Team president Randy Levine claims that Cano is not a "re-sign at all costs" player, meaning that there will be limits to the team's pursuit of the All-Star second baseman, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Cano has been, arguably, the Yankees' best player since the team's World Series victory in 2009. He has established himself as the top second baseman in all of baseball and is on pace to cement his name next to some of the greatest second basemen in MLB history.
A career .308/.355/.504 hitter with 203 home runs and 812 RBI, Cano is still in his prime. An MVP candidate each of the past four seasons, the 30-year-old likely won't be adding that hardware to his trophy case anytime soon while playing in the same league as Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout. Still, having his name in the discussion each season is an accomplishment in itself.
Not re-signing Cano would mean two things for the Yankees. For one, it would be a huge blow to the franchise. Cano is the best homegrown star since Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, and each of the aforementioned players has an important place in Yankees lore. Cano hasn't brought in the championships like those four have, but his skills at the plate and in the field are undeniable.
Secondly, it could signal the end of this current Yankee mindset. Letting Cano walk in free agency to a team willing to pony up the big bucks would likely mean that general manager Brian Cashman is prepared to enter a rebuilding phase—a phase the Yankees haven't seen for nearly two decades.
Saving nearly $200 million on one player would give Cashman the resources to rebuild internally and bring in quality guys around the current ones in place, but the team would seriously lack star power. Jeter's career is nearly over, Alex Rodriguez really can't be relied upon past 2013, Mark Teixeira is rapidly declining and Curtis Granderson might also be on his way out this offseason.
The pitching staff is nearly in shambles, and the bullpen will be without an identity in the first year of the sans-Rivera era. Next season would be the perfect time to start rebuilding, but I'm not so sure letting Cano walk is the right first step.
Every rebuilding team has a good (or even great) player to build around. The Miami Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton, the Chicago White Sox have Chris Sale and the Houston Astros have Jose Altuve. Keeping Cano on a seven-year deal would presumably keep him around for the next great wave of Yankees (Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, etc.), and he could act as a mentor for the next generation of Bronx Bombers.
Plus, he's shown no indications of slowing down just yet. He can still be an above-average hitter by age 35.
Levine could just be saying this because he doesn't want Yankees fans to get their hopes up if the team is somehow outbid by the Los Angeles Dodgers or another big-money club, so I wouldn't put too much stock in it just yet.
Cano has until the end of the World Series before looking for a home, and the Yankees will have plenty of time to crunch numbers and fit him into their plans. He's the franchise at this point, and you just can't let a guy like that walk away.