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Constructing New York Yankees' Backup Plan if Robinson Cano Bolts This Winter

Ely SussmanCorrespondent IJune 22, 2013

When New York Yankees star Robinson Cano ditched agent Scott Boras for Jay-Z several months ago, there was understandable optimism that he would consent to a long-term contract extension.

Not so fast, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Cano and the Yankees are "nowhere near a deal" as his free agency looms, which means manager Brian Cashman needs to prepare for the worst.

Despite the All-Star's Alex Rodriguez-esque expectations (approximately 10 years, $275 million), there ought to be widespread interest around the league. The Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers were big spenders last winter, and both would be greatly improved with Cano manning second base.

Throughout MLB history, there has seldom been a player at the position who flaunts 30-homer power, a dynamic throwing arm and elite durability.

Conveniently, New York has several big-name players coming off the books following the 2013 season. Those impending departures, however, will expose other weaknesses up and down the Yankees roster. Ownership is adamant about getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014, anyway.

Hey, maybe it's for the best that their perennial MVP candidate finds a new home. The St. Louis Cardinals, for example, haven't skipped a beat in the post-Albert Pujols era.

With that said, cutting ties with Cano could derail the Yankees if they don't have a reasonable plan in place.

So let's give them one!

 

Sign Brendan Ryan to a Multi-Year Deal

In a league that overrates power hitting and often ignores glove work, Ryan should come cheap ($2-3 million per year). The Yankees can grab him for an even lower annual rate by guaranteeing the contract through 2015 or 2016.

They better overwhelm him in November and make it hard to say no.

Since 2010, the defensive whiz owns a brutal .219/.286/.294 batting line, but relocating from Safeco Field to Yankee Stadium will help. Just look at what it did for Ichiro Suzuki in 2012, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Ryan has no equal among MLB middle infielders. The stats confirm that:

Statistic

Ryan's Ranking Among 2B/SS (Since 2010)

Ultimate Zone Rating

1st

Defensive Runs Saved

1st

Double Plays Started

5th

So do the highlights, courtesy of MLB.com:

All in all, we're talking about an above-average player who can compensate for Derek Jeter's diminishing range. Ryan would be an acceptable double-play partner...if the Yankees whiff on their ideal Cano replacement.

 

Trade for Ian Kinsler

The Texas Rangers, of course, have already inked him to a big contract. Kinsler is guaranteed $57 million for the 2014-2017 seasons with a $12 million club option for 2018 ($5 million buyout).

That's barely half—at most, two-thirds—of what Cano will cost for those same years, even though in terms of quality, he and Kinsler are near equals. According to Baseball-Reference.com, their WAR averages from 2007-2012 were 5.6 and 4.6, respectively.

For the right package, the Rangers would definitely listen. Their enviable surplus of middle infielders is going to become financially burdensome unless Kinsler or Elvis Andrus is dealt. Moreover, Texas has Jurickson Profar waiting for an everyday opportunity, thus heightening the sense of urgency for a trade.

Even so, this would be a drawn-out courtship. With numerous other teams interested, the Rangers might keep their trio intact until spring training, just to make everybody sweat.

Ultimately, by providing full salary relief, top prospect Gary Sanchez, one of their Double-A outfielders and a developing pitcher, the Yankees should have no problem obtaining their target. 

In that event, Ryan would be a reserve, and that's nothing for New York to complain about.

 

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