With Robinson Cano reportedly going to the Seattle Mariners on a 10-year, $240 million deal there are many people who will put the onus on the New York Yankees to make a statement signing to fill what is perceived as a gaping hole. After all Cano is a five-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger winner, has won two Gold Glove Awards and also won one World Series title, so there is no doubting that he is one of the best baseball players in the world and cannot be easily replaced.
But while Cano’s regular season output cannot be replaced by anyone else on the free agent market today, there is no doubting that the Yankees are better off for moving on. The position of second base is not one that wins you World Series championships, especially not when your so-called big bopper has only compiled a statistical line of .222/.267/.419 in 51 playoff games and .136/.130/.136 in New York’s 2009 World Series victory. To pay a guy the same exact contract that Albert Pujols once received would be foolish at best and would have the potential to end disastrously.
Additionally the Yankees lineup will be not only be fine without the presence of Cano, but they could easily score the most runs in all of baseball. After all the middle of their lineup consists of big-boppers Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez, who could each plausibly drive in 80-100 runs in 2013 given good health. This will only be made easier by table setters Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner, who have each served as viable lead-off hitters in the past and could also do so again in the future.
Losing out on one guy–even if it is Robinson Cano–cannot only be made up by this group of hitters but likely will not even be noticed. Going out and getting a guy like Omar Infante, whom the Yankees have been in contact with, would also ensure little of a drop in the field and save the team close to $20 million per year.
Saving this vast amount of money will allow the Yankees to address their biggest need right now which is starting pitching. Currently they only have C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova signed on as for their starting rotation, and even if rumors of Hiroki Kuroda closing in on a one-year, $16 million deal come to fruition they need another impact pitcher.
With the market for these types of guys few and far between, New York will be better off saving $24 million on Cano and spending it on either Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana. Each of these available impact pitchers have top level stuff that should translate well into postseason baseball, and with World Series championships being the Yankees’ goal each year this will be a better investment than a second baseman that doesn’t produce in the playoffs.
Consider that even if they do sign one of these three for $15 million and Kuroda for $16 million there will still be approximately $18 million available to shore up the bullpen, fill out the bench and possibly sign a fifth starter before hitting the $189 million threshold. With avoiding this mark being a stated goal of owner Hal Steinbrenner, it is clear that the Yankees’ path to winning the World Series in 2014 and being a great team moving forward has actually been made vastly easier by not signing Cano.