Robinson Cano Rumors
Robinson Cano made headlines early in the regular season by leaving super-agent Scott Boras to become the first client to be represented by rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z's startup sports agency -- Roc Nation Sports. Jay-Z is partnering with CAA in the Roc Nation Sports effort, and CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will be handling much of the negotiation process this offseason, though Jay-Z himself is now officially an MLBPA-certified player representative as well. While his agency news may have gotten the headlines in April, now that we're into the offseason, it'll be his historic contract that garners attention.
Cano is one of the game's best all-around players, plain and simple. He led all free agent position players in wins above replacement (6.9 fWAR, 7.6 rWAR) due to his combination of offense and strong defensive contributions at a premium, up-the-middle position.
Cano batted .314/.383/.516 this season, earning his fourth consecutive All-Star bid and fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award. His fifth-place finish in the AL MVP voting marked his fifth consecutive season receiving votes for the award and fourth straight season of finishing sixth or better.
Cano's 142 wRC+ dating back to 2010 is the fourth-highest in Major League Baseball, and his 25.4 fWAR in that time trails only Miguel Cabrera. In terms of more traditional numbers, he's averaged 107 RBIs and 98 runs scored per season over that same time. He hits for power, averaging 28 homers per season since 2009, and has hit below .300 just twice in his Major League career (including a .297 effort in his rookie season).
Cano's defense slipped a bit in 2013, but his glove is generally regarded as a positive. UZR/150 pegged him for +1.3 runs above average this season, while The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric pegged him at +6. Those are solid numbers, but consider that he was at +10.7 (UZR/150) and +15 (DRS) in 2012. DRS, in particular, raves about Cano, crediting him for +38 runs dating back to 2010.
One of the biggest concerns over the course of a mega-contract like the one Cano figures to sign is health, but that hasn't been an issue for the Bronx Bombers' keystone man. Cano hasn't been on the disabled list since missing six weeks with a hamstring strain all the way back in 2006, and since that time he's averaged a whopping 160 games per season.
Cano is better against right-handed pitchers than lefties, but his .290/.340/.450 career line against southpaws shows that he's more than capable of handling his own against same-handed pitching. Those who think he's a product of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch need only look at his .862 career OPS on the road alongside his .858 mark at home to realize that Cano can hit anywhere.
Cano will play next season at age 31, making him just one year younger than Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton were when each signed their massive contracts that have all quickly become albatrosses. Cano figures to sign for much closer to the 10 years that Rodriguez and Pujols received than the five years that Hamilton received. His contract will be a colossal risk, and there's little hope that he'll still be playing anywhere close to his current level by the time it completes.
If there's one element of Cano's game that's lacking, it's probably his speed. He's never stolen more than eight bases in a season, has an ugly 57.6 percent success rate in his career and has added significant value on the basepaths just twice in his nine-year career. It's an underrated part of the game that many fans don't look at, but Fangraphs pegged Cano's baserunning at -2 runs this season. That only figures to get worse as he ages.
In 2013, Cano posted his lowest isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) since 2009. His mark of .202 is still excellent for any hitter, let alone a second baseman, but if it's a portent for the decline of his power as he exits his prime years, his value would take a hit going forward. The very fact that a .202 ISO is listed in the "Weaknesses/Cons" section of this post speaks to the elite level of Cano's game.
In one of the least-surprising decisions in recent history, the Yankees made a qualifying offer to Cano, and he promptly rejected it. He'd come at the cost of a draft pick for a new team.
Cano's father, Jose, was signed by the Yankees in 1980 and briefly pitched in the Majors with the Astros in 1989. Cano's parents named him Robinson after the legendary Jackie Robinson, and he wears No. 24 (Jackie's No. 42 flipped) to this day as a means of honoring that namesake. The Yankees' media guide has nearly a full page dedicated to Cano's philanthropic efforts both in New York and his native Dominican Republic. Cano and his parents established the RC24 Foundation in 2011 -- a charity intended to provide hope to sick and underprivileged children in New York and the Dominican Republic. He has also donated nine ambulances and four school buses to his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris. The ambulances were donated in memory of a close friend who died after he was unable to receive immediate medical attention following a motorcycle accident.
