By Sweeny Murti
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How much money is Robinson Cano going to get?
He's the biggest free-agent target on the market and in any other year it would seem an easy call to say he will remain a Yankee, but it doesn't seem as easy to call this year. The prospect of getting stuck with another bad long-term deal combined with the hope of getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold make Cano's re-signing with the Yankees more than the formality it would otherwise be.
And that's not to mention a growing disconnect with the Yankees fans because of Cano's propensity to jog out ground balls, an act that didn't appear to get much attention until there were tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on the line. Now, it seems, there must be a certain style to go with the substance.
But let's take a look at it another way. What if the second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers or the Kansas City Royals turned 31 years old this week and was going to be a free agent? And since joining the majors in 2005 all he's done is this: bat .309/.355/.504, play at least 159 games a year every year since 2007, hit 40 doubles every year but one since 2006, hit at least 25 home runs every year since 2009, finish in the top six in MVP voting for three straight years, and win two Gold Gloves.
If the Yankees had a need at second base, is there any way a player with that resume would be presumed to be going anywhere except the Bronx?
Cano might jog out a ball he's out on 99 percent of the time anyway, but if you forget about the one negative and look at all the positives it's not even a fair fight. And that's why Cano is going to be paid big money this winter. The questions become 1) how much, and 2) is there really a chance it's someone other than the Yankees that signs him?
That's what I tried to figure out with a poll I put together last week. I asked over 40 major league executives, former executives, agents, and players-turned-broadcasters for their guesses on how much money Robinson Cano would receive. For obvious reasons, none of the executives were with the Yankees and none of the agents were with the firm currently representing Cano.
In case you were wondering, I performed a similar exercise three years ago when Derek Jeter's contract was up and the survey turned out 24 responses with an average guess on terms almost identical to the three-year, $54 million dollar deal he just completed (plus the player option pending), so I figured I'd give this another try with Cano and see what numbers turned up.
My question was worded "What will Robinson Cano sign for?" It was not worded "what is he worth" or "what would you pay him?" My end goal here was to get people in the industry to tell me where they thought the contract was headed when all is said and done. And this after initial reports of Cano seeking a deal north of $300 million.
Granted, this isn't all that scientific. But it's something.
I ended up with 34 responses, and after tossing out the highest and lowest numbers, I averaged out 32 responses (13 executives, 11 agents, eight players-turned-broadcasters). So what is the magic number?
This group collectively averaged out to terms of seven years and $181 million (or more than $25 million per year). Does that sound like a reasonable deal for Cano to stay in pinstripes?
The guesses I gathered broke down tellingly within job descriptions -- the 13 team executives averaged out around $23 million per year, while the 11 agents averaged out at almost $27 million per year. No surprise, the agents always think the player is worth more.
Cano seems likely to sign either a seven- or eight-year deal, according to most of the people I surveyed. Only five of the 32 responses were something other seven- or eight-year proposals.
Other possibilities that were thrown in included opt-out clauses, option years, and award bonuses. The Yankees typically don't offer award clauses, but they have gotten creative with such things in contracts for A-Rod and Jeter.
While every one of my respondents guessed Cano would remain with the Yankees, other teams mentioned as possibilities included Detroit, Texas, Baltimore and Cincinnati. The Dodgers have publicly stated they don't intend to pursue Cano, and the general feeling of those I spoke with believe they are telling the truth.
So the bottom line is this: If I told you the Yankees ended up signing Cano to a seven-year, $181 million contract, what would you say?
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