Archive for Robinson Cano
Via Ken Davidoff: Hal Steinbrenner confirmed the Yankees have had some talks with Robinson Cano‘s new agent about a contract extension. The team’s 30-year-old second baseman fired Scott Boras and hired CAA Sports/Roc Nation last month. It’s unclear if a new offer has been made.
“We’ve had several conversations with Brodie (Van Wagenen), the new agent, just as we did with Scott (Boras) … A lot of it’s procedural. I keep saying, it’s not a process we’ll be reading about in the paper every day. If anything significant happens, everybody’s going to know, but we’re going to continue in the weeks to come to work though things and try to come to an agreement,” said Hal. The teams hopes to sign Cano before he hits free agency after the end of the year.
Rapid fire mailbag this week, so ten questions and ten answers. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send up anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Max asks: At what point should we worry about Robinson Cano‘s bad lefty splits going forward? He’s hitting .254/.299/.476 against lefties this year and had a .239/.309/.337 line last year. Sure, he still mashes righties but I’m really not comfortable with the idea of giving a potential platoon player a megadeal. Thanks.
Oh it’s definitely a red flag right. Cano hit lefties nearly as well as he hit righties until last season, when his performance fell off a cliff. I looked at the data as part of our season review and didn’t find any significant red flags. This year though, both his ground ball (56.3%) and strikeout (22.4%) rates are way up against southpaws. That could change in a hurry since it’s so early in the season. If that continues into the summer, I’d be very worried. Giving a super-long contract to a middle infielder is risky enough, and it would be even worse if he’s morphed into a platoon bat. Not worried yet, but I will be watching this.
Steve asks: Single-season saves record is Francisco Rodriguez at 62. Mariano Rivera is on pace for 66. What are the odds he does it?
This isn’t really a Mo thing, right? The other 24 players on the team have to create those save opportunities for him. They’d have to give him like, 67 save chances over the full season to get to 62 saves, which means another 51 save chances in the final 121 games of the year. It’s doable, the Yankees play a ton of close games because their pitching is good and their offense mostly stinks (94 wRC+!), but only twice has someone saved more than 55 games in one year. I think the odds are very small, maybe 5% on the high-end.
Vinny asks: Assuming Travis Hafner gets and stays healthy (big assumption), what will the Yankees do with Lyle Overbay whenever Mark Teixeira comes back? His performance against righties has been excellent.
His performance against righties has been excellent (160 wRC+), but so has Hafner’s (151 wRC+). Pronk also does a much better job of holding his own against southpaws (98 wRC+, where Overbay has been basically useless (-21 wRC+). Their overall hitting numbers aren’t particularly close either (106 vs. 139 wRC+). The Yankees will have to decide if Overbay’s advantages on defense and durability make up the difference in offensive production. Considering he’s a first baseman and first baseman only, I think the answer is clearly no.
I definitely think they will see what they have internally first. That means Vidal Nuno and maybe even Josh Spence in addition to Rapada and Cabral. If those guys all manage to flop — or if Boone Logan gets hurt — in the coming weeks, yeah I could see them looking for lefty relief help at the deadline. It definitely isn’t a pressing need right now.
KG asks: Would the Yankees have the interest/package to trade for Nick Franklin? He may not end up a bonafide major league shortstop, but the Mariners have Dustin Ackley at second and Brad Miller just behind Franklin. Pipe dream?
I’m sure there would be some interest on New York’s part, but I don’t see why the Mariners would move him right now. He’s tearing up the Triple-A level (159 wRC+) and even though he’s unlikely to be a shortstop long-term, he’s much better than their big league shortstops. Ackley is awful but they won’t give up on him yet, but Miller is far from a sure thing. I think the Mariners will call Franklin up in the coming weeks and give him a chance. The only thing the Yankees have to offer are a bunch High-A and Double-A outfielders, none of whom is performing particularly well this year. I don’t really see a trade fit.
Anonymous asks: With Seattle having uber-catching prospect Mike Zunino just about ready for the show — any chance Seattle will take offers for Jesus Montero? What would the Yankees have to give to reacquire Jesus?
Teams usually aren’t quick to admit failure after a trade of that magnitude, so I don’t think Seattle would be open to moving Montero so soon without getting a big piece in return. They’re not going to sell-low and take two Grade-C prospects despite his dismal big league performance. The Yankees could stick him at DH, teach him first base, catch him on rare occasions … basically everything they could have done when he was with the organization. I don’t see this happening at all.
