By now everyone has heard that Robinson Cano has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Mariners.
Let me first say that I do not blame Robinson Cano for taking the Mariners’ offer of $240M over ten years. If the reports are true, the Yankees were not willing to exceed $175M and seven years for Cano – a difference of $65M and three years. I don’t expect Cano, or any athlete for that matter, to leave that sort of contract on the table.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I have to admit that I am totally baffled by what the Yankees are doing this offseason. On the one hand, ten years and $240M is insane – I think we all know that. Cano is 31 years old and will be 40 in the last year of his deal with Seattle. The Yankees are already stuck with enough overpaid players who are past their prime and adding another is not what they want to do.
The Yankees do not play by the same salary rules as everyone else however. Bad contracts are like hangovers to them – they stink at first but you endure it and find yourself making the same mistake the next night. They did it with Jason Giambi and AJ Burnett, and are doing it with Alex Rodriguez. They will have to do it with Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, not to mention Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia.
So my question is: What’s one more?
There was speculation going into this offseason that that Yankees would enter a rebuilding mode. That with Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retiring and Alex Rodriguez suspended, the Yankees would focus on their farm system and reducing payroll. If this were the case, letting Robbie Cano walk would have been the right call.
Clearly though, the Yankees are not treating 2014 as a rebuilding year. They simply cannot afford to. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Yankees – more than any other team – make their money in October. Since opening the new Stadium in ’09, the Yankees make about $50M – 60M more per year on ticket and luxury box sales if they make the playoffs. Essentially, their revenues increase by about 15% if they make the playoffs. In a way, this is why they can justify overpaying for players that are more likely to guarantee playoff baseball in the Bronx. So then, this leads me to two conclusions:
1. The Yankees think they can make the postseason without Robinson Cano.
While this is probably true, I don’t think anyone would argue the Yankees are a better team without Robinson Cano. If their goal is to win championships, Cano helps them achieve this goal (no matter what his contract terms are). But if the Yankees are more concerned with turning a profit, letting Cano walk was the right move.
2. The Yankees place more value in Jacoby Ellsbury than they do in Robinson Cano.
This is just preposterous.
Robinson Cano games missed since 2007: 14
Jacoby Ellsbury games missed since 2008: 290
Games played is the most underrated stat in sports and the Yankees chose to overpay a guy who struggles to stay on the field rather than a guy who leads the league in games played.
Either way this stinks if you’re a Yankees fan. I don’t want to believe the team put making a dollar ahead of winning championships, but I am left with no other option because even the most oblivious baseball fan knows Cano is worth more than Ellsbury. But this is not an either-or situation. The truly frustrating part of all this is they could have had both…and then some.