Cano was famously benched for a lack of hustle in 2008, but those problems are a thing of the past, hitting coach Kevin Long told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News earlier this year. Long praised Cano's work ethic and offseason training regimen to Feinsand, who also spoke with Cano's World Baseball Classic GM, Moises Alou: "Robby, what a guy. He’s a five, six-tool player. I mean, I knew he was good, but he made my job so easy, with his performance and leadership."
Cano's market could be more limited than any other free agent this season due to his contract demands. In early October, it was reported that Cano and Roc Nation were targeting $305-310MM in guaranteed money, in order to top the maximum value that A-Rod could reach were he to hit all of his incentives. Let me start by stating that I see zero chance of Cano signing the largest contract in history. Those comments were almost certainly a pure negotiation ploy; coming out and saying, "We want $200MM" would have started the discussion far too low.
So what teams could possibly afford Cano? A return to the Yankees still seems the most probable outcome, but in order to extract maximum dollars, Roc Nation/CAA will have to drum up some competition. The Dodgers were a natural landing spot, but they said prior to season's end that they weren't going to pursue Cano, and their four-year, $28MM contract with Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero seems indicative that they plan on sticking to that mentality.
Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has spent liberally in the past, proclaiming that he wants to see his team win a World Series in his lifetime. The Tigers have Omar Infante hitting free agency and have issued $200MM guarantees to Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander already. However, with Miguel Cabrera needing an extension in a few seasons, would they risk another annual salary north of $20MM?
The Nationals could be on the periphery, as could the Angels, though their days of dabbling in mega-contracts are likely over for the time being with Pujols and Hamilton on the books. Could the Mets shock the baseball world by using their newfound cash to force a jersey change but keep Cano in New York? They took one meeting with him already, but most media outlets have downplayed them as a serious suitor even in light of that news.
The Rangers are always aggressive spenders, but they already have a logjam of middle infielders with Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar. Still, a trade of Andrus or Profar plus a move to first base or left field for Kinsler to open second base is at least conceivable. Could Jack Zduriencik be so desperate to bring some offense to Seattle that he breaks the $200MM threshold for Cano? The Cubs have the deep pockets and no clear solution at second base, but they've stated that they're not planning on pursuing big fish this winter. The Blue Jays have a need at second base and are clearly in win-now mode. Another big offseason splash would likely rejuvenate their fanbase after a disappointing 2013, but signing Cano would be counterintuitive to GM Alex Anthopoulos' free agent philosophy.
In addition to other free agents, teams in need of help at second base could look to acquire Brandon Phillips as an alternative. Phillips appears to have fallen out of favor in Cincinnati, and while the four years and $50MM remaining on his contract are sizable, that seems like a pittance in comparison to Cano's eventual contract.
There's little doubt that Cano will sign the richest contract of the offseason, and it seems likely that his representation will set out seeking 10 years. If Cano's price tag were to drop to seven years, I imagine that numerous suitors would emerge. More realistically, the middle ground between teams' comfort levels and Van Wagenen/Jay-Z's demands will probably be met in the form of eight or nine years.
Cano finds himself in a similar situation to that of Prince Fielder heading into the 2012 season -- everyone expects a historic contract, but there appears to be a lack of logical suitors. Ultimately, the market came to Fielder and Scott Boras, and Fielder was able to land a nine-year, $214MM contract.
I expect Fielder's contract to be the floor for the Cano camp. Cano figures to shatter the records for longest contract, largest guarantee and largest average annual value for a second baseman. How much will he sign for though? Dating back to 2007, the mean AAV for hitter contracts of at least eight years is $24.44MM. That grouping includes a select quartet of then-elite bats: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Fielder and Mark Teixeira.
