Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for winning the 2013 World Series. Winning a championship is an incredible achievement in itself, but the triumph is augmented when considering they finished last in the AL East only a year ago.
Obviously there were numerous changes within the organization that led to the championship, but the first step was undeniably last year’s trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, Boston lost Adrian Gonzalez, who was the best hitter on the team, but they also rid themselves of two horrible contracts with Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. In doing so, they basically pressed the reset button, which allowed them to bring in more affordable free agents and make room for upcoming prospects.
Seeing what the Red Sox achieved after they wiped their hands of those lurid contracts make me wonder if the New York Yankees could do the same, which is why I want to pose this question to Yankees fans: would you be willing to trade Robinson Cano (assuming New York re-signs him) if a team was willing to take Alex Rodriguez’s contract with him?
This hypothetical situation is similar to what the Red Sox faced, in that the deal would involve sacrificing the best hitter on the team (both left-handed, coincidentally) in order to free up exorbitant sums of cash – money that was previously tied down by under-performing veterans who crippled the organization. However, there is one crucial difference.
Cano is a home grown player who won a championship with the team in 2009. As a result, he has a greater bond with the fan base and the organization because we’ve watched him his whole career. He’s never played for another organization. He’s our guy. He’s a Yankee.
It’s the same reason the New York Mets have never traded David Wright after falling out of contention. He’s the home grown talent, the best player on the team, the face of the franchise. By trading him, the team loses more than just their three-hitter.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, was a free agent addition. They brought him in to bolster the lineup, which he did, but there was no deeper connection. It was easy for the Red Sox to part with him because he came to the team as a bat-for-hire. Honestly, the greatest thing Gonzalez ever did for Boston was to make the Dodgers want him badly enough to also take Crawford and Beckett. The Red Sox ought to send him a World Series ring for his contribution to the team as the bargaining chip which allowed them to build their 2013 roster.
A player has greater significance to a team if he comes up through its farm system. While Yankees fans absolutely love guys like Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez, they probably won’t get their numbers retired. Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, already has his number retired, Derek Jeter is a lock, and Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada have decent shots at securing real estate in Monument Park. What separates these four guys from the others is that they played their entire careers in pinstripes.
This is why the Yankees trading Cano would be different than the Red Sox trading Gonzalez. The Yankees producing an elite ball player rather than signing one has become a rare feat. Now that they have one, it would be difficult to let him go. Still, it might be worth it for the Yankees to trade Cano if it meant shedding A-Rod’s contract from the payroll, which will no doubt handcuff the Yankees until 2017. I’m sure Brian Cashman would love to have an extra $25 million to work with this offseason, as well as whatever Cano’s going to make.
The question is whether that extra money could replace what they lose by trading their best hitter. For the 2013 Red Sox, the answer was a resounding yes. Perhaps the Yankees can follow their example.
Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.