Anonymous asks: Do you believe the Yankees are planning to trade Joba Chamberlain for pieces around the deadline, considering the Yankees’ surplus of middle relief options? Joba could bring back a cost-controlled piece.
He’s an injury-prone middle reliever who will be a free agent after the season. You don’t get “pieces” in return for that, and the only cost-controlled piece he’ll bring back in a mid-level prospect. Joba’s value to the Yankees as a seventh inning reliever is much greater than anything they’ll realistically get in return. Teams aren’t giving up anything worthwhile for him, I know I wouldn’t.
Mike asks: Sort of a two-part David Aardsma question now that the Marlins released him. Firstly, why are teams not giving him a shot in the Majors, and secondly, would it make sense for the Yanks to go pick him up again?
I don’t know why he hasn’t been given a big league shot yet, but I don’t believe it’s because he’s been overlooked. Teams know Aardsma, and anytime a former standout closer becomes a free agent, he gets looked into. They must not like what they’ve seen, either in his stuff or command — he did walk eight in 14 innings before the release, which he requested — or whatever. If Aardsma wants to come back to the organization and pitch in Triple-A for a few weeks, great. I wouldn’t give him a big league job over Shawn Kelley or Preston Claiborne (or Joba) right now though.
Tuckers asks: I know it’s too soon to predict, but what do you think about the Yankees signing Tim Lincecum after the season? I think there’s a good argument to be made either way.
My answer at this exact moment is no. That is subject to change between now and the offseason, but his velocity continues to hover around 90 mph and his offspeed stuff isn’t as devastating as it was when he was 93-95. His walk (4.25 BB/9 and 11.0 BB%) and homer (0.92 HR/FB and 15.6% HR/FB) rates are career-worsts, and that’s in a big park in the NL. The Yankees do a wonderful job of squeezing production from seemingly cooked veterans, but I don’t think Lincecum is coming on a cheap one-year deal. So yeah, right now my answer is no. If he adds some velocity this summer, my opinion will change.
Brad asks: So the Yankees seem to have a glut of serviceable, young starting pitchers. Is there a deal out there for them to turn some quantity of these into an impact bat?
I don’t think so. I don’t see any team giving up an impact back for guys like Ivan Nova and David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno. Two or three projected fifth starters doesn’t get you one really good bat. Maybe they could get a David Adams type, but that wouldn’t qualify as an impact bat in my opinion.
4:58pm: Cano confirmed he didn’t have the x-ray yesterday, he had it in New York during the A’s series. Either way, he’s fine.
3:30pm: Well this kinda came out of nowhere. George King reports that x-rays on Robinson Cano‘s right foot came back negative yesterday. He fouled a ball off the foot during the Athletics series, then re-aggravated the injury when he slipped covering first base against the Rockies. “The tests were negative,” he said. “Everything is good.”
Cano, 30, is hitting .311/.359/.585 (150 wRC+) with nine homers in 145 plate appearances this year, and so far he’s played every inning of every game in the field save for two innings at the end of one of those blowout wins over the Indians. Eduardo Nunez‘s injury means the team can’t give Cano even a half-day off at DH right now. It goes without saying that losing Robbie for any length of time would have been very bad even if the rest of the team was perfectly healthy.
Via Andrew Marchand: Robinson Cano confirmed his new representatives at CAA Sports and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation have yet to begin contract talks with the Yankees. Jon Heyman says the team “prominently mentioned” David Wright’s eight-year, $138M contract with the Mets as framework for a deal.
Cano, 30, is hitting .324/.378/.608 (165 wRC+) in 111 plate appearances so far this season. I don’t think he hooked on with Jay-Z to leave New York, and I do expect the two sides to sit down and hammer out a new contract before the end of the season. Wright’s contract seems like a pipe dream though. My hunch is they work something out in the eight-year, $190M range. It would top Derek Jeter‘s total guarantee and be the second biggest deal for a middle infielder in history behind Alex Rodriguez‘s pact with the Rangers. That’s just a guess though.
1. YES had an interesting graphic displayed during last night’s game. It showed which teams had the lowest batting averages in the American League versus left-handed pitching. As you may have expected, the Yankees (.199) were number two on this dubious list, trailing only the offensively inept Mariners (.189). What you may not have known, was that among the five worst lefty hitting teams, three teams came from the AL East. Trailing right behind the Yankees are the Red Sox (.215) and the Blue Jays (.220). The White Sox (.243) round out the bottom five.