That mean AAV would come out to an even $220MM over the course of a nine-year contract or $244.4MM over the course of 10 years. It makes sense to try to top that AAV, and I believe they'll do just that, though not over the course of a 10-year deal. However, a nine-year, $234MM contract would give Cano's camp a nice round number ($26MM annually) and blow Fielder's contract out of the water. It would also top the mean AAV for baseball's most recent mega-deals and establish the second-highest AAV of any such deal as well. As such, that's my prediction for Cano's eventual contract, even if the market has yet to seriously take shape.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Jay Z may claim that he "made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can," but the rap icon's high profile won't play any part in what the Yankees offer his Roc Nation Sports client Robinson Cano, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports. “The New York Yankees value Robinson as a great baseball player and appreciate his value on the field. But any value that’s added with Jay Z isn’t added to the equation,” a source tells Martin. Here's the latest news from the Bronx...
- Cano's original 10-year, $310MM demands haven't changed, ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand reports. Cano and his representatives are supposed to meet this week, with Marchand saying that the Yankees are looking for a deal in the $190-$210MM range for the star second baseman. Earlier reports suggested that Cano's demands had changed, and I would imagine his number will lower simply because no other team could (or would) come close to that $300MM mark.
- Also from Marchand, he hears from a source that the MLB/NPB dispute over the posting system will be settled and Masahiro Tanaka will be posted before the end of December.
- Alex Rodriguez's drawn-out suspension appeal and the possibility that his salary could come off the Yankees' books for 2014 will likely delay the free agent market. "A-Rod could slow everything down," a baseball official told Marchard. "Players always want the Yankees involved and the threat of them having extra money is leverage they probably will want to use."
- The Yankees, meanwhile, are hoping to get Rodriguez's situation resolved as soon as possible. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post outlines the latest in the A-Rod appeal hearings, which resumed today.
- The Yankees are interested in bringing back Raul Ibanez to serve as the designated hitter against righty pitchers, according to George A. King III and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Ibanez played for the Yankees in 2012 and "grew impatient waiting" for a contract offer last winter, eventually signing with the Mariners. Some in the Yankee organization believe it was a mistake letting Ibanez leave, particularly since he enjoyed a 29-homer season in Seattle.
- Jhonny Peralta has been rumored to be a Yankee target but signing him could be difficult given the uncertainty with A-Rod and Derek Jeter's continuing presence at shortstop, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. “They’re going to have trouble getting a legit shortstop to go there until it’s over with Jeter,” a player agent tells Martino. The Bronx Bombers reached an agreement with Brendan Ryan earlier today, but Ryan projects as a backup while Peralta can find a clear starting job elsewhere.
- Also from Martino, the Yankees' interest in Peralta is bad news for the Mets, as it remains to be seen if they can afford a bidding war for Peralta's services with the Yankees or any other free-spending team.
- Carlos Ruiz could have been of interest to the Yankees, but with the Phillies catcher now off of the market, they've set their sights higher and are zeroing in on Brian McCann, Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger writes. “He’s made for New York,” one rival executive said of McCann. “This guy is as mentally tough as it gets.”
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post
In yesterday's Insider-only column, ESPN's Buster Olney broke down the budget problems facing the Orioles this offseason. The team has interest in signing Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, but both are Scott Boras clients and each is just two years removed from free agency. According to Olney, the O's tried to strike up extension talks for Wieters in Spring Training 2013 and were met with a counter-offer in the range of Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the price for a Wieters extension is likely down, but that contractual demand shows that the two sides "are speaking a different languague in negotiations," as Olney puts it. More from Olney and the rest of the AL East below...
- Rival executives feel that Jim Johnson represents "the most painless cut" the Orioles could make in order to ease their payroll constrictions, Olney wrote. I agree that for a team with a tight payroll, Johnson's $10.8MM projected salary is too steep a price to pay despite his strong ground-ball and ERA numbers.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski weighs in on Johnson in response to Olney's piece, writing that the decision to non-tender Johnson "would be a bombshell" that he simply cannot picture. Melewski points out that in addition to being one of the team's best arms, Johnson is a leader in the clubhouse and has the complete trust of manager Buck Showalter.
