Cano, Ellsbury, Jay-Z and Boras - On Tour
The obvious answer is absolutely not. Cano is a second baseman. Scour baseball and see how many second basemen put up the numbers that Cano does with Gold Glove defense and the ability to perform in a high-pressure atmosphere. Then see how many are a fraction as good as Cano and are available.
Now look at Ellsbury. Are the center fielders available who can be a reasonable facsimile of him and can be had on the market? Dexter Fowler was just traded for a lowball return. Curtis Granderson is a free agent. Even Brett Gardner might be available because the Yankees have signed Ellsbury and he’s an eerily similar player without the hype.
I don’t believe that the Yankees are out on Cano. The signing of Ellsbury, however, does put it in doubt as to whether they’re willing to do what it takes to trump the other offers that are out there such as the Mariners reaching the $200 million plateau. In addition, once other clubs get the sense that Cano is actually in play, there’s a very real possibility that they’ll jump in with a vengeance to try and use the Yankees reluctance to lure their best player away.
Let’s take a look at the aftershocks and possible futures with the Yankees strange decision to sign Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract.
For the Yankees
Count me among the masses who don’t understand this decision to sign a 30-year-old speed player with a long injury history and a reputation for being sensitive to a contract of this magnitude. It is not a denigration of Ellsbury to say that he’s not a prototypical star who deserves such a lucrative, long-term contract. Ellsbury is a terrific defensive center fielder, has great speed and experience in a high-pressure atmosphere. He also has limited power and doesn’t fill the Yankees’ stated need for power in the outfield.
Was this a Brian Cashman move or did the Steinbrenners – tired of the dance with Cano, Jay-Z and CAA – tell the GM to get something done with Ellsbury? Given Cashman’s stated preference for power hitters, it’s hard to imagine that he wanted a player who is somewhat redundant and not all that much better than Gardner. The Red Sox regretted signing Carl Crawford to a contract that is almost identical to the one that Ellsbury just signed when he was essentially the same type of player as Ellsbury. The Yankees did the same thing with Ellsbury and Gardner.
If they are still able to keep Cano, then fine. Ellsbury is just another good player who’ll get on base and into scoring position for Cano and Mark Teixeira to drive in. If it costs them Cano, then it’s a disaster waiting to happen and a mistake they’ll regret for a decade.
They signed Kelly Johnson and have been sniffing around Omar Infante and Brandon Phillips. None of these players are Cano in any fashion. If Cano leaves, the Ellsbury signing won’t have been done to improve the roster, but out of spite to teach Cano, Jay-Z and any other person who dares to ask for what the Steinbrenners deem to be too much money that no one pushes them around.
You can’t find second basemen to do what Cano does. The Yankees giving Ellsbury this amount of money while trying to lowball Cano isn’t about the bottom line alone. There’s something underneath this. It’s personal and they’re shoving Cano’s face in it, daring him to leave. Letting personal feelings enter into a business decision is a sure way to make a bad business decision that will haunt the club for years and that will be the case if Cano departs.