After months of contract speculations between the two parties, Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero has agreed to a 4-year $28 million deal with the Dodgers.
I know what you’re saying, what does this have to do with the Yankees? The Dodgers needed a second baseman, and they had the biggest wad of cash in their wallet next to the Yankees this offseason. We already heard that Los Angeles did not plan to pursue Robinson Cano, but this signing now makes it all the more unlikely. It leaves the Yankees as the stand out favorites to re-sign Cano.
After the Dodgers, there seem to be very few other threats to signing Cano now. We know that the Rangers had interest in the left-hander earlier this season, but that was in a trade. Although the Rangers have a reputation of being big spenders on the free agent market, they rarely live up to that. Yu Darvish took a $100+ million commitment, but he’s only paid $9.3 million a year. Adrian Beltre also fell to the Rangers with a relatively friendly $16 million a year. It’s hard to imagine the Rangers spending well over $20 million a year on a player after their Alex Rodriguez withdrawal in 2004, and it’s not like the team is desperate for quality second baseman with Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar on the roster.
It’s unlikely to see many of the other big players involved with Cano. The Phillies recently extended Chase Utley potentially through the 2018 season, the Red Sox extended Dustin Pedroia through 2021, the Giants have Marco Scutaro and the Angels have Howie Kendrick both signed through 2015. Meanwhile, the White Sox have made it clear that Jose Dariel Abreu was their big signing of the year, and neither them nor the Blue Jays become contenders by simply adding Robinson Cano.
The only team I can seriously see competing with the Yankees is the Tigers. Both Omar Infante and Johnny Peralta will be free agents this winter, leaving them with an opening in the middle infield. You’d expect that Jose Iglesias would be their shortstop, but the Tigers need a second baseman as well. Their 2014 payroll projects to be around $130 million after adding in raises for Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello, and a number of arbitration eligible players. They should have about $20 million to spend if they want to maintain their 2013 payroll, but they have additional needs and a ton of payroll already designated for the next 5 years. Signing Cano would require them to expand their budget over the long term, but it would make them serious favorites for the next few years with an infield of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Robinson Cano.
There are a few wild card teams that could come out of nowhere to threaten the Yankees, but I don’t think any of them could beat the Yankees’ offer. Even if you’re not a fan of re-signing Cano, taking the Dodgers out of the mix leaves the team in a great negotiating position. As I mentioned, the Tigers are the only logical team left to bid up the Yankees, and that can easily change if they re-sign Omar Infante. The $300 million contract was always a negotiating tactic by the Cano side, he was never getting Rodriguez money, but it’s becoming more and more likely that Cano will have to settle closer to a David Wright or Evan Longoria-type contract. He won’t be team friendly, but I question if Cano can even reach $200 million this offseason.