- Even after reaching an agreement to bring Brendan Ryan back into the fold in 2014, the Yankees are still pursuing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted within his report on the Ryan signing. The fit seems a curious one at this point, as the Yankees seem to have bigger needs in the rotation and have already committed $12MM to Derek Jeter.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees are expected to meet with Robinson Cano's camp this week. McCullough's piece also includes the highlights from a recent Brodie Van Wagenen appearance on MLB Network Radio. Van Wagenen, the CAA agent who is partnering with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, said that Jay-Z will be "intimately involved in all areas" of Cano's contract negotiations.
- The Red Sox are likely to dismiss any trade proposals offered to acquire Daniel Nava this offseason, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. As Bradford writes, Nava's ability to play either corner outfield position or even first base gives GM Ben Cherington and his staff the flexibility to cast a wide net of free agent targets. Shane Victorino could play center field with Nava taking one corner outfield spot and Carlos Beltran occupying the other, and he also keeps them from having to get into a bidding war to retain Mike Napoli, Bradford points out in a pair of hypothetical scenarios.
The Red Sox have options besides re-signing free agent Mike Napoli, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Boston would like to retain him, but he is drawing interest from other clubs and some execs feel that the Rangers and Rockies will be particularly spirited in their pursuits. However, if Napoli goes elsewhere, the BoSox will net a compensatory draft pick and there are options out there on the open market. Olney wonders if they might go for someone like Michael Young, Mark Reynolds (.881 career OPS in Fenway Park), or Corey Hart, who will be in line for a one-year deal after missing all of 2013. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is prepared to wait things out in order to get the deal he wants, a person close to Cano tells John Harper of the New York Daily News. “He’s ready for this to go past Christmas, into January if necessary,” the person said. “He’s been told all along that it could take time for a market to develop for him, and he’s fine with that.”
- There are no talks of a long-term deal yet between the Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts, but things could change with an impressive 2014 campaign, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if the Orioles' week of talks at the GM Meetings will lead to anything happening. The O's have limitations, but Dubroff says that they'll go out and get a piece or two if it takes them to the next level.
Here's the latest from the Bronx...
- The Yankees are interested in Kendrys Morales, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Despite Morales' history of leg injuries, Yankees scouts feel the switch-hitter could add first base depth behing Mark Teixeira in addition to taking regular DH at-bats. I'm not sure Morales is a good fit given that the Yankees need to keep their DH spot relatively open for their other veterans on the roster. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a two-year, $28MM deal for Morales, and given the draft pick compensation tied to him, I'd guess the Yankees would only make a move if they're unable to land other free targets.
- Negotiations with Robinson Cano are expected to begin soon, Hal Steinbrenner told reporters (including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger) during the GM Meetings. “I’m sure in the next week we’re going to sit down and talk to him. We haven’t really had any communication on any specifics, yet. But it’s the beginning of the process," Steinbrenner said.
- Steinbrenner didn't discuss anything beyond the 2014 season with Derek Jeter during the shortstop's recent contract talks. "I don’t know that Derek has thought that far. He’s got a lot of thinking to do just getting to March. You know what I mean? And I think that’s his focus for right now," the managing general partner said. We heard earlier this week that Steinbrenner himself who negotiated Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014.
- Also during the talk, Steinbrenner discussed such topics as the Alex Rodriguez situation and the Yankees' recent struggles in player development.
- The Yankees don't have have many prime trade chips, but Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog puts Ivan Nova as the best chip on the team's roster. It seems unlikely that New York would consider trading Nova, however, as the Yankees need both starters and relatively inexpensive players under team control.
People in baseball are trying to figure out the team that has not been named yet that could surprise everyone and come away with top free agent Robinson Cano. Some have theorized that the Marlins could be that team to shock everyone, but new Miami GM Dan Jennings threw cold water on that idea when asked by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “It probably doesn’t fit,” said Jennings, who reportedly offered big bucks to Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. “We have to know our market and our payroll and our history. And our history is to build around young players and add pieces when it has become very clear that we are ready to win.”
