Robinson Cano Rumors
While the Blue Jays may be the only AL East team currently under .500, the club is 7-3 in their past 10 games, and injured shortstop Jose Reyes may return sooner than expected. The club was a major mover last offseason, but additions such as Reyes, R.A. Dickey, and Josh Johnson have been unable to provide much of an impact. Here is a look at today's news out of the ultra-competitive American League East..
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com notes that the Yankees now have players making a total of $97MM currently on their disabled list. Andy Pettitte became the latest high-priced Yankee to head to the DL, as Vidal Nuno will be promoted in his place.
- Travis Ishikawa has extended the opt-out in his contract with the Orioles, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The 29-year-old first baseman is currently batting .304/.383/.504 over 154 PA with Triple-A Norfolk.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner commented on contract talks with second baseman Robinson Cano to David Lennon of Newsday on his way out of the MLB owners meetings today in Manhattan, saying, "We've had several conversations with [agent] Brodie [Van Wagenen], just as we did with [former agent] Scott [Boras] and a lot of it is procedural. But we're going to continue in the weeks to come to work through things and try to come to an agreement." Steinbrenner later added, "We want him to end his career here." Cano has sat atop our 2014 Free Agents Power Rankings since the beginning. More on the Yankees:
- Can a team with a $228MM payroll earn the designation "scrappy?" Steinbrenner used that adjective, expressing admiration for the Yankees' young players and cheap veterans that have allowed them to successfully weather injuries to key players so far. As for getting below the $189MM luxury tax threshold next year, Steinbrenner said, "The math works to me if the young kids do their job. It has to happen. And I've been saying that for over a year now -- that's the goal we're going to push for. But again, I'll reiterate what I always reiterate, which is we're always going to field a championship-caliber team. That's what the fans expect. That's what we expect. It's going to happen. Not going to win every year. Nobody ever does. But we're going to do what we can to field the best team we can."
- "We're going to sit down and figure out what to do when this season ends, hopefully the beginning of November," said Steinbrenner in regard to manager Joe Girardi and his expiring contract.
- Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch says he left his agent, Scott Boras, and returned to his old agent, Van Wagenen of CAA, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times on May 1st. Boesch will be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season and can hit the open market after the 2015 season. Stay on top of the representation for over 1,000 players with MLBTR's agency database.
- "He’s a good guy and I think he can be a really good player, too. He’ll be back. I just wanted to let him know that it’s up to him," Yankees infielder Jayson Nix told Waldstein, recounting a conversation with the recently-designated Chris Nelson.
- The shift from center to left field shouldn't damage Curtis Granderson's free agent value much, opined multiple executives in speaking with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Granderson isn't concerned, saying, "Not an issue for me at all. Just want to help this team in any way I can. If they need me to go back to shortstop like I did in high school, I’ll do that."
While there is nothing new to report on negotiations (or lack thereof) between Robinson Cano and the Yankees, there is still plenty of chatter surrounding the game's biggest pending free agent. Here are a few notes on Cano and the Yanks:
- The Yankees should study history before they make a long contract offer to their star second baseman, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Madden argues that the last decade has seen a host of ill-advised deals of six years or more given to position players at age 29 or beyond. With only Jim Thome's 2003 pact with the Phillies having worked out in Madden's estimation, he says that the Yanks should only go past five years with Cano via vesting options.
- Whether or not Madden is correct as to how many years Cano should get, contract discussions are sure to include recent mega-deals that guarantee much more than five years. As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk posted yesterday, he agrees with CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that contracts like those signed by then-28-year-old Joey Votto (ten years, $225M) and then-27-year-old Prince Fielder (nine years, $214MM) are among the most pertinent comparables. Indeed, Heyman pointed to David Wright as a lower bound for a Cano deal. The Mets' third bagger, who is about the same age as Cano, is signed for eight years and $138MM (including seven years and $122MM in new money). He felt he left money on the table compared to what he could have achieved on the open market, particularly as he signed a year in advance of reaching free agency. Of course, Cano is not only closer to free agency with a cleaner injury history, but stands out prominently as the best prospective 2014 free agent.
- There is one additional factor that could portend an astronomical deal for Cano. As Madden's Daily News colleague Christian Red points out, Cano is not only the Yankees' best player but may soon be its biggest star. The Yanks certainly appreciate value that goes beyond on-field performance: the team signed living legend Derek Jeter to a deal that the team felt was an overpay at the time, and included terms in Alex Rodriguez's huge contract that set the team up to profit from A-Rod's pursuit of home run milestones. Cano, meanwhile, appears to be angling to elevate his star power beyond the game of baseball, potentially making him that much more valuable as a prospective new franchise face.
