Seattle Mariners Rumors
Robinson Cano's reported 10-year, $240MM deal with the Mariners is the most expensive and surprising transaction of the offseason thus far, and there has already been a great deal of reaction to Seattle's major signing. Here are some of the thoughts on how Cano's contract will impact several parties around baseball...
- Cano was the one player the Yankees were unwilling to break the bank on, despite spending freely to acquire Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Cano's Mariners contract, however, is "a Pyrrhic victory" for the second baseman, as he'll now go from a perennial contender to a club with a short postseason history.
- An NL official describes Cano's contract as "a lose-lose-lose deal" for Cano, the Mariners and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. "The contract is ridiculous and a desperate move from a desperate front office that seriously borders on moral hazard," the executive said.
- Despite calling the Cano deal "probably worse than you think," Jeff Sullivan of the USS Mariner blog is still excited by the signing as a transformative event for the Mariners. Even if the M's are going for it, however, Sullivan cautions that they should try to upgrade via signings and spending rather than trading their top prospects.
- Since the Mariners are already looking to make more moves, USA Today's Bob Nightengale (via Twitter) calls Cano "a $240MM recruitment tool" that proves Seattle is a serious player.
- "For everyone, respect trumped better judgment," Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan writes about the deal, arguing that Cano was turned off by the Yankees' contractual hardball when the team had already given Ellsbury a similar-sized contract. Passan also thinks the Mariners were desperate to regain some respect and stature within MLB, and while the contract will eventually be a burden for the M's, the team needs to do "everything possible to win the next five years" while Cano is still in his prime.
- Cano's representatives approached the Yankees earlier this week and lowered their demands to $235MM over the club's choice of eight, nine or 10 seasons, Joel Sherman reports. The Yankees countered with a seven-year, $175MM offer that they claimed was "their breaking point."
- Sherman chronicles the history of the Cano/Yankees negotiations and notes that the two sides never seemed particularly close to reaching an agreement. “This is a not a surprise to us,” a Yankees official told Sherman. “This is what the dialogue had been the whole time. There was never a warm, fuzzy we are getting close momentum. There was no traction. This is why we have been trying to cushion the blow with alternatives [Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, so far]."
- Writing for Grantland, Jonah Keri covers a number of topics about the signing, such as Cano's projected production over the next 10 seasons or how the signing is the best example yet of how MLB's national TV deal has been a windfall for mid-to-small market teams.
- Jay Z delivered a near-record contract to his first baseball client, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes, and it could help the rap mogul's Roc Nation Sports in attracting more big-name clients. That said, Crasnick notes that some in the industry believe that Jay Z was just a "figurehead" for a Cano management team that also included CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen. "If the only priority is to get paid, there's always a sucker -- and Seattle was the sucker," an agent tells Crasnick. "For everybody to say this is an A-plus for Jay Z, I just don't buy it. That would have been getting New York to pay $240MM. Getting Seattle to pay $240MM wasn't some masterstroke."
- Cano's departure will hurt the Yankees in the short term but it's "a victory for the organization," The New York Times' Tyler Kepner opines, since the team has learned to avoid handing out potential albatross contracts.
- The Mariners still need some other upgrades for 2014 and beyond, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron writes, making the Cano signing particularly risky since he isn't a final move to put the M's over the top as contenders. For Cameron, the signing reminds him of the Royals' acquisition of James Shields last offseason, an "all-in" kind of move that improved the Royals but didn't get them into the playoffs, leaving them just one more year of team control over Shields.
10:31pm: The contract doesn't contain an opt-out clause, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.
12:34pm: For what it's worth, the Mariners have released the following statement: “We are not able to confirm any news regarding Robinson Cano at this time. If and when an agreement is completed and finalized, we will announce.”
11:15am: Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Cano receives a full no-trade clause as part of his deal.
9:57am: The Mariners and Robinson Cano are in agreement on a 10-year, $240MM contract, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish link). The contract, negotiated by CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z of Roc Nation Sports, will tie Albert Pujols for the third-largest deal in Major League history. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) first reported that the two sides were nearing agreement.
