New York Yankees In A Bind With Robinson Cano Contract Talks

By Thom Tsang
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

On his current path, Robinson Cano is set to enter free agency at the top of the 2013-2014 class, with no one coming even close to the type of contract the 30-year old is set to receive in the open market.

The New York Yankees know that, and they’re even treading new waters by beginning the contract negotiation process with the second baseman now as opposed to at the expiration of his contract, as the team had done with other players.

Of course, Cano isn’t just like anyone else on the team.

Even on a team that has no shortage of big-contract and big-named players like the Yankees, the 30-year old has the distinction of being the team’s best player; and at 20.1 fWAR over the last three years, nobody even comes close.

So yes, Cano is going to get paid, so to speak. The problem, though, is that how much he thinks he ought to be paid isn’t necessarily the price that the Yankees want to pay.

Facing the scary prospect of having a nine-figure sum still committed to Alex Rodriguez for the next half decade, the Yankees have seen that World Series are, in fact, not necessarily won by a large payroll, and are trying to trim the number down to a self-imposed guideline of around $189 million.

That’s not going to be easy, considering they’ll have some $73.5 million – 40 percent of the target – already committed to just three players – C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A-Rod.

If the do sign Cano, it’ll likely mean that they will have to try to approach the $189 million goal with about 60 percent of it committed to four of its stars.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Yankees are aware of how difficult that will be, and as a result, early discussions with the player – and Scott Boras, his agent – has yielded “a significant difference in either talent assessment or valuation.”

Which is to say that it’s not going too well. As Heyman points out, the conversation between Yankees GM Brian Cashman and the Cano camp is “obviously a touchy subject” at this point, with the negotiations between the two sides potentially going down to the wire at the end of the 2013 season.

The Yankees will be motivated to keep it from going there, as this is the type of thing that could serve as a significant distraction to the team throughout the 2013 season.

The potential of losing Cano will put the team at a serious crossroads as to where its future is headed, and the Bombers are in a bind, both trying to limit salary, but knowing that they make have to sign another all-time contract with numbers that will be up there with those of A-Rod and Sabathia.

Though the difference between the two sides may be substantial, it’s a gap that the Yankees and Cano will have to bridge – and soon, if the team hopes to keep its best player by 2014.

The Los Angeles Dodgers loom, and you can bet they’ve got at least one more big check in them.

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