This week, the MLB free agent frenzy began, & as usual, one of the biggest players in the madness was the New York Yankees, but for reasons that you may not expect normally.
The Yankees had to make the decision to re-sign 2B Robinson Cano, one of the best players in the league over the last 5 years, to a long term deal or let him walk.
|Newest Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano (courtesy: New York|
If the Yankees were the team & organization of the late 90s or mid 2000s, Cano would have had the checkbook wide open for himself to sign a big deal, one that would have rivaled Alex Rodriguez’s deals with the Texas Rangers & Yankees, as well as Albert Pujols’ deal with the Anaheim Angels two offseasons ago.
But the new Yankees way is – actually being fiscally conservative? Well, not exactly.
The team did spend big to bring in Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury (from the World Champion Boston Red Sox) & resign pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, but with the economic status of baseball right now, those deals are understandable.
The Cano signing couldn’t happen, and didn’t happen.
Before the season, Cano dropped his previous agent in Scott Boras and signed with RocNation, run by hip-hop icon Jay-Z, who was a previous minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets before he sold his share of the Nets and got into the agent business, with help from the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
Towards the end of the season, Cano & his reps began to throw out the idea that it would take $300 million dollars to keep Cano in New York.
He wasn’t far off.
Cano ended up signing with the Seattle Mariners for 10 years & $240 million dollars. Cano is already 31 & he will be guaranteed all of his money through the age of 41, when there is a very small chance of him playing & an even smaller chance of him playing to the level of his contract.
I completely commend Cano & Jay-Z for getting him one of the biggest contracts ever, but I have to commend the Yankees for not overspending on someone and using the money to get better at a variety of different positions. The Yankees have to be smarter about their overall spending at this point. With not fully knowing if Alex Rodriguez will be back at some point during next season & being on the hook for his contract, the team was going to actually be strapped for cash had they brought back Cano.
Cano is one of the best second basemen in the game, no question about that. He hits for average, power & has great speed, but he doesn’t move tickets. He isn’t a guy that you immediately think about going to see when you are buying Yankees tickets. He is an MVP caliber player, but from a marketing standpoint, he isn’t a household name around the country.
Its very possible that Jay-Z & CAA can help Cano get to that point, but it will be far harder doing it in Seattle, which is a beautiful area with baseball history, but being so far away from the major media markets, its going to be a tougher sell.
Where Cano could end up being strong from a marketing standpoint is that by being in Seattle, he is close to the headquarters of Nike, Starbucks & Microsoft, 3 of the biggest companies on Earth. If Cano can land strong marketing campaigns to go along with solid stats, he may not need the New York market, which im sure is what the Yankees were trying to sell him on in wanting him to take a deal.
In the end, Cano had to take the money, which no one can fault him on at all. especially at this point in his career. But give the Yankees credit, they became a far better team this week all the way around.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
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