The unthinkable has happened for the Yankees with Robinson Cano leaving New York for greener pastures in Seattle. Those greener pastures refer to money rather than winning, with Cano receiving an incredible 10-year, $240 million deal from Seattle, which was three years longer and $65 million more than the Yankees had offered him.
With Seattle offering so much money very few people will blame the Yankees for not matching, although I would have liked to see them at least offer an eight-year, $200 million deal, but it probably would not have been enough anyways. Also, I do not get them playing hard ball with Cano, yet being perfectly willing to overpay Jacoby Ellsbury. The really sad part about losing Cano is losing a player that could have been an all-time Yankee for his entire career.
Cano was signed as an amateur free agent in 2001 and received a signing bonus of over $100,000. He made his major league debut on May 3, 2005 in Tampa to take over for Tony Womack with the Yankees needing a spark, and he provided it. Cano finished his rookie season hitting .297/.320/.458/.778 and finished second in American Rookie of the Year balloting.
Cano did not look back after that and had a spectacular sophomore season when he hit .342/.365/.525/.890. He had a solid 2007 season, but followed that up with a very poor 2008 season.
Cano’s numbers were down across the board in 2008, and the big worry was his paltry .305 OBP. Cano had never been the most patient hitter to that point in his career, but his OBP was never that low. Besides never walking he did not hit either, as his 86 wRC+ and .311 wOBA were both the lowest marks of his career. Questions about his commitment and work ethic were also raised in 2008.
Cano had to turn it around in 2009 or else his future with the team may had been in jeopardy, and he responded by starting to become a star.
Cano often gets forgotten about on the 2009 Yankees championship team because of Alex Rodriguez‘s all-time playoff performance, Derek Jeter‘s renaissance season, the contributions from the huge free agent additions CC Sabathia, Mark Texeira and A.J. Burnett and the fact that he did not hit much in the postseason. However, coming off a 2008 that raised real questions about his future, he was a key component of a championship team. Cano’s power spiked from 14 home runs to 25 and raised his OBP back up to .352.
2010 was the season that Cano became the best second baseman in baseball and established himself as the best player on the Yankees. He hit .319/.381/.534/.914 with 29 home runs and 109 RBI. Cano won his first gold glove in 2009 and finished a career high 3rd in MVP voting. Also, he did his best to carry the Yankees back to the World Series on his shoulders when he hit .348/.375/.913/1.288 with four home runs in New York’s ALCS loss to Texas.
2011-2013 was more of the same for Cano. He finished 6th, 4th, and 5th respectively in the AL MVP voting those years while continuing to play every single game and being the top player at his position. The best year of Cano’s career probably was 2012 when he set career high in home runs (33), OPS (.929), w/OBA (.394) and wRC+ (149).
Cano’s last season in pinstripes was the hardest that he had to work to put up huge numbers. Due to injuries, and the Yankees not putting enough around him to begin with, Cano was basically a one man lineup at times. That did not stop him form putting up his usual MVP caliber numbers and doing his best to carry the Yankees to the playoffs.
Cano was just such a talented and skilled player to watch, and I will greatly miss watching him play on a daily basis. He did things on the diamond that you just do not see every day, particularly the way he turned the double play and the ease in which he did his patented side arm throws.
Some fans didn’t connect with Cano as much as I did because he didn’t run out every ground ball to first. I did not get why people complain about him not busting it on balls he is clearly going to be out on, especially when the man played every single inning of every game and put up the numbers that he did. Everybody around the Yankees said that Cano was one of the hardest working players on the team and took extra batting practice more than just about anybody, so claims of him being lazy are just absurdly false.
With Derek Jeter set to retire soon the Yankees will need a new face of the franchise and it is sad that Cano could have been that guy and now won’t be. He had a great chance of being the first Domincan player honored in Monument Park and now that is gone as well.
Cano finished his Yankee career 1st among all-time Yankees second basemen in batting average, OPS, doubles and home runs, 2nd in RBI and 3rd in hits and runs scored. He leaves being probably the greatest Yankees second baseman of all-time, but he could have meant so much more to the Yankees than that if he had stayed, and that is very sad to think about.