With righteous indignation ESPN’s Steven A. Smith lamented on First Take yesterday that since the N.Y. Yankees overpaid for Jacoby Ellsbury, they have to do the same for Robinson Cano. With all due respect Steven A., Hogwash!
On balance, Steven A. is generally more rational and measured in his commentary. He has demonstrated an appreciation for the business aspect of things on many occasions. As he is a self-admitted Yankee fan, I will cut him some slack here, but he is wrong for several reasons.
To date, Cano’s representation, led by Jay Z, has handled this negotiation horribly. Firstly, the 300 plus million they reportedly asked for and referred to as, “buying out Cano’s free agency”, when he still had a season left on his contract, is ass backwards.
I am shocked that I have not heard anyone in the media call them on this. You see generally you ask for less money when you are still under contract… Not more! Dustin Pedroia’s 110 million dollar contract with the Boston Red Sox is a great example. (In fact instead of asking how can the Yankees not overpay Cano when they overpaid Ellsbury, we should be asking how can Cano not accept the Yankees offer after Pedroia accepted the Red Sox? Does Cano think he is that much better than him?)
Players generally settle for less while currently under contract when they want to stay with their current team, (as Cano professes to want to stay with the Yankees), and avoid the risk of injury taking away a nice payday. It is commonly referred to as “the home team discount”. Cano’s people, I guess wanted, “the home team surcharge!”
A simple rule of negotiation when you want to make a deal with someone is to start with a proposal that is in the ballpark of reality. If I am applying for a job that pays between 10 and 12 dollars an hour and put a salary demand in my cover letter of 31 dollars an hour, I will not get that interview. Maybe if I put 13, 14 or 15 dollars per hour, and I had superstar credentials, maybe I get call in for an interview and we negotiate.
Speaking of superstar credentials, Cano doesn’t have them. Steven A., you admit this, and that Cano doesn’t draw at the gate like a Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez. Cano doesn’t hit 40 home runs, (over 30 HR once!) doesn’t bat 350, doesn’t steal 50 bases, (doesn’t steal 10!), and doesn’t generate revenue by drawing crowds at the stadium, or on TV.
Where the bleep do his reps get off asking for 300 plus million? It is an insulting figure to the Yankees and the fans of the team. Why? A- Are the Yankees and the fans that stupid? B-You can’t care too much about winning and ask for that number, even from the Yankees. Especially in a year when they are trying to cut payroll so they can save on revenue tax and reload even more in the future.
Cano’s more recent $260 million figure, while less ludicrous than the 300 plus, is still ludicrous and not a reasonable starting point. A- Because his credentials do not warrant it. B- Because of the handful of teams that could possibly afford it, (Dodgers, Red Sox, Mets, Angels) no one is in. Why should the Yankees bid against themselves? They refused to do it with Jeter’s last three-year contract, and they’re right for not doing it with Cano.
Steve A., the Yankees had given Cano and his reps. ample notice that they were going to pursue other free agents if they didn’t move on the Yankees offer of 7 years 160 million. A great offer considering what Pedroia makes in Boston. Had Jay Z and his partners showed more reasonableness in their figures, (maybe started out at 8/ 210 mill) perhaps the Yankees could have played it out and landed on 7/ 180. But given their unreasonable demands to date, the Yankees had to believe it was possible Cano would not come down. And maybe the one dumb owner theory would play out and Cano would get north of 200 from somebody. (A figure you agree they should walk from.)
So the Yankees paid Brian McCann and now Ellsbury. Yes Steven A., they overpaid. But that is what teams do to get players to leave a team and join theirs. What were the Yankees suppose to do, wait? Let Ellsbury and everyone else get signed? There was a market and competition for Ellsbury in a price range the Yankees were comfortable with. Where is the market for Cano? Who is offering the absurd figure he is asking for that you agree the Yankees shouldn’t pay? Good luck in Seattle if they end up being that team.
Cano was adequately warned and his team saw how the last major Jeter negotiation was handled. They can’t claim to be surprised. If the Yankees add another piece, or can no longer afford Cano, or do not want to budge off of their 7/160 or “only” go to 7/ 170, I have no problem with it. Cano took a risk. Sometimes risks payoff, sometimes they don’t.
Cano has showed zero loyalty to the Yankees in these negotiations so far, why should they should more to him than he is showing to them or to the fans? If it is all about money to Cano then it is fair that it is all about money and business to the Yankees.
Paying Ellsbury $153 mill doesn’t prove they can still pay Cano $180. All it proves is that they had that ballpark amount of money allocated to pay one player…Cano didn’t move on what was offered to him or make a reasonable counter, so the Yankees moved on.
If I had to pick between Cano at 7/175 or Ellsbury at 7/153… In two seconds I’d pick Cano. But he didn’t give the Yankees that choice. If they close him out or don’t have the money or inclination to go above that, blame Cano and or his reps. Not the Yankees.