Reports from earlier today indicated that talks between Cano and the Mariners had crumbled after Jay-Z suddenly upped his demands back to $252MM when the Mariners were prepared to offer $225MM over nine years. The two sides appear to have reached a middle ground, with Cano's camp dropping by $12MM or so and the Mariners agreeing to add a tenth season at $15MM. Seattle's first-round draft pick is protected, meaning that GM Jack Zduriencik will only have to forfeit his second-round pick in order to bring Cano to the Emerald City.
Cano, who turned 31 in October, batted .314/.383/.516 with 27 home runs in 2013 and has averaged a batting line of .314/.369/.530 and 28 home runs over the previous five seasons. Paired with plus defense at second base, Cano has been worth an average of 6.8 (Baseball-Reference) or 5.8 (Fangraphs) wins above replacement. He's also one of baseball's most durable players, having missed just 14 games over the past seven seasons.
By joining the Mariners, Cano likely displaces one of Brad Miller or Nick Franklin. Miller impressed by batting .265/.318/.418 with eight homers in 335 plate apperances and playing solid defense at shortstop as a 24-year-old rookie in 2013. Though Franklin entered the season with more prospect hype, he wilted down the stretch and finished with just a .225/.303/.382 batting line. The 22-year-old Franklin spent nearly all of his time at second base this season (he played just 20 innings at shortstop), so it would seem that he is more likely to be the one who is displaced by Seattle's blockbuster addition.
MLBTR's Jeff Todd recently examined the future payroll obligations of all 30 Major League teams -- a study that showed the Mariners to be one of the best-equipped teams to accommodate a mega-deal of this nature. The only other players that the Mariners have signed beyond the 2014 season are ace Felix Hernandez and utility man Willie Bloomquist, who is a free agent following a 2015 campaign in which he earns $3MM. Despite the historic nature of this deal, the M's still have an annual commitment of roughly $50MM in the 2016-19 seasons -- the years in which the Cano and Hernandez contracts overlap. That should leave some room for further long-term additions this winter.
For the Yankees, the departure of Cano leaves a gaping hole at second base. They've added a bit of insurance in the form of Kelly Johnson but will almost certainly require a further upgrade. Omar Infante is the top free agent option, but the trade market presents additional options. Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips are said to be available, and the somewhat ironic scenario of a Franklin-to-New York trade at least seems conceivable. Cano's enormous sum is just $2MM more than the combined $238MM that the Yankees paid to sign Brian McCann (five years, $85MM) and Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153MM). I noted the similarity in that $238MM spend and the rumored $240MM figure for Cano on Twitter yesterday, and Jeff Todd chimed, in noting that the Yankees have diversified their risk and committed fewer years for the same amount of money.
In my free agent profile for Cano, I projected a nine-year, $234MM contract. Cano, Jay-Z and Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports deserve tremendous praise for securing a contract that ties for the third-largest of all-time and topping most pundits' expectations. Cano's deal serves as a reminder that even when a top free agent appears to have few suitors, the market will typically materialize for that free agent eventually, leading to a larger contract than appears likely at the onset of the offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
1:01pm: A source tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that any trade for Price would have to include Walker (Twitter link).
11:47am: In the wake of Seattle's historic ten-year agreement with Robinson Cano, one Major League executive told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times that he is "convinced" the Mariners' next move will be to make a push for David Price (Twitter link). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners believe they have the prospects to land Price, and indeed, that would seem to be the case.
This is only my speculation, but Seattle could look to build a package around top prospect Taijuan Walker and the recently displaced Nick Franklin, who could be deemed expendable with Cano in the fold for the Mariners. The Rays, of course, will likely be open to moving Price this winter. He projects to earn $13.1MM in arbitration (per MLBTR's Matt Swartz) and is controlled through the 2015 campaign. It would make sense for the Mariners to aggressively pursue short-term upgrades in the early years of Cano's contract in order to maximize their chances while he is still in his prime.
Morosi also notes (on Twitter) that the Mariners are still in pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and other free agents. Morosi also reported earlier that the Mariners are one of the teams that is currently in on Mike Napoli, who reportedly has an offer in-hand from a club other than the Red Sox that Boston has yet to beat. It's not clear if that club is the Mariners, but their talks with Napoli are said to have been recent. An upgrade at first base, DH or in the outfield still seems likely for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and the addition of Cano could signal to potential free agents that the Mariners are serious about winning.
