Monday, February 4, 2013
At a time when the Yankees are seeing, more than ever, the perils of a long-term megadeal with a 30-something player, they are likely just months away from pursuing a long-term megadeal with a 30-year-old player. Cano, who is making $15 million this season, might not get 10 years or $275 million from any team. But it shouldn’t shock anyone if he ends up getting an offer of $200 million or more, especially if the Los Angeles Dodgers get involved.
Two years ago, Cano ditched his former agent, Bobby Barad, and hired Scott Boras. You don’t hire Boras to settle for a modest deal from your current employer. You hire Boras to give yourself the means to purchase a small country. That’s what Rodriguez did, and the result was two record-breaking contracts.
What the Yankees must ask themselves is this: Is there anything to be learned from the A-Rod mess that applies to Cano? Or are the two of them so different—and the need to keep Cano so great—that the Yankees should pay whatever it takes?
The first and most obvious difference is that Cano is not as good now as A-Rod was at the same age. Rodriguez hit .321/.421/.610 in his age 29 season and was the AL MVP, with a bWAR of 9.1. Cano hit .313/.379/.550, good for a WAR of 8.2. Rodriguez projected to hit somewhere between .296/.386/.543 (Marcel) and .301/.400/.559 (ZiPS) in his age 30 season and projected to be worth around 6 WAR. Cano projects to hit somewhere in the area of .287/.333/.505 (Davenport) to .305/.363/.530 (Marcel) which would make him worth in the area of 5.0 WAR. Both of these tell us that Cano right now is probably around a win worse than Rodriguez was at the same age.
Now maybe PEDs factor into this and we can expect Cano to hold more of his value going forward. Even in that case, you can probably expect Cano to begin declining. Maybe it won’t happen this year, but it will happen soon.
Let’s run two sets of WAR. One assuming he’s a 5.0 WAR player in 2013 and one assuming he’s a 7.0 WAR player. We’ll also assume he’ll decline by 0.5 wins per season through age 34 (which is pretty conservative) and then 0.7 wins per season afterwards.
WAR1: WAR if he’s a 5.0 WAR player in 2013
WAR2: WAR if he’s a 7.0 WAR player in 2013
tWAR1: total WAR1 through this season
tWAR2: total WAR2 through this season
$WAR1: Total value of tWAR1 if a win is worth $6M
$WAR2: Total value of tWAR2 if a win is worth $6M
It seems to me that anything over six years is a bad idea but I also think $200M is the magic number Cano will be asking Boras to get. So would the Yankees do 8 years and $200M? It would sign Cano through age 38 and very likely into replacement level, but if you think he’s a 6.0 WAR player now and will decline as this assumes it’s about fair market value. In theory by the time Cano is replacement level the other bad contracts should be off the books and if the Yankees have been smarter about building the rest of the team it shouldn’t cripple them.
My guess is the Yankees will hold the line at six years, which is prudent, but which also probably means Cano’s gone at the end of this year.
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