November 18, 2013

Robbie Cano, meet Albert Pujols; introduce your agents, too

It's becoming more and more clear that Robinson Cano, the Yankees' Division 1-AA star, is NOT going to get $300 million in his next contract, not from the Yankees and not from nobody else. Why would his agent be making carefully parsed noise like this if the case were otherwise?
While no teams have publicly emerged for Cano, his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, continues to say that it would be silly to believe there's no interest in a player of Cano's magnitude.
There's a lot of difference between "no interest" and "less than $300M difference," and Wagenen knows that well.

Why did I make the Albert Pujols and agents comments in the header?

First, Pujols' 10-year length on his contract surely has scared off other teams from similar ideas with Cano, first. Second, I suspect that Van Wagenen, like Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, was hoping to get his name in the American Sports Agents Book of Records with a new record new contract for a player. (And, when I first wrote this, I forgot that the ultimate mogul here is Jay Z.)

Well, Lozano couldn't pass Alex Rodriguez (and Scott Boras) and neither will you two.

And, ESPN's story on the latest Yankees response makes clear that that's part of what's at stake for Van Wagenen and Jay Z: bumping aside Boras.

Calling Cano "the next Michael Jordan" as part of that is simply laughable. Plus, as the story notes, the Yankees made Derek Jeter "drink the reality potion" a few years back. Cano & Company will be drinking that potion, whether with the Yankees or somebody else.

Next, why did I make the "Division 1-AA" comment?

Because Cano isn't at the level of those players. He's not the next Jordan, nor is he the next Pujols or A-Rod.

Steroids or whatever, as late as 2008, at the age of 32, A-Rod had an OPS+ of 150. Pujols had a 173 at the age of 30, followed by 148 at 31. No steroids involved, to the best of our knowledge.

Now, let's note this fact:

Cano has NEVER had an OPS+ of 150. Never. Period. End of story. Maybe he's 1-A, but, he's not part of the BCS mix, to continue that analogy.

OK, since he's won multiple Gold Gloves, let's compare the three on WAR and WAA, then.

Cano's best? A 8.5 WAR, 6.0 WAA in 2012. Pujols had a 9.7/7.6 in 2009. (And won two Gold Gloves.)  A-Rod had a 10.3/8.1 in 2000. (And won two Gold Gloves also.)

I think, even in today's baseball salary world, anything above $25M is an overpay, as is more than 7 years. So, Cano and Van Wagenen, if you want 7/$180M, you might get that. But, more? Not a chance. Certainly, not a chance for 7/$200M, which closely approaches the $30M/year mark.

Because, you, Robbie, aren't worth it. Even if you're a bit of a late peaker, I still don't expect you to every break 150 on the OPS+, nor get any better on fielding range. And, if your agent's in this for head games, I'd find another one, and quickly. The one-year tender system has been a way for owners and GMs, if not those of the Arte Moreno ilk, to exercise a modicum of enforced self-control by mutually assured undercutting with those compensatory draft picks.

And, that's the deal. The more you pay for a free agent with a tender offer, the more burden to perform you face.

You see, you and your agent aren't only facing Pujols and his injuries, you're facing tender-forfeited draft choice Michael Wacha. Maybe owners aren't thinking quite so much about that, but at least a few GMs surely are. If you deteriorate like a cheap suit at a post-George Zimmer Men's Wearhouse, a GM comes under fire for your overpay. If you deteriorate like that and the Yanks get the next Michael Wacha in return, for pennies on the dollar, said GM is really in trouble.

Beyond that, where's the market for Cano? The Dodgers already signed Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero. Boston has Dustin Pedroia. The Angels don't have the money. Neither do the Phils, who anyway have Chase Utley through 2018 if he hits vesting option targets.

The Cubs are the only other team with this type of money floating around, with the exception of the Astros if they put a crowbar in their wallet, and there's been no serious buzz about you going to either place. Besides, the Astros have Jose Altuve as one of their less bad, more promise, cheap young players.

And, if the Yankees are thinking about signing Stephen Drew and trying him at second, according to some rumors, or doing that with Jhonny Peralta, if he's not replacing a suspended A-Rod, or moving the re-signed Brendan Ryan there on days he's not spelling Jeter, the Yankees sure aren't overpaying.

Of course, a Yankee signing of either of those first two affects the Cardinals' SS plans.

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