The suddenly at least somewhat budget-conscious New York Yankees face a looming contract negotiation with their best player, Robinson Cano. ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney does not expect the Yankees hand over an Alex Rodriguez-type contract to the star second baseman.
Cano is going to finish near the top of the AL MVP voting next week, again, after hitting .313 with 33 homers. He finished second in the majors in WAR, and he is one of the best defensive second basemen in the sport. There is this, too -- Cano, like Miguel Cabrera, always plays; he's missed a total of 12 games over the last six seasons.
Cano will want to get paid for all of that next fall, when he turns 31 years old. He has hired Scott Boras to represent him, and when Boras is involved, there is no hometown discount. He'll probably ask for a contract a decade long, a deal that could threaten Rodriguez's as a benchmark in the sport.
The comparison between Rodriguez and Cano will probably be part of the Yankees' internal discussion, as well. If Cashman holds to his history as an economic conservative, his rhetorical questions to the Steinbrenners and the others in the room will be: Do we want to pay megadollars to Cano for the second half of his career as we did with Rodriguez? Do we all see what Rodriguez is at age 37 and know this is what Cano could become?
But Cashman is likely to be willing to draw a surprisingly hard line, in what figure to be really tough and contentious negotiations with Cano.
Valentine's View: The Yankees know they made a mistake tying themselves to A-Rod for so many years. The Anaheim Angels made the same mistake with Albert Pujols. As much as it would hurt the Yankees short-term to lose Cano, if it's going to take a 7-10-year deal to get it done that would be another mistake. Especially for a player who is supremely talented, but whose work ethic sometimes draws questions.