happens if Cano gets hurt? Sure he’s durable but so was Pujols and he’s been banged up since the day he put on an Angels uni.

    This might sound a little exaggerated but what if A-Rod is bought out, Tex and CC continue to decline/have nagging injuries and Cano gets hurt? That’s 4 players eating up exactly 50% of $189M (or whatever the 2014 level is). What Boston did was absolutely perfect storm so that won’t happen but there’s something to be said about “all your eggs in one basket”

    I love Robbie and get excited to watch him play but given the massive Yankee-killing restrictions I’m not sure another albatross contract is the way to go, especially for a team that may not even seriously contend in the first few years of the contract.

    • Preston says:

      Any player can get hurt at any time, occupational hazard. The only way to avoid it is to not sign players to long term contracts. And since all great and even most good players ask for and get long term contracts, you can’t acquire any of them. Is it better to never acquire good players, or roll the dice risk those players not working out?

      • Fin says:

        That’s not true, you can limit it by developing some minor league players. Lets look at what the Yankees have this year.

        1B-Tex a FA signing
        2B- Cano if he signs as a FA
        3B- Arod or another FA signing
        SS- Jeter playing on a FA contract
        C- Most likely a FA signing
        Lf- A trade, basically taking on a FA salary
        RF- Some sort of FA signing
        CF- The only starter on the team, that isn’t playing on a contract obtained as a FA.

        This is a very risky, expensive way to run a team in todays market.

        • Preston says:

          Okay, but unless you develop 9 position players and 5 starting pitchers and a full bullpen every six years then you need to sign FAs. And if you want those FAs to be great or even very good players than you need to give out long term contracts. Even the Cardinals have some big money long term deals on the books and they’re currently in the midst of a pretty solid run of player development. Even they dynasty Yankees who had a pretty historic class of player development in Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, Posada and Williams needed to supplement in FA (or FA via trade) or else they wouldn’t have won squat.

      • qwerty says:

        You can acquire good players without handing out anything more than a 5 year contract. You won’t get the best crop, but you also won’t be stuck with the Pujols and Hamiltons of the world. The goal of every club should be to invest in IFA, good trades, smart signings, and scouting. This is how the Cardinals, Rangers, Rays, etc. have done it. The teams that resort to paying out 600 million in combined salary are the ones that have no clue how to build a ballclub so they resort to the easiest way they know how. The yankees are currently paying for that at the moment. They just lucky that Arod started dating Kate Hudson at the right time.

    • qwerty says:

      They’ll contend as long as they continue to hand out big contracts. The problem is that at some point something will eventually give. We’re already seeing it with Arod, Tex and CC and what it’s doing to their current ballclub.

  33. Tom Merritt says:

    Please Yankees, let Cano walk to whoever will pay him anything and somehow get rid of the albatross, Arod!!! If they could get rid of these two I would not care if they went 0-162 next year. Cano is not worth the original offer. He is lazy, never runs out anything, and is abysmal in the post season. Just let him go to whoever is stupid enough to sign him. They would have a drop off at 2nd base but not enough to make up for signing another albatross!!

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