Robinson Cano Rumors
The Mariners have emerged as a major player in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, several sources told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. With the Yankees not wanting to go to seven years or as much as $200MM, an industry source with knowledge of the negotiations termed the Yankees chances of retaining Cano at "less than 50-50."
That source said that the chances of the five-time All-Star second baseman staying in the Bronx "don't look too good right now." For what it's worth, Mariners GM Jack Zduiencik wouldn't confirm to ESPNNewYork's Andrew Marchand that he has met with Cano. Sources familiar with the negotiations between the Bombers and Cano say that the Yankees believe Seattle is willing to give him an eight-year, $200MM deal.
The Yankees reportedly came to Cano with a seven-year, $160MM offer. An insider said the club might be willing to increase their offer, but not by a ton. New York could go to $175MM over seven years, good for an average salary of $25MM. According to a source who was briefed on their last meeting, the Yankees have rejected the idea of any deal longer than seven years for Cano based on their own history of bad deals, including Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM pact, and the deals given to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Ryan Howard. Meanwhile, Cano's side painted him as not only "the best player on the board,'' but also as the best player in baseball and someone who is "indispensable'' to the Yankees, the source said.
One baseball insider said that it now comes down to whether Cano wants to be a Yankee or wants to get paid. The Yankees believe they got that answer when Cano's party allegedly asked for a ten-year, $310MM deal from the club during the season. Cano has since denied making such a request.
The Yankees will not offer star free agent second baseman Robinson Cano a deal for over $200MM, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. With a current offer of seven years and $160MM already on the table, the club plans to stand on that figure and does not foresee wiggle room of greater than about $15MM, says Passan.
As Passan goes on to explain, the major question hanging over negotiations is whether any other clubs will jump in at or above the current Yankee offer. He mentions the Nationals and Mariners as the two teams most likely to jump in as serious bidders for Cano.
New York could be exerting pressure on Cano by beginning its spending and pursuing other free agents like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Ultimately, says Passan, "unless something drastic happens" the club will not sign Cano for anything approaching his current demands.
11:00pm: Cano asked for a nine-year deal at $28MM per year, reports ESPN's Buster Olney, a $252MM total that would match Alex Rodriguez's first free agent contract. He also wants a tenth year vesting option at $29MM. Olney says the Yankees are in the $170MM range, leaving a gap of around $80MM.
8:18pm: Robinson Cano requested a nine-year deal in the $250-$260MM range in his most recent offer to the Yankees, a source tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The offer came in a meeting last week.
The Yankees have reportedly offered Cano a deal in the range of seven years and $168MM, which Davidoff notes would still make the second baseman among the highest-paid players in baseball. In addition, a second source says the much-discussed 10-year, $310MM offer floated by Cano's camp hasn't been in play since Cano became a free agent. Nevertheless, the two sides presently appear to be approximately $100MM apart. The Yankees are scheduled to meet again with Cano, who is represented by Jay-Z and CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen, on Monday.
Davidoff writes that the Yankees maintain they won't wait for Cano as they hold discussions with free agents such as Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew. The team also remains interested in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. If the Yankees hit their budget limit without signing Cano, club officials say, they'll either move on or force Cano to agree to a much smaller deal than what's now under discussion.
Other potential destinations include the Tigers, the Mariners, the Rangers and the Nationals, and the Mets have met with Cano's representatives, Davidoff writes. However, he adds that no teams have publicly indicated significant interest in the infielder.
Robinson Cano denied asking the Yankees for a $300MM deal back in the summer, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but just because Cano didn't utter the words himself does not mean that his representatives did not float that number. That was just the "midseason request," however, Martino explains. Now that the star second baseman has reached the open market, his camp has re-set its asking price and is scheduled to meet with the Bronx brass again on Monday. Here's more from the American League East:
- The Orioles are quietly waiting for the free agent starting pitching market to fall into place, writes Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. We've heard before that the club is quite interested in returning Scott Feldman, who was acquired in mid-year from the Cubs, and Encina guesses he'll take two years and $16-18MM to land. In his detailed breakdown of Feldman, MLBTR's Steve Adams projected his value at two years and $17MM, plus a vesting option. Other arms that might draw attention from Baltimore, according to Encina, are Bronson Arroyo and even A.J. Burnett, if he decides to look around the market.
- Shortstop Stephen Drew is still a great fit for a Red Sox infield that currently features Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks on the left side, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. If Drew can't get a club to give up a pick to sign him to a multi-year deal, Boston could swoop back into the mix and try to land him on another one-year contract, perhaps with an implicit promise not to extend another qualifying offer, Tomase suggests.