- The Phillies remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help after signing Marlon Byrd earlier today, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed. Meanwhile, they might not be quite done in the outfield and they still have their eye on Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
- A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the Mets are showing interest in free agent outfielder Chris Young.
- No surprise here, but Jennings also shot down the notion that the Marlins will trade Giancarlo Stanton. That certainly won't stop other clubs from trying, however.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Post, that the club likely won't be signing anyone to a $100MM contract. Alderson said that while the Mets broke the $100MM barrier for star third baseman David Wright, he says that those were special circumstances.
- The Mets are known to have interest in Curtis Granderson, but he could very well wind up outside of their price range, writes David Lennon of Newsday. It's possible that a $50MM deal will be too rich for the Mets' blood and a $60MM asking price isn't out of the question.
- The Nationals will likely need to add a more experienced backup catcher this offseason, someone who can step in full-time if Wilson Ramos gets injured again, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched...or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball...
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs. Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year. It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
- Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees. All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers. Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
- Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter. Where will he land? The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
- Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals. Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
- When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza. Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid. One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term. "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
- When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
- Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson. Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner. "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."
By all accounts, it looks like the Yankees will be big players in free agency this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. The Yankees may have at least a dozen players in mind, and Heyman adds the names of Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to the long list of free agents who have already been linked to the Bombers. One would suspect that Feldman and Arroyo would be backup plans should New York not be able to land a higher-profile starter like Masahiro Tanaka. Here's the latest out of the Bronx...
- The Yankees "obviously" want Curtis Granderson to reject the team's $14.1MM qualifying offer so they can pursue other free agent outfield options. While Granderson says he's still considering accepting the one-year deal, he seems likely to find a solid multiyear offer on the open market, his injury-shortened 2013 season notwithstanding.
- Hal Steinbrenner was the one who negotiated Derek Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014, Heyman reports. Steinbrenner is "very involved" in the team's dealings this winter, according to a source.
- The Yankees have discussed bringing back Eric Chavez, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports. Chavez would provide needed bench depth, and he wouldn't require a big commitment since he only wants a one-year contract. There does seem to be mutual interest between Chavez and the Diamondbacks for 2014, however.
- Joba Chamberlain hasn't received any attention from the Yankees but over a dozen other clubs have checked in on the free agent reliever, WFAN's Sweeney Murti reports (Twitter link). It has been widely reported that the Yankees will part ways with their former top prospect.
- The 10-year contracts given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols when both men were in their 30's are reasons why the Yankees shouldn't make a decade-long commitment to 31-year-old Robinson Cano, MLB.com's Mike Bauman opines.
Baseball's best rivalry ... Dodgers-Giants? Yanks-Sox? Or, perhaps, Scott Boras-Jay-Z. As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes in a fascinating piece, the rapper-turned-mogul's challenge to baseball's old school super agent is a real one, but the success of the gambit could turn on whether or not Jay-Z lands Robinson Cano a contract that befits his status as the game's premier free agent. Here's more on Cano and the Yanks:
- There has been no recent movement in negotiations between the Yankees' front office and Cano's representatives, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post (hat tip to Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues). Martin also explains that Cano has yet to get a read on what other teams might be willing to pay.
- Indeed, Cano has acknowledged that no other clubs have made an offer, according to Christian Red of the New York Daily News. Of course, that is far from surprising at this early stage.
- Meanwhile, the Alex Rodriguez grievance proceedings remain a constraint on the club, according to manager Joe Girardi. As the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald), Girardi said that the club needs to know as soon as possible whether it needs to acquire a full-time third baseman for next season.
- The skipper also declined to annoint David Robertson as the team's closer, saying "we've got to see what we can put together as a team as a whole before we do anything." The back of the bullpen may not be the Bombers' biggest area of need, but there are a lot of guys with closing experience hoping that it is on the radar.
- If the Yanks lose Hiroki Kuroda and/or fail to land Masahiro Tanaka, power pitchers could make up the backup plan, the New York Post's Joel Sherman wrote yesterday. Sherman notes Josh Johnson and Dan Haren as possibilities, while his Post colleague George A. King III says that the club could be in on Ubaldo Jimenez.