We knew this would be an issue coming into the season given the configuration of the lineup. However, as is so often the case, we are either unaware of dismissive of the rest of the league’s struggles in relation to our own. Ideally, the Yankees simply would not have such drastic splits. However, seeing as they do, it’s of some comfort to know that some of their divisional rivals are experiencing the same dilemma. Perhaps, to some degree, this makes one of the Yankees more noticeable vulnerabilities a bit less alarming at the moment. Obviously, it’s still a problem the team should look to address as quickly as possible. You know their competition will look to as well.
2. Yesterday was a pretty gratifying win. Hiroki Kuorda didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept the team in the game. We saw some displays of power from both likely and unlikely contributors, and of course we enjoyed the perks of a dominant bullpen. On top of that, the Yankees managed a come-from-behind win (against a lefty no less). Ideally, the Yankees won’t get into the habit of trailing the other team. However, it’s good to know that when they do they can muster up some resilience occasionally. We’ve seen them come from behind several times this year already – a few times against the Diamondbacks and against the Rays if memory serves. These early season wins are especially gratifying while the team is navigating through all the injuries.
3. How about Robinson Cano? Turns out he’s pretty good. He looked lost at the plate against the Red Sox and Tigers in the first two series of the season. Since then, well … he’s been himself. He’s now batting .322/.372/.632 (.424 wOBA, 171 wRC+). He’s tied for fifth in all of baseball in home runs (with seven), and trails only Chris Davis and J.P. Arencibia in the American League (with eight). Not too shabby, especially considering his position. What is interesting though, is that his K% is a few percentage points higher than his career norms in the early goings of the season. That said, I would certainly expect that to normalize as the season progresses a bit further (but we’ll keep an eye on it nevertheless). If the Yankees are going to have any kind of sustained success this season, they’ll need Robinson’s bat to remain hot — especially if some of the other overachievers begin to slow down.
4. Since it’s Friday and I’m feeling frivolous, let’s take a quick pit stop into the world of arbitrary and meaningless observations. Yesterday was my 29th birthday and the Yankees won, which was perfect. I remember telling my wife that it had seemed like forever since the last time the Yankees won on my birthday. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t too far from the truth. The last time they won on the 25th of April was 2006. Since 1984, they’ve gone 9-16 (there were five off days since that time). So there’s that.
5:41pm: Christian Red, Mark Feinsand, and Michael O’Keeffe report that Cano’s name is not listed in any of the Biogenesis documents obtained by MLB. Cruz’s name appears briefly and she purchased something other than PEDs.
4:04pm: Via T.J. Quinn & Mike Fish: MLB is investigating Robinson Cano for potential ties to Biogenesis, the South Florida clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to various athletes. Sonia Cruz, a spokeswoman at Cano’s foundation, is listed on the clinic’s client list for a weight-loss program. Cruz denied Robbie had any connection to Biogenesis, which Cano just reiterated to reporters in Tampa.
Long story short: MLB is investigating Cano because Cruz, Melky Cabrera (his best friend), and Alex Rodriguez (his teammate) all showed up in the various Biogenesis documents. It’s is a pretty loose connection obviously, but a connection worth investigating apparently. My only concern right now is Cano’s image more than anything. It doesn’t take much for fans to label someone a PED cheat — a label that sticks forever — and I really hope that label doesn’t applied to Robbie after this flimsy little connection. That would be a damn shame (unless he actually did them, of course).
Just seven months before hitting the open market as (by far) the best free agent available, Robinson Cano has fired agent Scott Boras. He is now represented by CAA Sports and Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports. Cano will be Roc Nation’s first client and they will handle his marketing. Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Ken Rosenthal, and Dan Barbarisi all had a hand in breaking the news.
“At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors both on and off the field,” said Cano in a statement released on Roc Nation’s site. “I am confident that the pairing of Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports will be essential in helping me accomplish my short- and long-term goals. I am making this important decision now so I can keep my focus on helping the Yankees succeed in 2013, while minimizing any distractions for me and my teammates.”
Darren Rovell notes that Jay-Z hopes to become a certified agent in baseball, football, and basketball. Roc Nation’s initial launch is with CAA Sports, but it will be its own stand-along company. Given his new affiliation with Jay-Z, it is very hard to see Cano leaving New York. I doubt he has his eyes on joining the Mets either.
Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA will handle the bulk of Cano’s contract talks. He represents Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Howard, and Drew Storen, among others. CAA itself has a long client list, including stars like Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, and Roy Halladay. Current Yankees Phil Hughes and Boone Logan are both CAA clients.
“Robinson Cano is an extraordinary all-around talent who has established himself as one of the game’s best and most consistent players,” said Van Wagenen in a statement. “Our mandate is to minimize his distractions while helping him achieve his goals on and off the field in both the short- and the long-term. His immediate concern is continuing to show respect for the New York Yankees organization, his teammates and fans.”
As for the Yankees, Cano cutting ties with Boras is pretty much the best case scenario as far as contract extension talks go. They’ve already made their franchise cornerstone a “significant offer,” though apparently there hadn’t been much progress in recent weeks. With a few notable exceptions, Boras has always taken his biggest clients out onto the open market and created a bidding war. Teams like the Tigers, Nationals, Angels, and especially the Dodgers figure to be in the mix for Cano after the season. Nearly every star CAA client has signed an extension in advance of free agency.
Does the agency switch means it will be easier for the Yankees to sign Cano long-term? Maybe, but I’m not sure easier is the best way to put it. I do think it improves their chances of signing him to a more affordable contract — not a ton because I doubt Jay-Z wants his first baseball contract to be a sweetheart deal — though Robbie is getting paid either way. He’ll clear nine figures easily and could double Chase Utley’s second base record of $85 million guaranteed. Perhaps he’ll sign a shorter (six years?) deal instead of seeking a massive eight- or ten-year agreement. That would be awesome.
Perhaps the policy had been in place previously, but the first time I remember Brian Cashman mentioning it was during the spring of 2007. In camp that year the Yankees had two important players who were set to hit free agency following the season: Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera (plus A-Rod’s looming opt-out situation). Instead of talking contract with them before the season and therefore keeping them out of the free agent picture, the Yankees instead opted to wait, saying it was policy to not extend contracts before free agency.
At the time the policy was sensible enough. It allowed them to remain flexible. If a player got hurt before the end of a contract, they weren’t on the hook for any additional years and dollars. Once the players did hit free agency, the Yankees had a whole pool of players from which they could choose. At a time when many small and mid market teams let their best players hit free agency, the Yankees stood to take great advantage.
In the past six years the situation has changed quite a bit. Those small and mid market teams have bigger budgets now, thanks in part to the revenue sharing program. They’re using those dollars to lock up their best players to long-term deals. Here is a list of significant extensions in recent seasons. (Free agency dates in terms of, would be a free agent following the XXXX season; option years in parenthesis.)
|Player||Orig. FA||New FA|
|Joey Votto||2013||2023 (24)|
|Buster Posey||2016||2021 (22)|
|Cole Hamels||2012||2018 (19)|
|Justin Verlander||2014||2019 (20)|
|Matt Cain||2013||2017 (18)|
|Ryan Zimmerman||2013||2019 (20)|
That just covers the $100-million-plus extensions. Adam Jones, Andre Ethier, Ian Kinsler, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Miguel Montero, Andrew McCutchen, Gio Gonzalez, Alex Gordon, and Madison Bumgarner, among others, also got extensions that take them past their original free agency dates. Given the rash of recent extensions, the younger of that group could see further extensions before they reach that already delayed free agency date.
Another name will soon join the $100-million-plus club: Elvis Andrus. This morning Jon Heyman reported that the Rangers and Andrus were nearing an eight year extension worth $120 million, which will keep Andrus under contract for the next 10 years at $131 million total. This comes when the Rangers still have two years left on Andrus’s current contract and also have baseball’s No. 1 prospect Jurickson Profar waiting for a chance. There goes another player the Yankees can’t acquire via free agency.
The days of acquiring superstar talent via free agency seem like a distant past. This past off-season there was little superstar talent freely available. It was essentially Josh Hamilton, and he went to the Angels with all of his flaws. If you look at next year’s top free agents you’ll notice that one of them is already off the board, and the rest have plenty of downside. After Cano there are injury risks and older players, but generally there isn’t a superstar present. It’s Cano by his lonesome. The 2015 free agent list looks bleak as well. There’s Clayton Kershaw, but he appears to be nearing a mammoth extension. The only player that looks halfway useful for the Yanks is Asdrubal Cabrera, but even the Indians appear willing to spend money these days.
