This is one time when we can definitely say it was all about the money. Robinson Cano has left the building. He’s headed to the Pacific Northwest to play for the hapless Mariners in an attempt to make Seattle relevant. It only took $65 million more — and three additional years — than the Yankees offered to lure him away from the bright lights of the big city.
Those lights never really shone brightly on Robinson Cano. This was and still is Derek Jeter’s team. Yet during his nine years in pinstripes, Cano amassed 1,649 hits, 204 home runs, five All-Star team selections, five Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves and a World Series ring. Not too shabby. Maybe if there had been a few more World Series championships during his tenure in the Bronx, he’d have been paid for past services rendered much like the Captain. Or maybe not. This is the alleged New World order for New York. The one where 10-year deals are not an option especially for players on the wrong side of 30.
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So the Yankees held fast to their guns. They did not budge on the $300 million, 10-year deal that Robinson Cano and agent/hip hop mogul Jay-Z wanted. They did not overpay for another player who would be 40-and-not-so-fabulous by the time he came off their books.
Now what? Who plays second base? Certainly not Kelly Johnson, who they recently signed. He’s a nice add-on, but not an everyday option. Could Omar Infante be the next Yankee second baseman? That’s the name that comes up the most. He did have a nice year for Detroit, hitting .318 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs. Or they could attempt to lure Brandon Phillips from the Cincinnati Reds via a trade if they can come up with the right pieces. But the easy way for the Yanks will be to spend some cash.
By not having to commit funds for Robinson Cano’s contract, the Yankees have the money to play around with. They could have $27.5 million more if Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the entire 2014 season for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. That will help in filling some of the gaping holes in the infield.
Before the announcement of Robinson Cano’s departure, the Yankees had been busy plugging up some other holes this offseason by signing Brian McCann to fill the chasm at catcher, as well as luring prime free-agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury away from the Red Sox. No sooner had Cano jumped ship than they also completed a one-year deal to bring back pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and a three-year deal to bring in outfielder Carlos Beltran to add more pop in the line up. The Yankees want to make sure they’re back in the playoffs next year, and these signings are a make good to their fans for a paltry 2013 season.
Say what you want about the wisdom of some of these deals, but Ellsbury and Beltran both have something the Yankees prize: great postseason stats. Robinson Cano has never been the guy whose bat carries the team throughout the playoffs. Even in 2009, the last time the Yankees won the World Series, his postseason numbers were pretty putrid (.193 BA/.266 OBP/.281 SLG). Cano also owns a dubious record. He went hitless in 29 straight at bats during the 2012 postseason. Good thing Robbie won’t have to worry about the playoffs in Seattle.
On the flip side, in 16 playoff games, Ellsbury hit .344 (22-for-64), leading all postseason players in hits and runs (14). Beltran’s postseason stats are also a thing of beauty: .333 BA/.445 OBP/.683 SLG. Those are numbers that make the Yankees brass smile.
While the Yankees will definitely miss Robinson Cano’s bat in their every day lineup, in the long run, the team will be better off because his departure frees up a lot of cash. It was all about the money … and now the Yankees have more of it. Let the spending spree continue.