B-bye New York!
In the comments section of my post regarding Tim Lincecum and the 2014 offseason and roster, Joe in Brooklyn made a great point regarding the Yankees re-signing Robinson Cano. Here is that comment...
I think you bring up some interesting points but I fully expect Cano to be playing somewhere else. He's represented by Scott Boras and isn't signing before free agency for anything less than $200 million, he's resentful of the fact that he is playing on a below market deal now (he's made public comments about that) and he's mentioned there won't be a "home town discount", not that Boras does that often (Jered Weaver). The Yankees can't afford to have another anchor on the payroll during his decline phase. I'd rather see them invest that money spread out over a few players in a similar manner to what the Red Sox did this season with an eye to 2015-2017 when guys like Harper, Hosmer, etc. become free agents and Tex and Arod are off the books. They can then reinvest the big salaries in guys from age 26-28 seasons who are entering their prime as they enter free agency rather than free agents who are nearing the exit to their prime (Cano, Granderson).
Hosmer and Harper are both represented by Boras and have very good chances of making it to free agency.
Also, I know a popular opinion is to trade someone who won't sign an extension to get "value" greater than a draft pick, but I don't see how the Yankees are able to trade him for value that would be greater than what he will provide this year in addition to the draft pick. For contending teams the smart move isn't always to move a guy for a couple of sacks of balls just because he's in his walk year. They will have gotten great value on Cano's deal and no one is trading anything that's worth more than what Cano will be able to provide to a contending Yankees team this season.To start, if a team wants a player of the caliber of a Robinson Cano it's going to cost them. Sure, a team could pull off a big trade in order to acquire a player on a team-friendly deal, but waiting around for that opportunity would be stupid. Those types of things come around only once in a great while, and it's not like the Yankees would be the only team trying to trade for that particular player. Let's not forget that the Yankees don't have a whole lot as far as trade fodder, either. The good trade fodder they do have is currently in AA or lower, and therefore wouldn't get that type of MLB star on a team-friendly deal. And who knows if those top prospects in the low minors turn into something or flame out.
We just spent a ton of time talking about trading for Justin Upton, and while he's not making as much as he would have if he were a free agent this past offseason, Justin's still making $38.5 million over the next 3 years, and that's part of 6 year extension that bought out one of his pre-arbitration and all 3 of his arbitration years. There's two points I'm trying to make here... 1. young stars are being locked up through their arbitration years at a much higher rate than we've ever see, and 2. contracts for such players are no longer that team-friendly. That's another reason why I was happy with the trade of Montero for Pineda last year, because Michael Pineda was a guy that looked to be a possible stud pitcher, and he wasn't signed to any sort of extension which means the Yankees could cut bait completely should they want to.
So sitting back and saying "let's not sign that free agent star and wait for a younger star on a team-friendly deal to be traded" is not a recipe for continued success, which is what the vast majority of Yankee fans demand. On that note, waiting to see if a Mason Williams becomes that type of player is not a recipe for continued success either, because we just saw a top prospect in Manny Banuelos have a horrible injury-plagued season. Waiting on that big trade or prospects to develop into stars is something rebuilding teams do... not what the Yankees do. If you're one of those fans that's willing to wait a few years to win that's great, but even Hal Steinbrenner has said that's not the Yankee way.
And let's keep in mind that during Cano's decline years, the Yankees will no longer have Alex Rodriguez nor Mark Teixeira around. ARod is signed through 2017, and Tex is signed through 2016. Robbie Cano's decline years likely wouldn't happen until after those players are gone, and being the only player with a deal worth $20+ million a year would still allow the team to compete. Heck, if they can compete now with $50 million tied up in players worth half of that combined, then they could do it with half that much tied up in one player.
As for Joe's point about trading players looking to be on their way out, I totally... 100%... agree that trading them while trying to contend is silly. I've heard from a lot of people that say Cano may be on his way out of New York after this season, so the Yankees should look to trade him. Like Joe said, Robbie would give the 2013 Yankees enough value that trading him could be counter-productive, as the players they got in return may not give the team as much value. Especially since the Yankees are looking to contend in this year. Sure, it makes sense for 2014 and beyond, thanks to getting some good prospects and another draft pick (assuming they'd give Cano a qualifying offer, and Cano would turn it down).
The last thing I want to say is that not re-signing Cano could make things interesting. There are other free agents outside of Tim Lincecum that interest me. I'm a fan of Martin Prado, for instance. The guy consistently hits .300 with an on-base percentage over .350, and if he continues to run like he did last season then those 15-20 stolen bases would be nice too. Martin could also play 3B while ARod moves to full-time DH duty. And since Prado would likely sign a deal of 4-5 years, we wouldn't have him into his later 30s when a player really starts to decline.
Jacoby Ellsbury could be another interesting free agent. It's too bad he only played in 74 games last season (although it did hurt the Red Sox, and hurting the Red Sox is always a good thing... hehehe), but if Jacoby can bounce back in 2013 and come close to his 2012 batting line of .321/.376/.552 with 32 home runs then perhaps we could see him in the outfield instead of somebody like Corey Hart.
Or what about Phil Hughes? The Yankees could look to bring him back, lining him up behind the duo of Sabathia and Lincecum, and knocking Ivan Nova out of the rotation (by the way, I'm not confident that Nova is going to bounce back and be a good starting option).
Like I said, it could be a really interesting offseason should the Yankees and Cano decide to part ways. But I don't see that happening. Robbie is one of the players a team builds around, and in order to get one of those players a team has to pay for it. And we're lucky enough that the Yankees are one of the few teams that can sign one of those players and still compete should that player decline earlier than expected (see Alex Rodriguez).