The old policy doesn’t work in the new world. Teams simply aren’t letting their best players reach the point of free agency. They’re offering security in exchange for some level of savings from full market price, and the players are jumping at the opportunities. When the Yankees let their own players hit free agency, they’re not longer creating flexible situations. They’re essentially driving up those players’ prices. Unless they have an in-house replacement, chances are they’re going to lose production in the deal if they don’t re-sign the player.
All of this, of course, goes back to Robinson Cano. The Yankees have apparently thrown out their policy and have made a significant offer to Cano, but apparently it’s not enough to get the deal done. With Scott Boras that’s expected, but then again Andrus is a Boras client. There remains a small chance the Yankees can work out something with Cano before November, but given his status as the league’s best second baseman, combined with possible interest from the newly rich Dodgers, it doesn’t seem like a strong possibility.
Hindsight suggests that the Yankees should have started working on an extension for Cano after the 2010 season. Unfortunately, that’s also when Cano hired Boras as his agent. Boras did come to the Yankees with the idea of ripping up Cano’s current contract and negotiating a new one, and at this point that appears to be an option the Yankees should have considered. They now face losing not only their best player, but their only star player — one who has no apparent successor. (As a superstar, not as a second baseman.)
Where will the Yankees be next year if they lose Cano? They’re then back to relying on Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to be their superstars. Much as I like both of them and appreciate what they contributed to the 2009 World Series team, it has become apparent that their lineup-carrying days are over. The free agency market is bare. Teams aren’t willing to trade premium talent for prospects any longer. If the Yankees want to continue having a star in their everyday lineup, it will mean ponying up huge dollars, and probably nine or 10 years, for Cano.
Perhaps in a few years the situation will change and star players will either hit free agency or get dealt to a big market team that offers an extension. For the time being, the emphasis is on developing premium talent in the minor leagues. The Yankees are greatly disadvantaged here, given their annual draft position. But that’s a topic for a different post.
The Tigers and Giants signed their franchise players to long-term contract extensions last week, now it looks like the Yankees are about to do the same. During a recent ESPN Radio interview, agent Scott Boras confirmed the Yankees and second baseman Robinson Cano are on the verge of a “historic” contract extension. Here’s the money quote, pun intended:
“Mr. Steinbrenner and the Yankees have made it very clear they want Robinson to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career … We are finalizing a historic contract that will make the Robinson the highest-paid player in baseball and keep him in New York for the next 12 years and the duration of his career. Both sides are pleased with the progress we’ve made in recent weeks and expect an official announcement soon.”
Boras went on to say the contract is “heavily front-loaded” and indicated the last few years of the deal would have a low base salary. It sure sounds like the two sides agreed to tack on some extra years at a dirt cheap salary to drag down the average annual value for luxury tax purposes. Cano and Boras get to say they got a historic contract while the Yankees presumably maintain payroll flexibility for their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014. Seems like a win-win.
Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees made Cano (and Boras) a “significant offer” late last month, and it appears the two sides continued to negotiate through Spring Training. Robbie had been scheduled to become a free agent after this season. There’s no word on the money yet, but the whole “highest-paid player in baseball” thing suggests the contract could be in excess of the $275M deal Alex Rodriguez signed prior to the 2008 season.
Obviously it will be very interesting to see the terms and structure of the contract. If the two sides did agree to low salaries in years 8-12 or 11-12 or whatever, MLB might get involved because it would qualify as blatant luxury tax circumvention. The NHL had an issue with similar contract structures in recent years before stepping in, so I’m sure this is something on MLB’s radar. Especially since the Yankees have been so vocal about getting under that luxury tax threshold going forward. We’ll see. Obviously we’ll have much more in the coming days.
Now, just to be clear, this is absolutely, 100% an April Fool’s joke. Literally nothing about the post is true. Not the radio interview, not the quote, not the 12-year contract term, nothing. It’s all completely made up and an attempt to have some fun on the eve of Opening Day. Pretty convenient timing this year, I must say. Hope you enjoyed the post, and if not, well then too bad. The Yankees season starts in 13 hours, so cheer up.
The Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic tonight, going a perfect 8-0 in the tournament. They’re the first team to go undefeated in the event.
Robinson Cano was named MVP of the WBC after going 15-for-32 (.469) with four doubles and two homers in the eight games. He’ll rejoin the Yankees in the next day or two for the rest of Spring Training. Congrats to him and his fellow countrymen. They completely dominated the tournament.