11:24am: Napoli's market is picking up, and the Mariners, Marlins, Rangers and Red Sox are all involved, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi adds that the Mariners have had "recent" talks with Napoli.
10:57am: Mike Napoli's free agent negotiations are at a critical stage, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says Napoli wants to remain with the Red Sox, but he has an offer from another club that Boston will need to match or exceed. Earlier, Rosenthal tweeted that the Rangers and Marlins are in on Napoli, who remains a priority for the Red Sox. The Rangers are interested even after acquiring Prince Fielder, which is seemingly made possible by the designated hitter spot.
Napoli was one of 13 players to receive a qualifying offer in November, so signing him will require forfeiture of a draft pick for teams other than the Red Sox. The 32-year-old switched to first base full-time in 2013 for Boston, hitting .259/.360/.482 in 578 plate appearances and playing in the postseason for the sixth time in eight seasons. Last offseason, Napoli's three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox was renegotiated down to a one-year, $5MM guarantee after his physical revealed a degenerative hip condition. With Curtis Granderson receiving four guaranteed years today from the Mets, I think Napoli has a good case for the same.
Cano's negotiations with the Mariners have turned into somewhat of a soap opera. Reports earlier this morning indicated that a last-minute hike in demands from agent Jay-Z enraged Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and caused talks to fall apart. Recently, reports surfaced that talks were still alive. The Yankees, reportedly, are unwilling to offer more than $200MM.
9:18am: Talks between the Mariners and Cano are still alive, according to Ken Rosenthal on FOX Sports (on Twitter).
7:43am: The Mariners talks with Robinson Cano have broken down after Seattle made an offer of nine years and $225MM, two sources told Mark Feinsand, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The Mariners are no longer in the mix to sign Cano, reports Feinsand.
According to the New York Daily News team, Cano and his representatives from CAA and Roc Nation Sports arrived in Seattle with an eight-year, $200MM offer in hand from the Mariners and eventually received assurances that the Mariners would go to nine years and $225MM. However, a late change by agent Jay-Z in which he once again demanded $252MM over 10 years caused Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln to "explode," prompting the meeting to end.
Seattle's offer of $225MM over nine years topped the Yankees' best offer by two years and $50MM, Feinsand notes. However, the Yankees appear to be Cano's lone serious suitor once again. The Yankees reportedly have never been willing to exceed the $200MM barrier for Cano.
Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners would be "dumb" for both player and team, argues FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Mariners need more than just one more player to become a contender, and "store-bought teams often prove to be disasters," as recent iterations of the Blue Jays and Marlins suggest. The Yankees, meanwhile, won't go past $170MM or so, even though they just agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury for $153MM. For Cano, signing with Seattle would be an "inexplicable money grab." It wouldn't make sense for Cano, the Mariners, or the Yankees if Cano went west. Speaking of which, here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Bronson Arroyo and Bartolo Colon currently aren't high priorities for the Angels, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman remain possibilities (Twitter links). Earlier this week, a report indicated that the Angels were interested in Arroyo.
- After dealing Dexter Fowler to the Astros and working out a two-year deal with first baseman Justin Morneau, the Rockies aren't through making moves, assistant GM Bill Geivett tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. "I think we are still in the marker for a starting pitcher, another bat, and as I’ve said before, our bullpen is not closed," says Geivett, who also says that history will not be remembered as a "salary dump."
- Pitcher Daniel Hudson is "optimistic" he'll re-sign with the Diamondbacks, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Arizona non-tendered him on Monday after he missed most of the last two seasons due to injury. "I don't really want to go anywhere else," Hudson says. "Obviously if something doesn't work out then we'll have to figure something else out, but as long as we're cordial and we're talking and everything, I really want to make sure I stay working out with those guys."
6:45pm: The Mariners are "about to offer" Cano a nine-year, $225MM deal, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Heyman indicates that Seattle is bidding $225MM to stay $50MM ahead of the Yankees, whose don't want to top $175MM.
5:15pm: Cano asked the Mariners for a ten-year, $240MM deal, but the Mariners' offer did not exceed $200MM, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.