Anibal Sanchez recorded a club-record 17 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in the Tigers' 10-0 win over the Braves tonight, yet Sanchez might not have had the best pitching performance of the evening. That honor goes to Jordan Zimmermann, who held the Reds to just one hit in a complete game, 91-pitch shutout. It was the Nationals' second straight one-hitter against the Reds, who hadn't been held to one hit or less in consecutive games since the 1900 season.
Here's the latest from around baseball as we head into the weekend...
- The Yankees and Robinson Cano "would appear to very badly want to reach a deal," CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Despite this mutual interest between the two sides, there is apparently a large gap in salary demands --- the Yankees were looking at David Wright's eight-year/$138MM extension with the Mets as a comparable while Heyman thinks Cano's agents at CAA may aim as high as Alex Rodriguez's 10-year/$275MM deal. There is no earthly way the Yankees would hand Cano (or probably anyone) another A-Rod contract but I agree with Heyman's citations of Joey Votto and Prince Fielder's recent contracts as good comparables for a Cano extension. $200MM is the bare minimum for Cano's next deal, whether it's with the Yankees or another team.
- The Phillies' attendance is down thus far in 2013, and less ticket revenue could mean less payroll space for the club this offseason, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
- The Royals' rotation problems had become too great to ignore last winter, thus prompting GM Dayton Moore to make significant moves that now have his team looking like early contenders, ESPN's Jim Bowden writes (Insider subscription required). "Moore’s original vision might have taken a little longer, but with starting pitching finally in hand, he also might have just bought himself a lot more time," Bowden said, noting that Moore's contract with the Royals is up after the 2014 season.
Robinson Cano's new agents have yet to begin negotiations with the Yankees about a contract extension, Cano told ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. Cano recently made headlines when he switched his representation from Scott Boras to CAA and Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, with CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen handling the negotiations over Cano's next contract.
As a matter of club policy, the Yankees usually wait until after the season to discuss contract extensions, even with such franchise icons as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in recent years. Cano is a different case, however, given that he is entering free agency in the prime of his career. Even though the Yankees may or may not be sticking to their plan of keeping their 2014 payroll under the $189MM mark, re-signing Cano has always been a top priority for the team. GM Brian Cashman confirmed that the club made "a significant offer" to Cano in February when he still represented by Boras.
Cano is far and away the top pending free agent available on the market, as per Tim Dierkes' 2014 free agent power rankings. Though he turns 31 in October, Cano will command a contract in the range of $200MM this winter. At that kind of money, Cano's market will be limited to only the biggest-spending clubs and naturally the Dodgers have already been mentioned as likely suitors for his services.
A pair of top prospects made their big league debuts yesterday, as Allen Webster started the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox and Anthony Rendon made his debut at third base for the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Here's more on each, as well as some other news from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicles Jason Grilli's ascension from the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate to Pirates closer. In 2011, the Phils called up six relievers instead of Grilli, despite his dominant numbers. Grilli had a clause in his contract stating that if another MLB team wanted him on their 25-man roster, the Phillies had to either call him up or release him. Pittsburgh scouts took notice of Grilli, called the Phillies, and Philadelphia elected to release him so he could sign with the Buccos.
- Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano's foundation, appeared in the latest round of Biogenesis documents, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN. Cruz's name was only connected to a pair of $300 payments, which she said were for her own weight loss interests. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that MLB sources told him there was no link between Cano and Biogenesis. When he heard about the latest report, a surprised Cano told reporters, including Feinsand, "It's got nothing to do with me."
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal examines the number of starting pitchers needed by the Red Sox in each season over the past decade and notes that the evidence suggests Webster will be back this season. MacPherson also adds that preliminary research indicates this is the earliest the Red Sox have ever turned to seven different starting pitchers in any season.
- The timing of Rendon's call-up suggests that the Nationals may be more willing to let him remain with the club all season than they've let on, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore points out that Rendon has spent 20 days in the minor leagues, meaning his free agency has been delayed by a full year now.
- Jake Arrieta is at a crossroads with the Orioles, in the mind of the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly. At 27 years of age, Arrieta has passed the "prospect" stage but has yet to find the consistency to convert his above-average repertoire of pitches into consistent success. Connolly notes that it's not wise to trade someone with Arrieta's talent while his value is so low, but moving him to the bullpen hardly maximizes his value.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Jay-Z's cerficiation process won't be complete anytime soon (Twitter link). As expected, CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will handle Robinson Cano's extension talks.
MLBTR would like to take a moment to send our deepest condolences out to the victims of the Boston explosions today. If you're in the Boston area and would like to help by donating blood, Mass General Hospital in Boston is accepting walk-ins beginning at 7am tomorrow morning. With apologies for how trivial the following will seem, here's some baseball-related news out of Boston and the rest of the AL East...