What better to go with your Thanksgiving apple crisp than some baseball news from the Big Apple? Here's the latest from the Mets and Yankees...
- Citi Field's reputation as a pitchers' park has generated concerns amongst some of the Mets' free agent targets, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Though Citi Field's fences were brought in before the 2012 season, the club's pitcher-friendly history is “something that is still in the (players’) heads out there, that it’s a tough park to hit in,” one agent said. "They see what David Wright went through there and it makes them a little nervous I think." As Ackert notes, Citi Field allowed an average of 1.2 home runs per game in 2013, the tenth-most of any stadium in the majors.
- The Mets have an interest in signing right-hander Armando Galarraga and southpaw Victor Garate, Rafael Tejera reports (via Twitter). Both pitchers have also been offered contracts by teams in Asia. As ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes, the Mets would "undoubtedly" only be interested in the two hurlers on minor league deals.
- The Yankees were set on Brian McCann as their top catching target and had only passing interest in Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. The Bombers made no "serious overtures" to Ruiz and had slightly more substantive talks with Saltalamacchia, though one industry source described Salty only as the Yankees' "Plan B" if McCann signed elsewhere.
- "There’s no imaginable, alternate usage of the Yankees’ resources that will give them a roster superior to one featuring [Robinson] Cano," Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Cano will "get paid" by someone, however, as all elite free agents do, and Davidoff expects the Yankees to pay at least $200MM to retain the second baseman. If another team goes substantially beyond a projected eight-year/$200MM offer, then Davidoff says the Yankees "would have an intellectual right" to let Cano leave.
- Earlier today, we learned that Yankees free agent hurler Phil Hughes should be able to find a multiyear on the open market, which puts the Mets out of the running for the right-hander's services.
It's offically Thanksgiving day on the east coast, so let's take a look at a few notes from the eastern seaboard:
- The stage is set for the market to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, even if it isn't celebrated in the same time or manner by our neighbors to the north. While things have been relatively quiet for many clubs, including the Blue Jays, that could change with Monday's non-tender deadline and movement in top-of-the-market situations around the league (including the Japanese posting system and its implications for Masahiro Tanaka, increasing activity on the Robinson Cano front, and the Yankees' apparent decision to begin spending).
- Could a problem with Red Sox free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia's medicals be the cause of a seemingly slow market for the backstop's services? In an appearance on WEEI's Mut & Merloni (writeup via WEEI.com), ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that possibility, while acknowledging that he has no specific knowledge of Salty's file. But Jim Munsey, the 28-year-old backstop's agent, flatly denied that speculation in comments to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, saying "there are no medical issues hindering [Saltalamacchia's] market."
- Interestingly, Munsey did note that the Cubs -- the team that Olney mentioned by name with respect to Saltalamacchia -- had decided not to pursue the backstop in part because they "don't believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty's market." More generally, he expressed that things were going just fine for his client: "Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you're not hearing it doesn't mean it's not happening."
- Another player who has yet to see a full slate of bidders, according to Olney, is another Boston free agent: shortstop Stephen Drew. Olney says that he believes Drew's decision to reject the club's $14.1MM qualifying offer was a mistake. He reasons that it is looking worse by the day, with the Cardinals now out of the market and the Mets seemingly hesitant to give up a pick to sign him at that level of value.
- As for the aforementioned Cano, Olney says (in an Insider piece) that the big question facing the star second baseman and the Yankees is what other teams might get seriously involved. While there is no obvious alternative suitor at this point, Olney's trip around the league leaves him with a list of the teams that are most likely to have the financial and roster flexibility to make a real run.
- Atop Olney's list of theoretically viable Cano landing spots, along with the Tigers and Rangers, is the Nationals. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore recently laid out the case for the club to chase Cano. While he says the club lacks a pressing need to tinker with its infield, and GM Mike Rizzo has not shown a particular desire to do so, the fact remains that Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market and the Nats have the pockets to bring him in. Though Anthony Rendon has plenty of upside and cheap team control, he is young enough to serve in a reserve capacity or could be cashed in with a corresponding win-now move.
- Meanwhile, the recent signings of Javier Lopez and Manny Parra have taken away two major possible left-handed relief targets from the Nats, Kilgore writes. Other targets certainly remain, with Kilgore saying the team is continuing to talk with Boone Logan and noting others like J.P. Howell, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton, and Michael Gonzalez. Of course, even after parting with Fernando Abad, the club could still rely on remaining internal options like Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno, and could move starters like Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis to the pen.