3:21pm: Robinson Cano flew to Seattle to meet with the Mariners in person today, and the team has informed him that they are willing to pay as much as $230-240MM on a ten-year contract, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish link).
It was reported yesterday that the Mariners may have topped the Yankees' offer of roughly $170MM, but if true, the reported $230-240MM offer would shatter the Yankees' highest bid. The Mariners met with Cano's representatives on Tuesday, according to multiple reports, but this appears to be the first instance of Cano traveling to Seattle to meet with club officials.
Cano and agents Jay-Z of Roc Nation Sports and Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA are said to be seeking something in the neighborhood of $252MM. The Yankees reportedly will not offer Cano more than $200MM, and in the wake of that news, the offense-starved Mariners appear to have emerged as major players in the Cano sweepstakes. Last month, MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted that Cano would receive a nine-year, $234MM deal.
The Mariners have been connected to a number of the biggest names on the market this offseason, but their first move was a smaller signing that will give new manager Lloyd McClendon some additional versatility off the bench. Seattle officially announced a two-year signing of Willie Bloomquist on Thursday. His deal reportedly guarantees him a total of $5.8MM.
Bloomquist, a client of Scott Boras, batted .317/.360/.367 without a homer or stolen base in 139 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks in 2013. Bloomquist has spent the past three seasons in Arizona, batting a combined .289/.328/.368 with four homers -- all of which came back in 2011. The 36-year-old served as a Swiss army knife for manager Kirk Gibson, playing shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field in his time with the D-Backs.
This contract is a homecoming for Bloomquist in multiple ways. Bloomquist is a Washington native and also spent the first seven seasons of his big league career in Seattle after being selected by the M's in the third round of the 1999 draft.
The signing of Bloomquist figures to be a minor move in what should be a busy offseason for the Mariners. Seattle is reportedly seeking two impact bats, a starter and a closer. They've been linked to big fish like Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz thus far on the offensive side of things, while names like Grant Balfour and Brian Wilson have drawn the Mariners' interest in their search for a closer.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the two sides were close to a deal (on Twitter), and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was the first to report Bloomquist would earn $5-6MM (also via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the agreement and the $5.8MM guarantee (Twitter links).
Here's the latest from the American League West:
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the club is still looking for a durable backup catcher, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Though the recent spate of catcher moves took away some hypothetical options, Daniels said that "nobody has come off the board that we really pursued." Sullivan notes that Kurt Suzuki is one player in whom Texas has interest.
- In looking to add a backstop, the Rangers were close to adding J.P. Arencibia via trade before he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays, Sullivan reports. But the club did not want to add Arencibia unless it could work out terms on a new deal, and ultimately that did not happen. He joins Suzuki as possible free agent options for Texas.
- The Athletics' signing of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22MM deal kicked off a flurry of big moves for the A's. MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a summation of the considerations that brought him to Oakland, with Kazmir saying he loves the team and fan base and looks forward to throwing in the Coliseum. For GM Billy Beane, the club liked Kazmir's stuff, restored fastball velocity, overall body of work in 2013, and young age (29). Though Kazmir's up-and-down career trajectory might have scared off some clubs, Beane says that he views Kazmir's "character-building experience" of getting back to a high level of performance as a positive.
- Before Phil Hughes decided to take a three-year deal with the Twins, the Angels made him an offer of a "nice one-year deal," reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in discussing several of MLB's recent moves, baseball sources believe Hughes could have landed up to $9MM or $10MM on a one-year deal, though another source told Rosenthal that no offers of that magnitude had actually been made.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on whether or not the club is pursuing Robinson Cano, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, saying that the club is keeping its talks "in house" but has "a lot of dialogue going on a lot of fronts." Talking generally about offering long-term deals, Zduriencik indicated that the club prefers to minimize risk but must "adapt to the market." While saying he would "like to add three" bats to the club, the Mariners GM noted that the club would still also be interested in adding "another starting pitcher" or even another pen piece.
- Ultimately, Zduriencik confirmed the widespread view that Seattle is looking to add impact to its roster. "It was a clear goal of ours to get us to a point where we would have young and inexpensive players throughout the line-up and I think we've accomplished that goal," said Zduriencik. "I always felt there would be a time where [we] would have to augment this club. I think we are at that time."