Robinson Cano Wants $305 Million

It was reported today that Robinson Cano is seeking a new contract from the Yankees for a total of $305 million over ten years.  Needless to say, this is Cano’s starting position and is likely to come down in the future.  Even so, the amount is eye-popping.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, to say the least.  Under new management, the Yankees seem much less willing to hand out the kind of deals they previous gave to ARod and CC Sabathia, the first of which has blown up in the Yankees’ face and the second of which appears on the verge of doing so.

On the other hand, Cano is currently the Bombers’ only remaining superstar actually performing like one, at least once Mariano Rivera retires at the end of this season.  It also seems likely that Cano will go to whichever team makes him the biggest offer.  On the other, other hand, Cano turns 31 in late October, meaning he isn’t reasonably likely to have more than three future seasons comparable to the last five, if that.

Despite failing the make the play-offs this year, the pinstripes came close and still made money hand over fist.  They drew more than 40,000 fans a game yet again and continue to enjoy the nation’s largest TV market.  The Yankees certainly have the money to pay Cano more than any other team in baseball, and they certainly have the incentive to do so given the revenues that come to them from fielding a contending team, no matter who the current management group contains.

George Steinbrenner didn’t overpay superstars for more than 30 years because he was a generous man.  In fact, his family business, American Ship Building, is well known in labor circles for introducing in the 1960’s the employer lock-out as a tactic in response to union demands, and Steinbrenner eventually moved the company’s largest shipyards from Lorain, Ohio to Tampa, Florida in 1983 in order to reduce labor costs.

No, Steinbrenner paid out vast sums to top free agents only because it made the Yankees more valuable and more profitable in the long run.  It didn’t always work for Steinbrenner — in the 1980’s there was a fairly long period when the Yankees seemed to be a treadmill where paying for top free agents only brought them 85 to 90 wins a year, just enough to just miss the play-offs for a number of years running.

Steinbrenner didn’t cut down on spending, however.  Instead, the Yankees were able to develop some home-grown stars like Rivera, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, who Steinbrenner surrounded with expensive free agents, and the Yankees won and won in the late 1990’s.

The Yankees haven’t been able to develop anywhere near the same kind of talent since the turn of the millennium, but their extreme spending on top free agents has made them a play-off team much more often than not, even if they haven’t won as many World Series.

The question, I guess, is whether Cano can get the Yankees to bid against themselves as they did when King George was on the throne.  Scott Boras was the master at getting teams to overpay, and Cano has dumped him for Jay-Z’s unproven new agency.

My feeling is that the best any of the other 29 teams will do is about eight years and $200M to $220M, given Cano’s age and the spectacular implosion not only of ARod’s contract, but also the $240 million, ten-year deal handed out by the Angels to Albert Pujols.  As such, a Yankees’ offer of eight years and $230 million would likely be the best Cano would receive.

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