Cano Signs 10-year Contract with Seattle Mariners, Mistakes Maybe but no Villains in the Transaction

Howard Goldin

Don’t you know? Robinson Cano reportedly agreed to a 10-year deal to play with the Seattle Mariners. On Friday morning, one day after the Yankees brass displayed their new catcher, Brian McCann, at a press conference, they were pondering how to replace their star second sacker on next year’s team.

A contract to work for $240 million would be difficult for most rational individuals, other than those at the financial level of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to reject. The only baseball contracts at that level or higher were the $252 million and $275 million 10 year deals signed by Alex Rodriguez respectively with the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees and the 10-years for $240 million agreed to by Alex Pujols and the Angels.

The rarity of such high salaried baseball contracts exhibits the difficulty of any organization’s ownership agreeing to such a large amount of money and over such a long period of time.

Before the agreement was announced, Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman spoke of his feelings on the matter, “Everybody is replaceable. That’s a team concept. Some people are harder to replace than others, no doubt about it. We will and have made extensive efforts to show him that we’d like to keep him.”

The latest public offer from the Yankees, demonstrating either the truth or falsity of Cashman’s words, was $175 million. Although that amount is also substantial, the difference between it and the offer Cano agreed to is $65 million. The differential is even greater than that because of the additional city and state tax in New York.

Perhaps the recent signing of Jacoby Ellsbury by the Yankees for $153 million for seven years had a negative impact upon Cano, who has been with the organization since January 5, 2001 when he was signed as a non-drafted free agent.

The future years will determine who made mistakes in these recent decisions, but there are no villains in the financial transactions. Cano is obligated to earn as much as he is able. He has not held anyone up with a gun. His new agents, Jay Z and Brodie Van Wagenen, accomplished much for their first baseball client, which should greatly benefit their business in the future.

The Seattle Mariners obtained an outstanding major league player in his prime, age 31, who they hope to build future success around. They also hope his signing will lead other talented players to sign with the franchise this year and in the coming decade. They may have overpaid but that cannot be known definitively for years to come.

The Yankees will miss the presence of Cano in their everyday lineup. A Gold Glove winning infielder who has smashed 142 home runs and driven in 513 runs in the last five seasons is not easy to replace.  Names already mentioned as possibly becoming Yankees are  Omar Infante and Brndon Phillips.

The Yankees were previously burned by agreeing to a 10 year contract with A-Rod and, obviously, did not want go down that road again. Was it a mistake not to try harder to re-sign Cano? The team’s fortunes in the pennant races of the next several years will gave the answer to that question.

Three other local signings also took place on Friday but to much less notoriety. Hiroki Kuroda signed a one-year contract for $16 million with the Yankees and Curtis Granderson became the most expensive free agent signing of the Mets since Jason Bay in 2009. Grandy is moving to Citi Field for four years with a contract worth $60 million. Late in the day, it was announced that eight year major leaguer Kelly Johnson signed a one-year contract with the Yankees. Johnson is capable of playing a variety of positions, which may be crucial to the club.

More deals may be made next week as the annual MLB Winter Meetings will be held in Florida beginning on Monday.