Earlier this week Randy Levine of the Yankees Front Office indicated a willingness to part ways with Robinson Cano should he seek too much money in free agency. Strategically, I don’t know why he would say this, unless early negotiations with Cano’s representatives were not going well. Over the past four years Cano has only been the best Yankee and one of the best players in baseball. The Yankees should be willing to walk away from Robbie if the money doesn’t make sense for the organization, but they shouldn’t say that publicly.
That said, the announcement raises the question: How much should the Yankees give Cano? Entering Sunday night’s game Robbie was hitting .312/.385/.520, good for a .385 wOBA, not materially off the .394 wOBA he posted in 2012. His 5.9 fWAR were eleventh best in baseball. With so few games left, Cano’s production is assured. His numbers may change slightly, but Robbie has put up another solid season. What’s that production worth?
According to Fangraphs Robbie was worth $29.4 million so far in 2013. In 2012 he was worth $34.8 million. That’s far more than he’ll get in salary in free agency, but the combined picture that emerges is of a player who could easily command $20 million a year.
As always with Robbie, it comes down to the years. Cano will be on the wrong side of 30 playing a position that does not historically age well. In a perfect world the Yankees could lock Cano up for only three more years, but surely he’ll get a better deal somewhere else. But anything more than five years seems like paying for past production. The question then becomes, will the Yankees pay for past production? If they don’t, will a different team pay for it?