Albert Pujols. Josh Hamilton. Just those two names alone should make the New York Yankees, or any team for that matter, wary of shelling out anything close to $300 million to sign second baseman Robinson Cano.
ESPN reported that free agent Cano is asking for a contract of $305 million over 10 years. Last spring, the Yankees reportedly offered him $161 million for seven years, and further discussions were put on hold until after the season.
“Nobody says that I’m leaving, nobody says that I’m staying,” Cano said, according to mlb.com. “I haven’t decided anything yet. Let’s see what happens after the World Series…Don’t get me wrong, I love this team.”
Even during his walk year, when he had the most incentive to try to impress potential suitors, Cano didn’t run out every ground ball or hustle on every play in the field. Can you just imagine what his effort level would be if he secures a long-term contract for an astronomical sum?
The Los Angeles Angels have not done well since signing Pujols to a lucrative long-term deal before the 2012 season, and they slipped even more after handing Hamilton an enormous haul before the 2013 campaign. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols’ old team, merrily go on by winning yet another division title in 2013, and the Texas Rangers, Hamilton’s former club, has a winning record and remained in playoff contention to the end of the season without him.
These long-term deals at unrealistically high prices create contented players whose numbers drop off precipitously. When you have a player like Cano, who has had more than a few lackadaisical moments in his career, there had better be a lot of incentives in his contract or he will not even remotely approach the numbers expected of him. It is hard to be hungry on a full stomach.
Cano is an excellent player and a rare second baseman who hits for power. He is one of only three second basemen to have three or more seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBI, according to mlb.com. The other two are Rogers Hornsby and Jeff Kent. Cano has such a smooth and effortless swing that it could make sweet-swinging Billy Williams envious. But Cano is also a notorious streak hitter. He was blisteringly hot down the stretch of 2012 regular season, leading the Yankees into the playoffs. But then in the postseason his torrid pace stopped and he hit just .091 against the Baltimore Orioles and .056 against the Detroit Tigers, according to baseball-reference.com. He had only three hits in nine games during that 2012 postseason, and he had no homers.
The Yankees should make him a solid offer but not break the bank over him.
“Nobody is a re-sign at all costs, but we want (Cano) back,” Yankees team president Randy Levine said, according to mlb.com.
Now that the Core Four era is over in New York, the Yankees need to rebuild. Spending money on quality starters and finding a closer should be much higher priorities than re-signing Cano.