At What Point Would The Yankees Consider Trading Robinson Cano?

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(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Picture this.  It’s sometime around the All Star Break, and the Yankees are floundering.  Andy is on the DL again; CC has had issues with his surgically-repaired elbow and spent a 15-day stint on the shelf as well; Hirok has regressed after his heavy 2012 workload; Phil and Nova are pitching about the same as they did last season.  Jeter’s return from his ankle injury has been tough and he’s still having to take days off to stay healthy enough to play; Youkilis is underperforming and on the DL with Andy; C-Grand is still striking out a lot, Teix continues to decline, and Ichiro is pre-trade Ichiro and not the post-trade version.  The team is hovering around 3rd or 4th place in the AL East, 13 games out of the division lead and 10 out of the last Wild Card spot.  It’s the worst worst-case scenario imaginable, but one that honestly has a non-zero chance of happening.  If that were situation at the ASB, would that be enough to inspire the front office to trade Robbie Cano?

Trading Robinson Cano is something that’s been talked about in some circles around the blogosphere recently, but not nearly as much as the talk about extending or re-signing him after this season.  TYA weekend ace Mike Jaggers-Radolf posed the question on Monday, albeit not in the end-of-the-world context that I just laid out, and it is a question that needs to be asked and an option that needs to be considered.  There are a lot of things, like the ones mentioned above and in Mike’s post, that could conspire to keep the Yankees out of contention this year, and a payroll ceiling looming for next season that Cano’s new contract could make or break.  Trading him at the deadline would be a no-doubt signal that the Yankees were punting on the 2013 season, and also 2014 as well.  But if things take a turn for the worst this season, wouldn’t that be the logical decision to make?

As the best player at his position and one of the handful of best players in the game period, Cano would fetch quite a prospect haul in return, even as a rental.  His long-term production potential is still a mystery, but he’s still in his prime right now and could bring back a couple of young Major League-ready players, something the Yankees could desperately use, and plenty more.  With three 1st-round draft picks already locked up for this year’s draft, a strong lower MiL level core moving up the ladder, and Manny Banuelos coming back in 2014, adding another collection of prospect talent would give the Yankees a strong foundation to build their future core and payroll flexibility to make the $189 mil budget goal less stressful.  It would probably mean some hard times for the next few years, but it would be a great opportunity to reload for the next generation after the current Jeter-Teix-A-Rod-centric era.

But who would really be in the market for Cano?  The Dodgers are clearly the 1A to the Yankees’ 1 when it comes to biggest free agent contenders, but after all the moves they made last year would they be willing to give up another group of young players to add Cano when they could just keep the players and try to win the bidding for him a few months later?  Other big market teams like Bahhston, the Angels, and the Rangers either already have good players at second base or have spent a lot of money on big FAs lately or both.  The Phillies have seen first-hand how quickly a second baseman can deteriorate when he gets into his 30s and would probably stay out of the bidding.  And any other serious contender who could use an offensive boost would have to think long and hard about giving up the type of prospect package it would take to get Cano just to risk losing him to free agency after the season.  Teams that haven’t done that, like the Giants, Braves, and Nationals, are reaping the benefits right now.

The Yankees are fiercely loyal to their homegrown stars.  That’s why Derek Jeter is still playing shortstop every day, why Jorge Posada was allowed to stay behind the plate every day long after he had lost his ability to be an effective defensive catcher, and why Phil Hughes might end up getting a big chunk of money to stay in pinstripes even after “failing” to live up to his mid-2000s prospect hype.  Cano is the best homegrown player the team has developed since Jeter, and he’s the straw that stirs the Yankee drink.  Based on that and past history, he should be a lock to be finishing his career in a Yankee uniform, but the way things have played out have made that much less of a sure thing.

