This Salary “Cap” Is Getting Out Of Hand….The New York Yankees Should Absolutely Not Trade Robinson Cano

Updated: February 10, 2013

canoooThere has been some debate in recent days about the fate of New York Yankee second basemen Robinson Cano. Cano, the best second baseman in baseball, will be a free agent at the end of this season and, if the Yankees will give it to him, is in line for a $200 million-plus extension. Cano plays a premiere postion excellently, he’s a middle of the order bat with a very high average and plus power, and he’s proven that he can handle the big time in New York.

The first issue is that the Yankees are trying really hard to get under the $189 million payroll cap next season. If they don’t, their luxury tax hit will be immense (something like $90 million). The second issue is that the Bombers seem to have mortgaged the future for present success and they’re starting to regret it. Let me explain.

The Yankees have massive long term, high money commitments to Mark Texeira, CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and, sort of, Derek Jeter (not really, but they’ll resign him for sure and it will cost). All of those guys are old and getting older and only Sabathia has panned out the way the Yanks had hoped. A-Rod is disaster. Between the drama off the field, the strikeouts on it, and the PED stuff, the Yankees would have trouble giving him away. Tex hasn’t hit nearly as well in the last couple years and said this offseason that his performance needs to be better to justify his salary.

The idea of adding another $200 million commitment is, understandably, a bit scary to Yankees’ brass. Here’s my response: I don’t care.

The beauty of being the Yankees is that this crap cap shouldn’t matter. While I understand that the major tax hit is a big deal and the team wants to avoid it, $90 million isn’t the end of the world. Further, this team should be able to carry 5 $25m a year players on the roster at once. We’re talking about the New York Yankees, the single most valuable team in sports, worth well over the $2 Billion that the Magic Johnson group paid for the Dodgers. Money is not in short supply.

When Hal Steinbrenner came out recently and said that he was a “budget guy” who loved financial planning and fiscal responsibility, I almost lost it. Fiscally responsible people should not own pro sports teams, let alone the Yankees. Fiscal irresponsibility should be a prerequisite for buying a team. Professional sports are for the fans, not the players, not the owners. The fans generate the money and the fame and reap much of the enjoyment. Fans want owners like the Tigers’ Mike Illtch who threw $200 million at Prince Fielder last winter just because he could. That’s fun; budgets aren’t.  Isn’t the point of sports to have fun?

That said, the Yankees aren’t like other teams. I understand having a long term plan for success and I understand that teams with limited financial resources sometimes have to sacrifice present success to help ensure future winning seasons. Great, I’m all for it. That’s not the Yankees though. They have UNLIMITED financial resources. They can do whatever they want and pay whoever they want–that they don’t is a disservice to the millions of people who buy Yankee tickets, hats, jerseys and thereby fill those massive coffers. Read that last sentence again.

The start of this disturbing trend was when the Yankees failed to buy Cliff Lee (obviously I only mean that a little bit). When Lee chose Philly over New York despite the money, it was actually an impressively good moment for baseball as a whole, but now it’s all coming to a head with this Robinson Cano stuff. I’ve heard people talk about trading Cano for a bunch of top quality prospects in an effort to restock for the future and avoid having to pay him. That’s dumb.

The Yankees may not be as good as they were last year or 2009 or 1998, but they are easily a 90 win team. This is not the time to start selling. Let’s not trade our undisputed best player in his walk year.

Did I mention the Yankees can pay him!? That they don’t really want to isn’t a good excuse. The Yankees and their fans deserve the type of ownership the Dodgers have, and that New York once had. I hated Geore Steinbrenner but, believe it of not, I kind of miss him. He would never have contemplated trading Cano for prospects. The Yankees are different from the Royals and must be run differently than the Royals. The Yankees need to pay Cano… and ARod, and Tex, and CC, and Jeter, and pay 20 guys on top of that. That’s the Yankee way.

(Programming note: I’m planning a post disputing everything I just said and discussing the ways in which the massive contracts are going to sink the once mighty Bombers in the next few days.)

-Max Frankel

Stat of the DayThe 2004 Angels had a total of 2.0 relief innings pitched by left handers.  They won the AL West that year.

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