MLB Rumors: Could The Washington Nationals Go After Robinson Cano After 2013?

By Thom Tsang
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper. Stephen Strasburg. Jayson Werth. Rafael Soriano. You know them as members of the Washington Nationals, but before that, you might have also known that they are clients of super-agent Scott Boras.

Yes, the Nationals and Boras have had a lot of history together and while there have been ups and downs, the Nationals are getting positive results as they find themselves looking to defend their place in 2013 as the best team in baseball.

After that’s over, though, could the two strike again to broker their biggest deal yet? ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks it’s a possibilty.

As the New York Yankees are currently busy trying to work out a long-term extension with Robinson Cano, arguably the team’s most important player, it’s probably pretty safe to put this one in the “very unlikely speculations” column. Unlikely as it may be, however, it’s still a compelling scenario to think about.

The Nationals are just about as complete a team as there is in the bigs these days, but like all other good teams, they are by no means perfect.

With Cano, they may very well be.

That’s no slight to Danny Espinosa, the team’s projected starting second baseman, who may not be ready for the start of the season because of an ailing shoulder. Even if he is, though, there simply isn’t another second baseman as good as Cano in baseball today.

To add a perennial 5-7 fWAR player to a core that already features stars like Harper, Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman, who are all already under team control over the long term, would be…well, I think the impact would be self-evident.

Whether the team could realistically get it done logistically, on the other hand, is what makes this speculation so unlikely.

The team already has a pair of nine-figure contracts in Zimmerman and Werth and it’s unlikely that they will be able to afford a third in Cano that spans over most of the next decade–at least not if they want to look down the line to see the day when players like Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann will need extensions of their own.

To boost their payroll further with Cano would be, for lack of a better term, a Yankees-like move, and that New York is more than prepared to open their wallets now at the potential expense of players like Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes suggests that they will spend every dollar necessary to keep Cano there. For the Nats to sign him would likely mean putting their ability to extend their younger stars at serious risk.

In essence, it comes down to need and the fact is that the Yankees are still a significantly richer team and they need Cano more than the Nationals do. That said, such a role reversal would be an interesting shakeup of the league’s balance of power, no?

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