Robinson Cano is far too good a player to be left behind in free agency. The game is far too healthy for this to end any way other than Cano merrily signing a contract that will take him well into his late 30s, making him wealthier than he's ever known. He'll play ball and, if he so chooses, be happy doing it.
The question, however, is would he do that in Seattle?
As he crept toward winter, and fired his super agent, and locked up with Jay Z, and had someone let slip he sought $300 million, Cano's free agency seemed to advance a long, weary path back into pinstripes. The New York Yankees weren't in a place where they could dismiss a talented and beloved player in his prime, as they did not have many of those left. And Cano, by virtue of his career and choice in agents, was most definitely from New York.
Maybe that is where this all ends, back in New York, everyone smiling through the hard feelings and misunderstandings, the Yankees having spent money like they were building an excuse to not sign Cano, Cano having felt like he alone was the antidote for luxury-tax fever, but all is well now.
Well, on Thursday ESPNDeportes reported the Seattle Mariners had increased their offer to Cano to as much as $240 million over 10 years, which is not terribly out of line considering who Cano is and what the Mariners are. A call to CAA brought no comment. And, I'll admit, I do not have Jay Z's phone number. The Mariners aren't talking.
“We're not waiting for Robbie,” Brian Cashman told reporters Thursday during a news conference introducing catcher Brian McCann. “And Robbie is not waiting for us. We're out trying to sign players. We've been trying to sign him, as well.”
This, of course, puts Cano in a difficult position, if you cut away the fact someone is indeed going to give him at least $200 million to play baseball. The Yankees aren't great. They do bleed great, however. And with a flick of Hal Steinbrenner's pen they could be great again. The Mariners, on the other hand, aren't the Yankees. It's hard to say how important that is to Cano on a conceptual level. He could take the money, move to Seattle, stand beside Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager and Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker, hope his commitment draws others, and believe it amounts to something more than a paycheck. For the Mariners will require another starting pitcher, and a closer, and even another guy who can hit at least a little bit. Baseball operations doesn't know exactly what ownership intends to spend (though $240 million for Cano should tell it something), so Cano also is taking the chance that the Mariners' revival amounts to Cano. That won't be enough. And that could lead to a fairly miserable decade for him.
If the Mariners have gone all in on Cano, they're not likely to let him shop their offer around baseball for long. That's not general manager Jack Zduriencik's style.
There will be other teams, because Robinson Cano is that good. There might never be another $240 million, if that is what the Mariners offered, and it might have to be their offer if they'd hoped to get his attention.
Would Cano pick up and move 2,400 miles away? Would he leave New York when it seemed all he wanted to do was stay? Could he be the same guy, the same player, in Seattle? Could he make a difference there? Would others follow?
Meantime, the Yankees introduced McCann. Soon, they'll introduce Jacoby Ellsbury. They're still shopping. They're still calling Cano.
“We're going to keep plugging away at it,” Hal Steinbrenner said in New York on Thursday, “until it either happens or it doesn't.”
And if it doesn't?
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