Second baseman Robinson Cano, far and away the top free agent in this year’s class, flew to Seattle yesterday and reportedly received a nine-year, $225 million deal from the Mariners, according to CBSSports.com.
Anyone still want Cano coming to D.C. if it’s at that price?
The Mariners’ offer is one that tops the Yankees’ largest projected proposal to Cano by two years and $50 million, leaving Seattle with what’s believed to be the top offer on the table by a wide margin.
As of right now, it appears that it’s just the Mariners and Yankees who are heavily involved in the bidding on Cano, the five-time All-Star who has a career .309/.355/.504 slash line and has averaged 28 home runs and 103 RBIs over the last five seasons.
Cano has appeared in at least 159 games every year since 2007, and has been a steady offensive performer in the middle of the Yankees’ order. He’s also won two Gold Gloves and turned 31 in October, leaving him with what appear to be at least a few more years remaining in his prime.
The Nationals have been mentioned as a team that could potentially get involved in the Cano sweepstakes, a team that could sneak in quietly and make a big play for the Dominican second baseman if general manager Mike Rizzo and the Lerner family are looking to put all their chips in the middle of the table and try and fully capitalize on this proverbial window to win a World Series or two with this current crop of players.
All four of the Nats’ set starting pitchers for next season - Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister - are under contract through at least 2015. So are Ian Desmond and Tyler Clippard. Denard Span is under team control for two more seasons, if the Nats pick up his team option for 2015. Wilson Ramos and Drew Storen have three more years of arbitration that could keep them in D.C. through the 2016 season.
The Nationals have seen their payroll rise dramatically in recent years, from $68 million in 2011 to $92 million in 2012 to $118 million in 2013, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. If there’s some more room for it to grow, if that ceiling gets a bit higher and the Nats are willing to splurge on the top free agent available, then they would certainly give themselves a better shot at a deep postseason run with Cano on board.
Asked about Cano on Tuesday after having acquired Fister the night before, Rizzo didn’t specifically comment on the Nationals’ interest (or lack thereof) in Cano.
“Well, those are things that of course I’m not going to address with the media on the phone, but like I said, we’re going to do what we have to do to improve the ballclub,” Rizzo said. “We’ve taken a step forward in acquiring Fister and we’re looking forward to tweaking things and making us a better ball club.”
Later that day, however, when asked about Cano on Sirius XM Radio, Rizzo said: “I don’t rule anything out but I don’t foresee us jumping into that market. It’s not a place we need to upgrade. We think that we have really good options at second base and (are) happy and looking forward to going into spring training with them.”
If the Nationals did acquire Cano, it would leave them with some tough decisions to make with their current crop of players. They could try and trade first baseman Adam LaRoche, which would likely leave them having to eat some of the $14 million he’s still owed on his contract. That would then probably lead them to move Ryan Zimmerman across the diamond to first base, something Rizzo has said that he doesn’t plan to do. Anthony Rendon would then take over at third base, a position with which he has plenty of experience, but a position where he made five errors in 15 games at the big league level last year.
Or the Nats could keep LaRoche, leave Zimmerman at third base and use Rendon off the bench as a backup option at second, third and shortstop.
If the market for Cano didn’t develop as many people had expected it to, if he had failed to find an offer that topped the Yankees’ seven-year, $175 million proposal, then maybe, maybe the Nationals could have gotten involved and tried to put the best possible product on the field in the next couple seasons.
But with the contract talks reaching the level that they have, the Nationals probably have gotten priced out of the Cano sweepstakes, that is if they had any interest in bringing him in in the first place.
Update: Well this is interesting. According to The New York Daily News, Cano’s talks with the Mariners “collapsed” after Cano’s agent, Jay-Z, tried to push the Mariners to a 10-year deal worth $252 million.
Per the report, Cano will not be signing with Seattle after this incident, apparently leaving the Yankees in a better spot and potentially opening things up for another team to jump back into the mix.
And the wheels continue to turn.
Update II: So much for those talks collapsing.
Cano and the Mariners have agreed to terms on a 10-year, $240 million deal, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com.
That’s a lot of Starbucks lattes. Guess Jay-Z got the job done, after all.