Like it or not, Robinson Cano won't be wearing pinstripes on Opening Day this season.
Cano has hung up his New York Yankees pinstripes to go out west and play for the Seattle Mariners, as the M's were willing to pay him a nice chunk of change to anchor their lineup for the next decade.
The $240 million that Cano received from Seattle was a figure that the Yankees were never willing to go close to, even though Jay Z offered general manager Brian Cashman a "discount" that would bring his potential Yankees contract to $235 million over 10 years.
There's been much to do in the fallout of Cano's signing earlier in December, but it's time for the true consequences to be sorted out.
Sure, letting Cano walk was a controversial decision, but will it really hurt the Bombers in the future? Let's take a look, shall we?
Why It's Bad
Let's knock out the obvious points here.
For starters, letting Cano walk creates a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup for a team that was set at second base for most of the past decade.
Cano isn't your run-of-the-mill second baseman, though. Cano provides corner infielder production at a defensive position while also providing premium glove work. He truly is a special talent, and one that won't come around again for some time (in all likelihood).
He's been called Rod Carew with power over the years, and losing that type of talent simply won't be easy to overcome.
As replacements, the Yankees have brought aboard Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Dean Anna. Should Alex Rodriguez find himself suspended for 2014, Johnson will likely be the everyday third baseman. This leaves Roberts and Anna as options at second.
Roberts hasn't exactly been the staple of good health since 2009, and Anna is a career minor leaguer. The 27-year-old just posted a career season at Triple-A Tucson in the San Diego Padres organization, but relying on him for consistent production is risky.
Whether or not Cashman expected Cano to re-sign at his price is up in the air, but Cashman's plans to attack the position in free agency probably weren't thought out all that well. That being said, he did allocate that money to other areas.
Why It's Good
Again, we'll hit the obvious first.
You know that other 10-year contract the Yankees have to deal with? You know, the one with the guy who might be suspended for all of 2014?
Yeah, avoiding another 10-year headache to another 30-something-year-old was a smart move by Cashman. If Cano was dead set on 10 years, then it was a wise baseball (and business) move to watch him walk out the door.
Enough can't be said about players over 30 years old and bad contracts. Rodriguez is a prime example given his direct impact on the Cano negotiations, but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are also suffering from the contract they gave to Albert Pujols.
Pujols' contract was also for 10 years and $240 million, so it will be interesting to see how Cano fares in comparison to arguably the best hitter of the past decade.
Pujols has seen his average drop nearly .050 points, and he's seen his on-base percentage plummet just over .080 points since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals. Avoiding a mess like that earns Cashman some serious props.
Letting go of a generational talent like Cano wasn't easy, but Cashman has used the money wisely this offseason—on several areas. Instead of giving one player (Cano) all that money, he gave Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Hiroki Kuroda, Johnson, Roberts and Matt Thornton contracts to come play for the Yankees.
If the goal is still to finish the offseason under $189 million, then giving multiple players contracts instead of just the one is a great decision.
In the long run, allowing Cano to walk was the best decision for this team. Had Cano changed his demands to fewer years, then it would have been foolish for Cashman to let him walk.
But giving him anything more than seven years would have been dumb for a franchise still dealing with one albatross of a contract.
Sure, the immediate ramifications might seem intense. The lineup will look drastically different without Cano hitting third or fourth, and the defense will likely drop a bit given Cano's propensity to make highlight plays in the middle of the diamond.
That being said, Cashman did what he had to do. He made a tough call, stuck by it and improved the team in others areas instead.
We'll wait to see the on-field results this season, but the results five or six years from now should be great without an aging superstar potentially bogging down the roster.
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