COMMENTARY | Free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano had an outside force impact his market potential Wednesday night when the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers completed a blockbuster trade involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler.
This trade could either force Cano's stock to plummet or provide a legitimate competitor to the New York Yankees' pursuit of the top free agent this offseason.
The deal, detailed by MLB.com, saw the Tigers exchange power-hitting first baseman Fielder and $30 million to the Rangers for one of MLB's top offensive second basemen in Kinsler. The Rangers will pay Fielder $138 million over the remaining seven years of an original nine-year, $214 million contract. The Tigers undoubtedly were looking to get out from under the weight the contract had put them in financially.
There are clear ramifications for Cano, who again this week stipulated he is looking for a 10-year, $310 million contract for his services, as this report from the New York Post described.
First, if Cano was not certain that many teams feel contracts in the seven-year and beyond range are becoming a thing of the past for free agents, then he'll have to think again. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski is considered by many to be one of the top executives in the game and he essentially admitted a mistake with the monster deal for Fielder by dealing him after just two seasons in Detroit.
Besides the Yankees, the only team to have shown any level of outward interest in Cano is the New York Mets, and the meeting they recently held with him and his representatives, as noted in the New York Post article, was more likely a kind gesture for future business. Only the Yankees have an offer on the table for Cano.
Surely, the Tigers are now out of the running for Cano with Kinsler set to man the keystone after they allowed Omar Infante to go via free agency. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been considered out of the sweepstakes since they signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero in October. The Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs have the payroll flexibility and the need, but neither seems to be knocking down Cano's door.
The Rangers' part in this trade creates interesting possibilities. Texas might have simply made the move to allow prospect Jurickson Profar to take over Kinsler's role at second base. The Rangers could then use any remaining funds to fuel their desire for free-agent catcher Brian McCann and starting pitching. Maybe they'll enter the Masahiro Tanaka posting sweepstakes?
Also, there is some speculation implied by this New York Post article and elsewhere suggesting Texas may try to trade either Profar or shortstop Elvis Andrus for pitching, so that it can then go after Cano. Would the Rangers be willing to make another long-term commitment when they can stay young and spend Cano's potential $25 million-plus average annual salary on two players?
The Yankees have already told Cano and his reps that in order for talks to go further they are going to have to decrease their contract demands. The Yanks hope other teams agree with their stance that extending lengthy $200 million-plus offers to free agents already in their 30s is a mistake.
This demonstrates the Yankees' dilemma. The club wants to re-sign Cano, but not if it means repeating their recent history of ill-fated deals. On the flip side, losing Cano would create a large offensive hole in the Yankees' lineup.
The Yankees would have stiff competition for Cano's services if the Rangers in fact deal Profar or Andrus. The Rangers are among the wealthiest teams in the majors and have not been bashful with their payroll in recent years.
The Rangers' next move will have a significant affect on the Cano market. Of course, the Yankees hope Texas sticks with Profar and Andrus thus eliminating a true competitor. If there is one team as stubborn as the Yankees and has enough cash to eclipse the $200+ million mark on a single player it is the Texas Rangers.
The last thing the Yankees want is a bidding war, which could cost the team tens of millions of dollars. In the meantime, Robinson Cano would like nothing more than to see an opening in Texas.
Chris Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work as a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports, Chris created and maintains his own blog site, The Baseball Stance, which provides commentary about all of Major League Baseball. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
- Sports & Recreation
- Robinson Cano
- New York Yankees
- Prince Fielder
- Detroit Tigers
- Ian Kinsler
- New York Post