- Jackie Bradley Jr. is mired in an 0-for-20 slump, but the Red Sox were prepared for the possibility of such struggles when they decided to bring the 22-year-old north with the team, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Manager John Farrell said Bradley has dealt with the adversity as well as the team could have expected.
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that he's talking with other teams about an upgrade to his middle infield but doesn't anticipate a deal in the near future due to rival GMs' asking prices (Twitter link).
- Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports company will not work with any sports talent agencies other than CAA Sports, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (on Twitter). The agency will hire established agents in multiple sports as well as have its own employees (link). Jay-Z entered the world of sports representation in a big way in recent weeks, taking Robinson Cano away from Scott Boras.
A year ago today, MLBTR asked its readers to weigh in on whether Cole Hamels would reach an extension with the Phillies. The result was a virtual deadlock, with 50.85% of voters saying that Hamels would not re-up with the Phils, and would instead enter free agency as perhaps the top player available. It took a while, but Hamels ultimately did reach a massive extension with Philadephia.
Now, we want your opinion on this year's biggest would-be free agent. The game's best second baseman, 30-year-old Robinson Cano, was an easy choice for MLBTR's Tim Dierkes at the top of the 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. Cano promises to hit the market as a franchise player in his prime, unless the Yankees extend him first.
The Yankees are obviously interested in doing just that, and indeed reportedly made Cano a "significant offer" earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, of course, we learned that Cano had fired agent Scott Boras in favor of CAA and Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports. While there are a range of opinions on the meaning of the switch, some interpret it as a clear sign that Cano intends to stay in pinstripes.
On the other hand, the Yankees are reportedly determined to get the team's 2014 salary under the $189MM luxury tax threshold. With Cano's relative youth, consistent excellence, and outstanding record of durability portending a long deal at a high average annual value, it could be a challenge for the Yanks to structure an extension with Cano that allows the team to meet its salary goal.
Robinson Cano found an agent who is perhaps more powerful than Scott Boras, dropping Boras for Jay-Z this week. While it was previously suggested CAA Baseball's Brodie Van Wagenen would handle all of the contract negotiations, Jay-Z will be "intimately involved," Van Wagenen tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman feels that Cano, next offseason's top free agent, has "at least tipped his hand that he wants to stay in the Bronx."
Boras, who never brokered a contract for Cano during their time together, flew to New York Tuesday to try to meet with his former client, writes Heyman. Notes Heyman, "As of late Wednesday morning, he had not heard a word back from Cano, who is notoriously non-confrontational." Perhaps players just aren't keen on making the breakup call to Boras. Former Boras advisee Jay Bruce admitted to me in February that his mom made that call with his contact at the agency, though it was certainly a different situation since Bruce was a teenager and did not have a relationship with Boras himself. Cano did not want to address his avoidance of his former agent, responding to the question with, "No answer on that one, how's that?" according to David Lennon of Newsday.
Cano's teammate Mark Teixeira, also a former Boras client, explained to reporters why some players might prefer other representation. He told reporters, including Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, "Everyone knows Scott likes to control everything. He has a financial-services part of his business, he has a sports-performance training side of his business, he has a mental-performance side of his business. He has everything that you could possibly do; he takes care of for you if you choose. It doesn’t necessarily benefit every player. Some guys need that, some guys want that. But the guys that want to take control of their lives and make their own decisions, it’s not ideal for."
Does Jay-Z have a conflict of interest, given his longstanding association with the Yankees? Certainly Boras doesn't sport a Yankees cap in public. Publicist Ron Berkowitz told Heyman, "Jay-Z's a New York guy, but he's going to represent his guys, and it's going to be about where the player wants to go."
Robinson Cano's decision to fire Scott Boras yesterday in favor of Jay-Z's newest venture -- Roc Nation Sports -- caused quite the stir in the media. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote that Boras was "blindsided" by Cano's decision. Here's more on the situation...
- Rosenthal corrects his earlier statement that Boras will receive commission on Cano's $15MM salary in 2013 by noting that Cano's former agent Bobby Barad will receive that commission (Twitterlinks).
- Jay-Z is still waiting to be formally certified as an agent, writes Rosenthal. The rapper is one of three representatives from his company, Roc Nation, to receive temporary limited certification. Meanwhile, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA is the only person currently certified to represent Cano.
- Boras was caught off-guard by Cano's decision to change representation, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. “Robinson is a fine guy. Obviously between the 20th of March and the start of the season, he received a lot of information. Obviously a lot of promises. A lot of things came his way. I don’t know specifically what they are. But this happened very, very quickly," said the agent.
- While this is indisputably a big blow for Boras, he can argue that it's a different situation because of Jay-Z and he wasn't dumped for another baseball agent, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.