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Sweeny: The Cano Contract

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Robinson Cano (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Robinson Cano (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

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By Sweeny Murti
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It should come as no surprise to anyone that Scott Boras has asked the Yankees to re-work Robinson Cano’s contract.

Cano is currently one of the best hitters in the game and playing Gold Glove defense in the center of the diamond.  Over the last three seasons he is averaging .314/.361/.529 (.890 OPS), 24 home runs, 104 RBIs, 103 runs and 160 games played.

Last week Cano turned 29 and the Yankees have option years for 2012 at $14 million and 2013 at $15 million, relative bargains for the kind of production that has made him a MVP candidate two years in a row.

Cano’s previous agent Bobby Barad signed Cano to a 4-year contract that paid him $28 million over the last four seasons and has virtually guaranteed him $29 million in team options over the next two years (it would be silly to think the Yankees would not pick up these options, which is why Mr. Boras is trying to get more now).

The Yankees have the player signed to a very good deal and the player got significant security when he was still young and was not making big money.  So what’s the problem?

First of all, Scott Boras is doing nothing wrong.  His client is now one of the best players in baseball and he is doing what any agent is supposed to do, get the most money for his client.  The problem for Boras is that Cano jumped to him last winter in the middle of a contract, so if the Yankees do as planned and pay Cano for the remaining options, Boras does not see any money from Cano until he can become a free agent, which will not be for another two years when the options run out.

The other problem for Boras is that he lacks any leverage.  The Yankees have no obligation to do anything other than honor the current contract.  They actually broke form four years ago when they signed Cano to a long-term deal through his arbitration years and into free agency, something they did not do for even Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera when they were first arbitration eligible.

If Cano were a free agent this year, he would be near the head of the class with sluggers Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.  At that point, the Yankees would probably be negotiating with Boras on a deal north of $25 million a season for 8-10 years.  Signing the deal that he did four years ago, Cano took a risk on postponing his free agency and did so relative to the market at that time.

From the Yankees perspective there is simply no point in opening up this sort of negotiation.  Certainly, a player has never negotiated down after bad years, so there is no need to negotiate up now.  Both sides live with the contract in place. If you think the Yankees will save any money by ripping up Cano’s current deal, think again.

Could it make for an unhappy player?  Maybe, but I doubt it would have that affect on Cano.  He is still going to make more money the next two years than he has to this point in his career and he will still be only 31 when he hits free agency, the same age that Pujols is now.

Cano has grown into the best player on this Yankee team.  In two years that will still be true without any question, and Derek Jeter will be 39 and heading into the final year on his contract, A-Rod will be 38 and his production most certainly tied to his relative health.  By April of 2014, Mark Teixeira will be 34 and heading out of his prime.  Cano will be in excellent position to cash in, even more than right now, because the Yankees will have lineup issues to deal with and Cano will be on the open market, unlike now.

Robinson Cano’s big payday is coming.  It’s just not coming as fast as Scott Boras would like.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

Sweeny Murti

Yankees@wfan.com

www.twitter.com/YankeesWFAN

**For the latest on CC Sabathia, Jose Reyes, a World Series recap, and more tune into WFAN this Saturday from 10am-3pm.  I will be hosting with Ed Coleman, talking baseball and taking your calls!**

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