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.