Mailbag: Cano and the Cardinals

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

Travis asks: If the Cardinals were to attempt a trade for Robinson Cano, taking into account he is a one-year rental, what would the Yankees get? Trevor Rosenthal, Jon Jay, and Lance Lynn?

Cano’s future with the Yankees has been a pretty hot topic in recent weeks given his impending free agency and the team’s intent to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014. I fully expect them to re-sign him to a long-term contract, but let’s entertain the idea of trading him this winter just for fun. Remember, thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Robbie would have to be traded in the offseason for his new team to be eligible for draft pick compensation next winter. That’s a pretty big deal.

Anyway, the Cardinals looked into acquiring Cano prior to the 2009 season but backed away when the Yankees asked for Adam Wainwright. Their middle infield is a disaster right now and top second base prospect Kolten Wong is at least half-a-season away, if not a full season. Adding a big left-handed bat to switch-hitter Carlos Beltran and righties Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, and David Freese would really balance their middle of the lineup and make the NL’s best offense even better.

The Cardinals have a loaded farm system that includes arguably the best hitter in the minor leagues in Oscar Taveras. The left-handed hitting outfielder mashed in Double-A this year (.321/.380/.572, 159 wRC+ as a 20-year-old) and will be ranked among the top five prospects in baseball after the season. They also have a ton of pitching in Rosenthal, Lynn, Joe Kelly, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins, and Shelby Miller. Martinez and Jenkins are a few years out while the other guys all pitched in the bigs in 2012. Obviously the Rays deserve a lot of credit, but I think the Cardinals are the best player development organization in baseball.

The Adrian Gonzalez trade (Padres to Red Sox, not Red Sox to Dodgers) is a pretty great trade comparison since it also featured one year of a superstar player. It netted the San Diego two of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in Casey Kelly (#31) and Anthony Rizzo (#75) in addition to the previous year’s first rounder in Reymond Fuentes. Taveras is better than any of those guys and that’s obviously who the Yankees should ask for first. I think 27-year-old rookie and left-handed hitting utility man Matt Carpenter (125 wRC+ in 340 PA while playing first, second, third, left, and right this year) would be a great target as the third piece in a package.

The Yankees should start talks by asking for Taveras or Craig (who could play right, backup first, fake third if needed), Miller or Lynn or Rosenthal, plus Carpenter to round out the three-player package. St. Louis would say no and you negotiate down a bit from there, though I suppose the Bombers could add a player/prospect(s) to sweeten the pot on their end. Cano would have to net you a third high-end piece in addition to one of those arms and Carpenter though, he is the best second baseman in baseball with a below-market salary for 2013. I don’t think the Yankees will find a better trade partner for Cano than the Cardinals given their middle infield needs and prospect depth, but moving him would put a big dent in their attempt to contend in 2013.

Report: Cano will not give Yankees a hometown discount

This is not terribly surprising, but Mark Feinsand and Christian Red are reporting that Robinson Cano will not give the Yankees a hometown discount with his next contract. In fact, one source indicated he may seek an Alex Rodriguez-type contract. “He knows he’s the best player on the Yankees,” said the source. “There’s no reason for him not to be paid that way.”

Cano, 30, hit .313/.379/.550 (150 wRC+) this season and set career-highs in a number of offensive categories. He finished in the top six of the MVP voting for the third straight year and played at least 159 games for the sixth straight year. The current records for second base contracts are $15M annually (Cano and Ian Kinsler) and $85M total (Chase Utley), but Robbie is probably going to double that latter number. There’s no way he’ll get an A-Rod contract since all of baseball is looking at that albatross and laughing at the Yankees, but Cano didn’t hire Scott Boras last year to take any kind of discount.

Open Thread: Hungerthon

Got some serious business to address tonight, but it’s for a good cause…

Hungerthon (website) is an annual radio broadcasting event established in 1975 as a partnership between WhyHunger and Infinity Broadcasting to raise awareness and funds for the now 50 million Americans and over 1 billion worldwide that remain hungry. Over the years, Hungerthon has expanded its outreach through the help of Sirius XM Satellite Radio and several New York tri-state area radio stations including CBS Radio Group, Clear Channel Radio Group and Univision, with support from Citadel’s WABC Talk Radio and 95.5 WPLJ, WFUV and internet stations Rockland World Radio.com and Soundpress.com.

2011 marked a banner year for WhyHunger with the most successful Hungerthon in the annual event’s history, raising a record $764,000 for the fight against hunger and poverty!

Hungerthon brings a live radiothon broadcast across the country preceded by a month of events, interviews and concerts to raise awareness and funds to combat hunger and poverty across the country and around the world.

After the jump is a list of various Yankees and sports-related auction items and events you can purchase with the proceeds going to Hungerthon. Here’s you’re open thread for the evening, go nuts.

[Read more…]

Jayson Nix clears waivers, accepts assignment to Triple-A

Jayson Nix has cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A, the team announced. The Yankees signed him to a new one-year deal worth $900k last week, then immediately designated him for assignment. Nix agreed to accept the Triple-A assignment if he cleared waivers, so he remains with the organization but is no longer on the 40-man roster.

Don Larsen’s perfect game uniform sells for $756k

Former Yankee Don Larsen has sold the uniform he wore during his perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game Five of the 1956 World Series. The uniform was put up for auction and sold to the CEO of GottaHaveIt.com (who figures to resell it) for $630k with a 20% buyer’s fee. Larsen sold the uniform to help pay for his grandchildren’s education. It’s the only perfect game in postseason history, but the sports memorabilia market kinda stinks at the moment. Larsen would have gotten seven figures pretty easily a few years ago, but $756k is nothing to sneeze at.

Thoughts following the Winter Meetings

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Obviously the Alex Rodriguez injury was the major story in Yankeeland this week, but their seemingly half-hearted pursuits of various free agents (Jeff Keppinger, Eric Chavez, Nate Schierholtz specifically) makes you wonder what exactly is going on in the front office. Were they unprepared for the market inflation? Is ownership scaling back spending that much already? Is something else going on? I have no idea. Anyway, some quick thoughts…

1. The Yankees made a very strong bid for Kevin Youkilis yesterday and it seems like he’s deciding between that and a reunion with Terry Francona in Cleveland (on a two-year contract). He’s a flawed but fine stopgap option at the hot corner, though I do believe he carries an awful lot of risk given his declining performance and injury problems. The Yankees will need a backup backup third baseman in Triple-A to help cover during the inevitable DL stint. I suppose Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez fill that role. If the deal does get done, I think it’ll be much weirder seeing Youkilis in pinstripes than it was Johnny Damon in 2006. Youk is a Red Sox lifer.

2. The current catcher situation really scares me. Brian Cashman continues to insist they’re likely to go with internal options following Russell Martin‘s defection to the Pirates, but that could easily be GM speak. It’s not often you see a team with a well-below-average hitting catcher make it to the World Series, nevermind win the whole thing. Strength up the middle on the position player side is very important and I hate to see them punt such an important position. At the same time … what are the alternatives? There’s A.J. Pierzynski (who the Yankees may not be able to afford) and that’s it.

3. This report about Cashman having to get together with ownership before making any offers is just weird. Supposedly he had more authority in the past — I’m sure he still had to check with ownership for major contracts, but one-year nothings like Chavez and Schierholtz were probably at his discretion. I don’t know that for certain, obviously. Just a guess — but it was stripped for at least a week. The most important week of the offseason, for all intents and purposes. I don’t know what else to say about the whole thing other than it’s just weird. I can’t imagine Cashman is happy about having his authority scaled back after being on the job so long.