Cash and ownership have already put themselves in a bad spot by not trying to work out an extension earlier and by setting a payroll budget at the same time Cano is primed to headline the upcoming free agent class.  If they are serious about continuing to field a championship-caliber team, re-signing Cano should be their top priority next offseason.  But the team constructed for this season is already not up to your typical championship-caliber level, and if things go poorly then it really might be time for all parties involved to consider the dreaded “R” word.  Rebuilding is not something that’s in the Yankees’ vocabulary, at least it hasn’t been for many years, but if they get to a point where it’s starting to look like a reality, moving Cano would be a great way to start it.  The question is, what would it take to make that happen and would the Yankees have the balls to do it?

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS and An A-Blog for A-Rod, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

15 thoughts on “At What Point Would The Yankees Consider Trading Robinson Cano?

  1. Scout

    “Rebuilding is not something that’s in the Yankees’ vocabulary, at least it hasn’t been for many years.” You might as well stop right there. The Yankee business model is predicated on fielding a contending team each year. Whether outsiders like us see that as realistic or not given the current roster construction, management does. And Hal has pronounced that this business model wil continue to be in force even under the $189 million cap of 2014 and after. So, no, the Yankees will not trade Cano in the middle of the season.

  2. I’m not sure why “failed” is in quotes. We can argue the value of a back of the rotation innings eater, but I can’t imagine anyone thought we’d be entering year seven and happy with Phil Hughes being one

    • That’s a fair point, but at the same time Hughes could be out of baseball entirely. There are a lot of top prospects that completely flame out before they even make the show, so the fact that Hughes is still pitching and still in his prime with time to improve is enough for me to not call him a complete failure.

  3. OldYanksFan

    The Yankees know it will take at least $150m to keep Cano, and possibly much more. They should also know at this point IF they will go to the mat for Cano or not.

    If we trade Cano, we have no chance for the Post Season this year. But frankly, I think the odds are against us anyway. Unfortunately for those that believe in rebuilding, I don’t think the Yanks will give up on this year, with Mo and Andy both back (and possibly in their last year) in hopes of Winning.

    It’s a tough call.
    I guess at worst, we will get a draft pick if Cano walks.

    By the by, over at RAB, we took a poll. 66% of almost 2,000 voters did NOT want to offer Cano the Moon. After ARod and Teix, I think many fans are phobic of another overpaid contract.

    • SDM

      That’s a little misleading, 30 percent voted to let him walk, the remainder were willing to offer 7+ years at big money. Considering so many on the site didn’t want to give Cano a 6 year deal (or claimed not to), I think that shows they will go long term to keep him

      • OldYanksFan

        True enough. 30%+ put his maximum contract at 7/$142m… which is essencially letting him walk. I assume we all feel $142m isn’t even close to getting it done.

        • SDM

          Not true, people might think the years get’s it done but the money isn’t sufficient or vice versa. I think Robbie will take a 7 year deal (and voted for it) but I think (and would pay him)sufficiently more money.

  4. hawaii dave

    I’ve commented on this 3-4 times in blogs over the last month.

    Certain facts are present. One, If the Yankees sign Cano to a huge contract, then they will have a large percentage of payroll going to the Rod, CC, Tex, and Cano, to the tune of 105 mil, give or take a few mil. That leaves 85 mil to sign 21 roster players and I think the 189 cap includes the 40 man roster to, but if I’m wrong, keep it to the 25…so 21 players need to be signed with 85 mil. Then you have Mo, Andy, and Kuroda all needing to be replaced. Maybe Grandy too. Those are usually high salary range positions, but of course, not necessarily.

    So my opinion is that you get no strong value in return for any player being traded at the deadline, who can walk at the end of the season. So, as I commented on several sites, and in deference to those who say the Yankees are not “rebuilders”…I say trade Cano and Granderson NOW, before the season starts and get as many blue chip, major league ready or near ready players as is possible.

