Cano Chases Money All the Way to Seattle

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

Last week, Robinson Cano left the Yankees to sign a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners.

The Yankees had offered a measly seven-year, $175 million contract. That $65 million difference in guaranteed money was enough for Cano to leave the 27-time world champions for a team that hasn’t won an American League pennant in its entire history.

I admit I was quite surprised by Cano’s decision to leave. Cano had the look of a player who would be a Yankee for life, go down as one of the greatest Yankees of all time and head to the Hall of Fame as a Bronx Bomber.

You can forget about that now.

Never before has a high-profile Yankee player left because the Yankees didn’t offer him enough money. Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams each flirted with the idea, but ultimately returned to the Bronx when the Yankees ponied up the dough.

Cano’s move away from the organization with which he spent 13 years looks especially selfish and poorly conceived considering Dustin Pedroia’s eight-year, $110 million contract extension with the Boston Red Sox last season. The two played for rival teams in the American League East and are the undisputed best second basemen in the league.

For years, I’ve argued that Cano is the better player of the two.  Over the past three seasons, Cano has played in more games, hit more home runs, driven in more runs and hit for a higher average. But, is he worth $130 million more than Pedroia? Not a chance. The Red Sox could have had two Pedroias for less than what the Mariners are paying Cano, and Pedroia is a year younger than Cano, too.

As much as it pains me to say it, Pedroia’s team-friendly contract reinforces the argument that his supporters have harped on for years. Pedroia is a team player and a winner in a way that the often lackadaisical Cano never was for the Yankees and never will be for the Mariners.

Before he signed with the Mariners, Cano’s dad told the New York Daily News that, “The Yankees don’t seem to want him.”

What is the game coming to when a team’s $175 million offer indicates a lack of interest?

Cano isn’t nearly on the level of former NBA player Latrell Sprewell, who once proclaimed, “I have a family to feed,” after feeling insulted by a three-year, $21 million offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Still, Cano’s surprising exit from New York shows that, in almost all cases, money matters more than anything else.

Was it too much to ask for Cano to leave $65 million in guaranteed money on the table? I don’t think so. The Yankees’ offer was more than reasonable, and some of that difference in the teams offers could have been made up for since Cano could have more easily marketed himself in New York.

Apparently Cano and his agent, rapper Jay-Z, saw things differently.

Seeing Robbie play in another uniform next season definitely won’t be easy. Still, I’m happy the Yankees held fast on their offer to Cano. The team knows first-hand that giving out long mega-deals can backfire after just a few years. Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira are all signed through at least 2016, and all have already seen major dips in their production.

Cano’s production may be worthy of his contract for the next three or four years, but there’s no way he’ll still produce like he’s being paid to for the the latter half of the deal.

I have few worries about my beloved Yankees. The team has had a productive offseason thus far, and other than refusing to overpay Cano, have been spending money like it’s 2009.

Paul O’Neill, four-time World Series champion with the Yankees, said it best. “There’s no place like New York and no team like the Yankees.”

Let’s see how Cano feels in three years when he’s playing for a perpetual loser in a town better known for its coffee than for its baseball.