Oct 17, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano before game four of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
A report surfaced today from the New York Daily News (h/t MLB Trade Rumors) that Robinson Cano “could leave the New York Yankees for free agency after the 2013 season”.
"“I don’t think he’ll be with the Yankees beyond next season,” one of the sources told the Daily News. “He’s not giving them a hometown discount, and they seem to be more interested in keeping their payroll down than winning.”"
It’s not surprising that a player and his agent – especially super agent Scott Boras – would posture for the best deal possible, but this isn’t just posturing. The Yankees have stated a goal of getting their payroll below the luxury tax line of $189 million by 2014, and they appear intent on achieving it. An argument could be made that Cano was the second most valuable player in the American League last season – even more valuable than Miguel Cabrera – and he’ll certainly command a monster deal a year from now.
I’m not a believer that players should offer their long-time teams hometown discounts – especially after the team made a killing off them in their pre-arb and arbitration years – but I can somewhat understand that sort of talk amongst the smaller markets. You can say what you want about small market owners pocketing revenue sharing dollars while crying poor, but there are some teams that simply can’t take the long-term risk of signing a guy like Cano to a huge contract. The Yankees aren’t one of those teams.
The idea that Cano should take less money to stay in New York so that they can save money on the luxury tax is laughable. He should take less money so that Hal Steinbrenner can line his pockets a little bit more? I don’t think so.
The Yankees got themselves into this mess through their decades-long philosophy of offering the most money to the best free agents to win championships. They should have no expectations of hanging onto their guys if they’re not willing to offer a market-value contract. I’m sure no one would be sympathetic to their plight should Cano decide to take more money to play elsewhere next off-season.
Omar Infante’s contract is up after this upcoming season, so the Tigers could be in the market for a second baseman, but Cano is reportedly seeking “A-Rod type money” and could land a deal for more than six years at more than $25 million per season. The Tigers likely won’t have that type of cash to spend.
The Tigers will have $21.1 million coming off the books following the 2013 season in the form of Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago, Joaquin Benoit, and Octavio Dotel, but they’ll need to account for arbitration increases for up to ten players plus figure out who’s going to fill the void at shortstop and second base. Of course, that’s the same year (2014) that the new Fox and ESPN TV contracts will kick in for Major League Baseball which will provide each team with an additional $20-25 million of instant revenue.
The Tigers likely won’t be a player in the Cano sweepstakes a year from now, but who knows will happen, especially if owner Mike Ilitch is still chasing that elusive World Series ring.