Now the Yankees are supposed to spread the money out and get players who fit more into a team concept than the individual who puts up massive numbers. This reverts to the players who did imperative things that the unsung cogs in the machine from the late 1990s – Scott Brosius, Darryl Strawberry, Chili Davis, Joe Girardi – did to augment the stars that were integral to them winning. It’s an insult to Cano and a denigration of his skills to dismiss him and say that he wasn’t that great anyway and they only won one title with him as if that’s his fault. It’s as if he’s the one responsible for their inability to repeat their success from the 1990s and they’re glad he’s gone.
If Cano leaving proves anything it’s that the idea of players signing with or staying with the Yankees has nothing to do with the “rich tapestry of history” that the storyline promotes. It has to do with money. One of the most popular memes going back 100 years is that everyone wants to be a Yankee. Before the draft was implemented, players signed with the Yankees because they won every year and they offered the most money. Once the draft was created, the Yankees struggled because they were unable to adapt to the new landscape in which they couldn’t simply buy amateur players. It took free agency for them to truly be able to regain their footing as they dove in with an open checkbook and signed Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage among others. There were some cases in which players chose to play elsewhere in spite of the money Steinbrenner threw around. Rod Carew didn’t want to go to New York. John Denny didn’t like the atmosphere and perception of disarray. Greg Maddux didn’t want to be the center of attention and didn't like New York. It’s happened, but not often. Some of the more popular stories of players joining the Yankees follow with the whispered epilogue superseding the vast money that few want to acknowledge as the real reason:
- Torre called Mike Mussina to express how much the Yankees wanted him (and the Yankees offered him $87 million).
- Bernie Williams called George Steinbrenner as he and Scott Boras were about to go to Boston to sign with the Red Sox (and the Yankees upped their initial offer by about $30 million to nearly match the Red Sox offer).
- Derek Jeter signed a long-term extension to shun free agency (for $189 million).
- Alex Rodriguez signed a contract to stay (for $275 million).
- Roger Clemens returned after one of his frequent retirements and three years with the Astros (for a prorated $28 million).
For the most part, the Yankees get the players because they pay for them. Another team paid Cano far more than the Yankees were willing to and he left.
Cano signing with the Mariners for ten years and $240 million is a disaster for the Yankees. Don’t let it be framed any differently than that. They have a lot of work to do. No matter how it’s twisted to suit the Yankees and their fans to explain away a need to adapt, losing the best second baseman in baseball is never a good thing. He’s almost impossible to replace and there are limited options to do it. Don’t believe the sources explaining away the Yankees allowing Cano to leave. It’s damage control. There was lot of damage to control before Cano left. If they hope to still be perceived as the Yankees of old, they have to fix it. Losing Cano is a bad start.