THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE WINTER MEETINGS
As much grief as he’s taken for not re-signing all star second baseman Robinson Cano, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman need only look to his counterpart in Seattle to see what he would have lived with had he matched, or bettered the Mariners 10 year, $40 million offer.
In New York Cashman has heard it daily from the pundits for not making a stronger bid to keep Cano, but he can take heart in seeing what the national media is putting Jack Zduriencik through. Only in New York does the media seem to think the offer was worth matching. Other media ports represented at baseball’s winter meetings in Florida are unanimous in questioning the sanity of a deal that, at the backend, pays a player in his 40’s a salary well over $20 million a year. As one analyst pointed out, it would have to be the first such deal that worked in favor of the signing team and the Mariners are likely to be trying to unload a contract no one wants after five or six years.
The writers in New York were quick to mention Jacoby Ellsbury’s age when the Yankees signed him to a seven year contract with a team option for an eighth year. Ellsbury will be 37 at the end of the contract, 38 if the Yanks opt for the final year, which would mean Ellsbury had been earning his paycheck over the first seven.
Someone finally did the math on what it would actually take for the Yankees to match the Mariners offer of $240 million in a tax free state, when gauged against the tax structure in New York. It would cost the Yankees somewhere north of $280 million, pretty close to what Cano was looking for, and the Yankees stood firm against, in the first place. The contract with the mariners works for two people, Cano and Jay Z, who’s trying to establish himself among sports agents. The Yankees were never given a chance to counter, an indication that the Mariners told Cano and Jay Z the offer went off the table if they went out the door, a tactic the Yankees can appreciate, the same one they used with Johnny Damon.
Being in New York Cashman is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t, facing the wrath of the writers for not signing Cano while knowing full well he’d confront similar persecution if he matched the Mariners offer and made Cano the next Alex Rodriquez. The only New York pundits with the right to criticize Cashman for refusing to play the Cano-Jay Z game are the ones who still think that A-Rod deal is working out well for the Yankees. I’d ask for a show of hands, but there can’t be any.
With the Yankees needing pitching with a free agent market share that draws luke warm interest at best, they needed strength from which to deal with other teams, at a time when they’ve seen the stock drop on their once vaunted crop of minor league outfielders. From that standpoint the signings of Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann make sense for two reasons. Both are legitimate talents with offensive and defensive strengths, and both give the Yankees position depth from which to deal in the search of established pitching while pursuing Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka through the posting system.
So far the winter meetings have been good for Brian Cashman. They’ve given him a chance to see not everyone sees things through the same blinders as his hometown media.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.