Keidel: Here’s To You, Robinson Cano
By Jason Keidel
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It’s good to be Robinson Cano. The homegrown Yankee with the savant’s swing has his employer bent over one of the most opulent barrels in baseball history.
The Yankees are old and expensive and Cano is not. Enter Scott Boras to change the latter, to scribble over Cano’s expired price tag. Boras, the face of free agency, of avarice, of Gordon Gekko gone wild, will ask for 10 years, a quarter-billion, and part ownership in the stadium’s steakhouse. And the Yanks will be forced to fork most of it over, and perhaps even break their calcified corporate stance of never negotiating before a player’s contract expires. Cano can go wherever he wants after October.
Compared to the team’s conga line of graybeards, Cano is a pup in his prime. Not since Bernie Williams flirted with Boston has a Yankee enjoyed such cosmic leverage. And just as with the beloved Bernie, Boras is sharpening his negotiating knife, while the man across the table, Brian Cashman, reaches for his Rolaids. Thanks to Hal Steinbrenner’s new-found frugality, Cashman has been asked to do more with less, handcuffed by Alex Rodriguez, the face of old success and excess. All moves are impacted by A-Rod’s cash, cachet, and vanishing skills.
As paradoxical as it sounds, the Yankees must make a bad business move to make a good baseball move. Cano, 30, will make $15 million this season – hardly a pittance, but pocket change compared to what his well-heeled surrogates will demand. And yes, the Yanks must pay. He’s a wildly gifted second baseman, and a lifetime .308 hitter with a swing that would make Roy Hobbs blush.
Signing Cano serves several purposes and solves several problems. It shows that they are still willing to flex their wallet when needed and hence prove to their enemies and fan base alike that they’re still serious about winning.
Cano is from San Pedro de Macoris, perhaps the most fertile baseball soil on Earth, spawning an army of icons too numerous to list here. And Cano will soon join his athletic ancestors at the vault. He knows the Yankees can’t let him go to a higher bidder, which is not only an oxymoron but blasphemy. The Yankees poach your team, never the reverse. And Darth Vader’s mask fits perfectly on Cano, whose wide, white smile can penetrate even the darkest typecast about Yankee hubris.
I don’t pretend to be his friend, but I’ve met Robinson Cano, and you start smiling just because he is, even when no word is spoken. And you understand why his smile might just be a little whiter and wider this year.
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