Looking at 2014: What if Cano Goes?

With an ownership mandate to have a payroll below the $189M competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold, the Yankees are positioning themselves for a fascinating offseason next year. This fall/winter has not and likely will not bring any prize free agents to the club, as to avoid any long-term commitments, which would make it more difficult to manage the luxury tax threshold.

Could Cano be fitted for Dodger blue in 2014?

As of now,there are five players with guaranteed contracts for the 2014 season (potentially four if Jeter opts out/retires, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll assume he exercises his $8M option + at least $1.5M bonuses). The Jeter situation could be very tricky for the Yankees, as illustrated in an excellent article over at The Captain’s Blog. So, the five commitments for 2014 and their CBT payroll hit: Alex Rodriguez ($27.5M), CC Sabathia ($24.4M), Mark Teixeira ($22.5M), Derek Jeter ($15.5M), and Ichiro ($6.5M). There are arbitration cases (notably Brett Gardner and David Robertson) and player benefit costs, but there still will be plenty of room to fit Robinson Cano into the payroll.

But, what if someone like the Dodgers blow him away and meets his 10 year, $200M demand? Sure, he may get $20M AAV, but do the Yankees want to sign him through his age-40 season? I doubt it. Not only do second baseman age poorly, but the Yankees have been burned on these type of deals time and time again (Jason Giambi, Rodriguez, potentially Teixeira). 

The most viable free agent replacement at the position would be Aaron Hill, who is a year older than Cano  (32 in 2014) but would be much cheaper. He’s had a few good years (2007: .291/.333/.459, 2009: .286/.330/.499 and 36 home runs), but broke out in 2012: .302/.360/.522 (26 home runs, 131 wRC+). He’s a good defender per UZR, and even if his offense reverts to ’07 or ’09 levels (~110 wRC+), he’ll be an attractive alternative. Again, second baseman are risky propositions, but Hill won’t nearly command the outlay that Cano will.

The other big name second baseman in free agency will be Chase Utley. The problem with him will be age (35 in 2014) and health. He’s already struggled to stay on the field the past three years, and may even be in the process of moving to third base, anyway. After Hill and Utley, there’s nothing else attractive in free agency.

David Adams and Corban Joseph are the most realistic internal options. If one of the two win the job, how is Cano’s bat replaced? Assuming no major trades are made prior to that offseason, the Yankees’ offense would be extremely old and not nearly as threatening without Cano.

Don’t forget that Curtis Granderson is also a free agent, so really there are two big offensive voids to fill. However, if Cano is gone, the odds of Granderson returning increase dramatically. But, is he even worth it? He’ll be 33, and has become an all or nothing hitter. Other noteworthy names available, assuming no extensions, will be Shin-Soo Choo (31), Jacoby Ellsbury (30), Mike Morse (32), and Hunter Pence (31). Choo and Pence are the best hitters of the bunch, while Ellsbury and Morse come with health concerns.

Oh, did I mention that the only starters under control after Sabathia will be Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova? Yea, there are a lot of holes to fill. While Cano may be the focal point of 2014, the Yankees are poised to fall back competitively.

Photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2014 Free Agent List: MLB Trade Rumors

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21 Responses to Looking at 2014: What if Cano Goes?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Their is no way they can keep to this plan unless they unload an Arod or Tex. Their are just too many holes to fill and their kids are not ready. I am surprised that so many people have bought into this.

    • Derek Albin says:

      Nobody is going to want them, to be honest. They can stick to the plan, but they’re going to need a lot to go right internally in order to stay competitive. Guys who could have an impact in 2014, like Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott, will hopefully be able to pan out.

      If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to trade Gardner for some pieces next offseason if he has a productive 2013. Even Robertson might be available via trade, too.

    • Anonymous says:

      With the Jays’ moves in the offseason, they’re the favorite in the AL East. If the Yankees aren’t in it by the trade deadline, they should move anyone they can to a contender for pieces and prospects. Not Robertson, though; someone’s gotta close in 2014.

    • Derek Albin says:

      While that’s not the “Yankee way”, there is certainly some sense to that. However, I think Robertson would be one of the more valuable pieces. Relief pitchers aren’t difficult to replace, and Mark Montgomery looks poised to emerge as soon as next season. I would definitely feel more comfortable with Robertson closing, but I think the Yankees could figure something out.

  2. Anonymous says:

    both have no trades. I’d rather keep TEX.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How about trading Cano and Granderson now to give the team a chance for the future? If you could get Texas to trade Andrus, Olt and Kinsler for Granderson, Cano and a prospect such as Mason Williams that would help solidify the future. Texas would be able to resign both at the end of the season and would make them more matched up on paper with the Angels. It’s a pipe dream but it would be good for the Yanks.

