The Seattle Mariners officially introduced Robinson Cano on Thursday, making the 10-year, $240 million deal for the second baseman final. Cano had a conversation with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, and when asked what the New York Yankees could have done to keep him Cano talked about respect. He felt the Yankees had not shown him enough respect in their recent contract negotiations.
Baseball is a business. Derek Jeter said as much when asked about his opinion on Cano leaving. In fact, when Jeter was negotiating a new contract after the 2010 season, Yankee fans saw firsthand just how tense things could get between a revered player and the front office. A free agent for the first time in his career, Jeter indicated his interest in remaining in pinstripes, but the Yankees were unwilling to agree to his ask for a five-year deal. Yankees GM Brian Cashman reportedly encouraged Jeter to test the waters in the open market, effectively telling him, “Go ahead and see what you can get somewhere else.”
Of course, Jeter re-signed with the Yankees, working out a deal worth $51 million over three years with an option for a fourth. The point here is that it should not be news to anyone that the Yankees aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy when it comes to re-signing big name players — or anyone for that matter. Did Cano really expect different treatment than Jeter got during his stint as a free agent?
Cano also told Gomez that the years were more important than the money for him. He wanted the security that comes with a 10-year deal. He wanted to know that he could end his career on this deal and never have to worry about another contract again. He said he doesn’t want to be 37, 38 years old and wondering if he’s going to have a job next season.
Of course he wants job security, but it’s a sad state of affairs that the baseball market allows for players to have job security past the point at which they are earning it. The only reason Cano would have a tough time getting a contract at age 37 would be if he was no longer valuable as a player – if he could no longer earn it. If he plans to be producing at age 37 then what does he have to worry about?
The thing is, Cano knows as well as anyone that players peak right about where he is now, maybe even a little younger. He knows he won’t actually be earning $24 million a year when he’s 40 years old, although thanks to the Mariners, he’ll be making it.
My question is – why do players want to be associated with this? Let’s assume for a moment Cano doesn’t actually care about the $65 million more he’ll make with the Mariners. Let’s assume that out of the hundreds of millions he’ll make over the life of his career, $65 million wasn’t a sticking point. He himself told Gomez that this wasn’t about the money. So let’s assume that’s true.
Cano, like Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez before him, is being paid for what he was, not what he will be. Does he really want to be “that guy” in seven years? That guy is what’s bad about baseball. That guy locks his long-time franchise up in chains. That guy is the reason his team can’t afford young talent seven years from now. That guy is an albatross around the neck of his team, slowly sucking the life out of it, and for what?
If it’s really not about the money, then why do players want to play past the time they are valuable? If Cano learned anything in New York he should have learned from his peers. Look at Mariano Rivera. Just look at how that guy went out. He went out when he was still earning his money, and the baseball world respects him for it. You want respect Robinson Cano? Earn it.