- From my perspective, it is worth noting Rizzo's recent history with southpaw relievers. Over the last three years, the club has received its greatest contributions from hurlers like Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Burnett, Zach Duke, and the previously noted Abad, Cedeno, and Krol. Each of these players was either picked up as a minor league free agent or in a relatively minor trade (or, for Krol, as the last piece of a somewhat significant trade). After letting Burnett walk for a seemingly reasonable price last year and declining to outbid the early market on Lopez and Parra, Rizzo may still prefer to avoid utilizing significant resources to add lefties.
WEDNESDAY: Feinsand reports that the two sides spoke again today, though they didn't have a face-to-face meeting this time. According to Feinsand, the $310MM asking price was still in place until yesterday, though Cano's camp lowered that number "very slightly." The two sides remain very far apart and will resume talks after Thanksgiving weekend (Twitter links).
TUESDAY: The Yankees met with Robinson Cano's camp earlier today, and the financial gap between the two sides is still "substantial," a source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
The most recent reports have indicated the Yankees' initial offer to be in the seven-year, $168MM range. There's no word on whether the Yankees have upped their offer recently, but team president Randy Levine has gone on record as saying the team will not wait for Cano to pursue other free agents. That point was made perfectly clear when the Yankees agreed to terms on a five-year, $85MM contract with Brian McCann that includes a vesting option for a sixth year at $15MM.
Cano's asking price is believed to be lower than the $300MM+ figure he was asking for to keep him off the free agent market, but it seems fair to speculate that he's likely still seeking a sum well north of $200MM.
For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece...
- Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
- The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
- The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
- The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
- Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.
Reports have indicated that Robinson Cano is willing to wait until January to get the deal that he's looking for, but don't expect the Yankees to exercise similar patience. Yankees president Randy Levine told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that the team is interested in five or six free agents and doesn't plan on waiting for resolution on the Cano front before making offers:
"We're not waiting around," Levine said. "If guys start to come off the board, we're going to sign them, which will affect the amount of money we have left for other players including [Cano]."
The Yankees have been connected to Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew recently, and Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger quotes Levine as saying that the team is engaged in talks with some of its own free agents as well. Presumably, that would include the likes of Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson.
McCullough points to an MLB Network Radio appearance by agent Brodie Van Wagenen over the weekend in which Van Wagenen pointed out the "additional business value that comes with an association with a player of that magnitude" and called Cano a "transformative" player. However, according to McCullough, the Yankees don't feel that Cano has the same level of marketability that stalwarts Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have brought to the table.
McCullough adds that the Yankees are also skeptical that much of a market exists for Cano at this time, given his asking price. Indeed, Cano's camp couldn't have been thrilled to lose a suitor when the Dodgers inked Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28MM contract. While some have speculated that they could still enter the fray, Yahoo's Tim Brown tweeted earlier today that the Dodgers are still not involved in the Cano market.
The Mets had a meeting with Van Wagenen and Jay-Z last night, but reports have indicated that they won't be serious players for his services. Asked by Feinsand if the Mets could sign Cano away from the Yankees, Levine replied: "Yes. For $300MM they can ... We want Robbie Cano back. We think the offer we made him is very competitive and it shows that we want him to be a Yankee for a long time and be the face of the franchise. But until they come down from the $300 million, there's really nothing to talk about."
10:04am: The Mets told Cano's camp prior to the meeting that the chances of a deal were very slim, but they didn't want to say "no" off the bat, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets took the meeting primarily as a means of getting to know a new agent, Jay-Z.
7:43am: The agents for free agent second baseman Robinson Cano called a meeting with the Mets to discuss the player's free agency Monday night at a Manhattan hotel, according to Ken Davidoff and Dan Martin of the New York Post. Jay Z, Brodie Van Wagenen, and Juan and Desiree Perez were on hand to represent Cano, while Jeff Wilpon, Sandy Alderson and John Ricco attended for the Mets.
The two sides did not talk numbers, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. According to Martino, the meeting contained a "Boras-like" presentation, in that it relied on multiple printed reports, visual elements and other tools.
Last week at the GM Meetings, Alderson told reporters the Mets are unlikely to be in the mix for an additional $100MM+ player, to avoid concentrating a large portion of the payroll in a small number of players. The Mets don't seem to have the payroll flexibility to add Cano, especially with their need for multiple outfielders, possibly a shortstop, and some relief help.
Regardless of the Mets' ability (or inability) to sign Cano, it makes sense for his camp to explore all options and meet with as many teams as possible. Cano is facing a limited market, so it's imperative that Van Wagenen and Jay-Z drum up some competitors for the Yankees, who are currently looking more in the $190-210MM price range.