Alfonso Soriano has put up impressive power numbers (17 home runs, 50 RBIs) since coming over in a trade from the Chicago Cubs in late-July, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson have had their moments since returning from injuries, and Brett Gardner had his before getting hurt.
But the lone constant in the Yankee order in 2013 has been Cano, who despite having little to no protection, has hit .314/.384/.517 with 27 home runs, 38 doubles and 105 RBIs. His OPS-plus of 145 is the best on the club and one of only two Yankee regulars (Gardner is the other) over the 100 mark.
Cano is in the final season of a club-friendly (or at least, relatively club-friendly) extension he signed in February 2008 to avoid arbitration, a deal that paid him $59 million over the last six seasons.
Cano will be 31 on Oct. 22 and the biggest worry for any team looking at laying out major dollars for a free agent north of 30 is that they will morph into Rodriguez or Albert Pujols, other superstars north of 30 who are providing greatly diminished returns on gigantic contracts.
Cano is now represented by Roc Nation Sports after he fired Scott Boras in April and Randy Levine told Bloomberg Television earlier this month that while Cano is not a "re-sign at all costs" player, the Yankees definitely want him back.
Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated laid out the case in August that Cano could be baseball's first $30 million a year player.
Instinctively, one wants to back away from that sort of a claim, but it actually makes sense. New York doesn't have much in the way of major-league ready prospects and if 2013 has shown us anything, it is that the Yankees might have been battling the Houston Astros if not for Cano.
He really is the Yankee offense. Per Baseball-Reference.com, the Yankee offense has produced a WAR of 11.8 this season. Of that figure, 6.7 belongs to Cano -- 5.1 to everyone else who has stepped in a batter's box wearing pinstripes this season.
Over the weekend, pitchers Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were honored as they get ready to step toward retirement. That leaves only Derek Jeter, provided he is able to return in 2014, as the last active tie to the championship teams of the late 20th century.
That means that Cano isn't just a want-to-have free agent, he's a have-to-have. Levine may say that no one is a "re-sign at all costs," but anyone who has watched the 2013 New York Yankees knows that Robinson Cano is definitely a player the Yankees must have back.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who also covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Robinson Cano
- New York Yankees
- Alex Rodriguez