    • Derek Albin says:

      There were reports/rumors that the Yankees had listened to offers for Cano and Granderson, and it does make sense to at least consider potential trades. Then again, trading those two will severely hinder the team’s ability to compete in 2013.

      Texas could use Granderson for sure with Hamilton gone, but given the fact he could be a rental, I don’t think the Yankees could get that much for him individually. Plus, they don’t really need Cano since they just extended Kinsler in April. No way they’d risk losing Cano to free agency after just extending a second baseman of their own.

      Andrus would be the perfect heir to Jeter, though, especially with Profar emerging for Texas.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cano can absolutely be retained and still stick to the plan. Gardner is cost-controlled. Catcher is already going to be a cheap option this year and will likely be the same next season (after 2014 Sanchez will be in the picture). Jeter will only cost $8m. We’d need to find 1 outfielder, but that is easy to do. So that covers all the position players. With Cano in there and a cheap internal catcher, we’re really only looking to find 1 new OFer in place of Granderson.

    Bullpen/bench is fine since Cashman always finds cheap nobodies that turn out to do very well.

    Rotation will feature Sabathia, Pineda, and likely either Nova or Phelps for the 5 spot. I assume 1 of either Pettitte or Kuroda will want to return at a similar price. So now you only need to find one serviceable starter if none of our starters are ready.

    Then in the future we have Sanchez for catcher, Dante Bichette Jr. for 3B, Adams/Joseph could be a SS, OF has Williams, Austin, Heathcott, and Ravel Santana, and then pitchers of the future are Banuelos, Betances, Campos, Montgomery, etc (I know some of those are/will be relievers). I also know many of these prospects will not pan out, but at least some will.

    So we are fine to keep Cano given all of these circumstances.

    • Derek Albin says:

      Well, per the CBT rules, Jeter is actually counted as $15.5M because it’s based on the AAV of the salary. Gardner is cost controlled, probably make like $6M at most in his 3rd year of arbitration, which isn’t too bad. I wouldn’t count on Sanchez in 2014 at all, a lot can happen.

      And yes, there is certainly space for Cano. But if some team throws 10 years at him, is it really worth it?

      I do hope that one of Kuroda/Pettitte can come back in 2014, if still effective, but Kuroda would need to take a little bit of a paycut.

      Out of all those prospects you listed, the Yankees would probably be happy if one or two panned out. The majority of those guys are still in the lower levels or have health issues, so again, a lot can still happen with them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I didn’t say Sanchez would be ready in 2014. I said we’d use him after 2014 (2015 and forward). We are already going to use a cheap nobody catcher this year…we will also need to have a cheap nobody in the following season. After that we’ll be on to Sanchez.

      As for Cano, no one in their right mind is giving him 10 years so that’s a non-issue. Dodgers will not give him 10 years either.

      And with the prospects, I expect at least 3 to pan out. Likely Campos, Sanchez, and a couple of the OFers.

    • Derek Albin says:

      Fair enough, I see what you meant on Sanchez, but again, I don’t think we can “expect” prospects to pan out. It would actually be interesting to see a study on how many of Baseball America’s top 50 prospects become something like 2-3 WAR players consistently.

      And I agree on Cano…Boras just wants to use the door in the face technique. The only players to get 10 year deals after turning 30 are A-Rod (yuck) and Pujols last year. Cano is not in that class, and I think the league is smarter than giving out any 10 year deals. Could he get 7 years? Probably…But I’m just concerned about Cano staying at 2B long term. Obviously, his value is best at 2B where elite hitters are uncommon. He wouldn’t be quite as valuable as a third baseman. And again, even a 7 year deal has him being paid something like $18-20M per thru age 37.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cano, Hughes to Philly for Harper, Morse, and Espinosa. Granderson to Seattle for Montero. bring the kid back and gives Seattle thier power hitter.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Incidentally, this blog post is horribly written. What grade are you in?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Would have been great if the Yankees talked extension a year ago, but at least Cano’s candid signaling that he wouldn’t take the hometown discount led Cashman to stick with 1-year contracts this offseason.

    • Derek Albin says:

      Yea, but unfortunately team policy is no extension negotiations while under contract. They tried to break it with Russell Martin, but obviously that didn’t work out. Cano’s current contract is very team friendly (will wind up totaling 6/$59M after 2013, buying out two free agent years).

  8. Nick Trombino says:

    Pretty sure Aaron hill signed a three year extension with Arizona this offseason… So that won’t be a replacement option unfortunately

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