5 Teams That Could Make 2014 Free-Agent Pitch for Yankees Star Robinson Cano
The Yankees have a lot on their minds these days, though nothing is more important than locking up the AL East division crown and punching a ticket to the postseason. Also at play is their desire to get several players back from injuries who can help them get there—namely, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte.
Yet as Yankees management looks beyond this season and into the future, it is well aware that its best overall player may only have one more full season in pinstripes—unless it can secure a long-term deal for him before he tests the free-agent market.
The Yankees are no different from any other franchise in that they need to protect their most valuable assets and make sure to keep them before other teams can get their hands on them. The greatest variables in any decision to keep a player—particularly one aging into his 30s—is the price tag and the time commitment.
Robinson Cano is one of the best players in baseball and he's proven so over the last several seasons. Cano has the fifth highest WAR (wins above replacement) of any big leaguer in 2012, he hits for power and average, and he's a tremendously talented second baseman that delivers the goods on defense.
Cano will also turn 31 following the 2013 season and should still be in his prime, but for how many more years can one reasonably assume that he'll play at a great—or even All-Star—level? Cano's agent, the notorious deal broker, Scott Boras, will likely command, at minimum, a six-year deal for Cano, which will likely value his services in excess of $20-24M per season.
Cano's true value will be dictated by the market, but elite talents that play second base at such a high-level don't exactly come along very often. Cano's available suitors will be determined by how much money they're willing to spend, in the same way that the price tag that Boras advertises for Cano will determine the suitors.
Here are five teams that will likely make a run at Cano, assuming the Yankees don't lock him up to a longer-term deal prior to the 2013-2014 offseason.
1) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick has given Los Angeles solid production the last several years, but don't think for a second that they wouldn't cut him loose in favor of an elite slugger like Cano.The Angels have the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, and they've shown through the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson that they'll stop at nothing to get their man.
The Angels are a big market team hungry for another World Series title, and their fans have to be salivating thinking of Cano sandwiched in the middle of their batting order between Pujols and Mike Trout. Kendrick is signed through 2015, but he could easily be shifted over to the hot corner to make way for Cano.
The Angels would be foolish to not pursue Cano, and frankly, Cano would be foolish to not listen to their offer if the Yankees choose to let him enter free agency.
2) Miami Marlins
The Marlins have fallen quite short of expectations in a year where they opened a new ballpark and tried to usher in optimism in South Florida. Miami has one of the worst teams in baseball, and it has sold off some of its best players this season in order to rebuild, at a time when everyone thought that it was loading up for a pennant run.
Anibal Sanchez, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante and their former marquee franchise player Hanley Ramirez are all gone, and the Marlins offense has struggled all season long to stay competitive in the NL East. It's been a stunning turn of events for the Marlins.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has reportedly been non-committal to any big changes this offseason, but he showed a propensity to spend in order to lure Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes to Miami. He likely is willing to keep adding pieces.
Robinson Cano would look like a shiny new Cadillac if plunked down in the middle of that Miami infield.
3) Boston Red Sox
Do not put it past the Red Sox to make a legitimate run at Robinson Cano—even with Dustin Pedroia currently at second. Pedroia is a solid second baseman that could easily be shifted over to the left-side of the infield or even into the outfield to make way for Cano.
Boston recently shed a fortune's worth of payroll by unloading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford in the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It would be hard for anyone to know whether Boston would merely bluff (to raise the price for the Yankees and fellow bidders) or actually try to woo Cano away from the Big Apple.
When it comes to the Yankees-Red Sox, the rivalry often extends well beyond the playing field. Don't be surprised if Boston tries to shock New York in the 2013-2014 offseason by snagging its best hitter.
4) Los Angeles Dodgers
Would anyone really be surprised at this point if the suddenly deep-pocketed and free-spending Dodgers offered Cano the sun, moon and maybe even his own Hollywood star? The Dodgers took on a massive amount of financial obligations in their recent trade with Boston, but it's unlikely they'll stop there.
The Dodgers could look to round out their pitching rotation this offseason or next, and they're always looking for pure hitters to smack the ball all over the spacious Dodger Stadium. Cano would hardly be a stranger to the limelight—having played his whole career in New York—and he'd fit nicely in between Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez.
Imagine that heart of the batting order for a second. Wow.
Magic Johnson and LA ownership may become the Yankees of the West Coast and start making monster runs at the most valuable free agents. Heck, maybe they've already become the Yankees of the West Coast, given all the high-priced contracts they just took on from Boston.
They're likely envisioning Cano at second base right now.
5) Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are another winning franchise with lots of money to spend that would love to see Robinson Cano in their star-studded infield. Texas has a productive hitter at second base currently in Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler is not of Cano's caliber, neither with the glove or the stick.
Kinsler is signed through 2017 but he could very easily be shifted to the outfield in the coming years.
Texas has won the American League pennant the past two seasons but has fallen short of the World Series title in heartbreaking fashion. The Rangers have made dramatic leaps in payroll, as their financial outlays have nearly doubled in just two seasons. The Rangers are desperate to win a World Series and want to do so as soon as possible.
Might Cano be a target of the Rangers next offseason? You could hardly put it past them, especially if the club lets Josh Hamilton walk after this season.