    Now, some guys think the Yankees can win this year. Sure, the Mets won in 69, so any team w some decent pitching and defense can win. But what is “likely” to happen. The Yanks will likely be a bit worse this season that 2012. But I know this much, after the season is over, the problems will still be there. It will be either getting 21 players w 85 mil….or 23 players w 107 mil and 4-5 blue chip prospects. Or even worse, needing 23 players with 107 mil, no prospects, just 2 draft picks for letting Grandy and Cano leave.

    • Hawaii Dave

      I may have exaggerated the combined salaries of the Ro, CC, Tex, an the anticipated Cano mega deal.

  5. fuster

    there’s not gonna be any trade of Cano at the deadline because there’s not gonna be any offer that’s worth the awful public reaction and the tacit admission that the Yankees were tanking the season

    • bottom line

      Which only shows how chicken-s**t Yankee management has become. And misguided too. The public reaction and decline in revenue will be far worse once this team begins its inevitable decline.
      Worst of all, there has been to date no effort to plan how the team can compete in the future with an ancient roster, a payroll under budget constraints, drug-addled thir baseman sucking up a huge chunk of payroll and with a pack of new rivals ready to spend new TV contract money.
      The 189 goal is fine but pretty boy Hal has done nothing to convince me that he undertands the effort and commitment to youth that it will require.

      • fuster

        bottom, I think that there’s been quite a bit of thought about how to change the roster.

        they’ve spent years stockpiling pitchers and catchers.

        they’ve three fine outfield prospects a year or two away from the bigs.
        they have Nunez to replace Jeter and they have contracts with players to cover the corner infield spots for years to come.

        this is all about whether they re-sign Cano or not.

        it ain’t that the sky is falling.

  6. bottom line

    BTW, I thought this very realistic examination of the Cano question was an excellent post.

  7. Duh, Innings!

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, and I will say it until Cano is locked up or gone:

    Hall Of Fame secondbasemen Bill Mazerowski, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, Ryne Sandberg, and Roberto Alomar all declined after age 33, Cano turns 31 next 11/22. History shows Cano will most likely decline after age 33, so the Yanks should offer him no more than four years which would take him through age 35. Let his final year be the year after the contracts are up for Teixiera, Sabathia, and Jeter if he’s re-signed for three more years (as no way he’s taking just a year or two or signing two contracts to be a Yankee through 2016 after 2013) and the final year of A-Rod’s contract assuming A-Rod is still a Yankee going into 2017.

    As solid a Yankee as Cano has been, he still is not as good as Jeter and A-Rod were the years before they got their decade-long contracts from the Yankees, so a decade to Cano is out of the question. He’d be 41 in the final year of the deal and 35 only 4 years into it. Where in the history of MLB has a second-basemen produced at an All-Star level I expect Cano to produce at for his money at age 36-41? The Yanks can ill afford to be stuck with another albatross contract. Also, A-Rod’s decline began with his age 32 season. He was still very productive 2008-10 but he wasn’t quite as fearsome as he was through 2007. He went from 54 HR and 156 RBI in 2007 to 35 HR and 103 RBI in 2008. Any team would take 35 and 103 from anyone but that was a scary drop considering his age (not a kid but by no means old.) Also one could argue A-Rod wasn’t working hard enough else why the 19 HR 53 RBI drop? He got his contract, relaxed, and got soft and/or he stopped taking PEDs – what else?

    Also here’s another problem: Cano becomes a 10-and-5 player after 2014 which means he needs a no-trade clause in his contract for the first year of the contract only.

    The Yanks should offer Cano 4 years and $94M ($23M a year 2014-16, $25M for 2017) or what Sabathia will earn 2013-16 with the same yearly payouts because he is not more valuable than Sabathia and he might be less valuable than Sabathia.

    Cano could be A-Rod II.

    Four years $94M is the second-highest payout to a homegrown Yankee.

  8. Now Batting

    There will always be a team willing to trade prospects at the deadline for Cano. The Giants traded Wheeler for Beltran, an inferior player.

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