Thursday, January 5, 2017
Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano returned to dominance in 2016, belting a career-high 39 home runs, triple-slashing .298/.350/.533 and ranking sixth in all of baseball with an ESPN Wins Above Replacement of 7.3.
Cano is now three seasons into his 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners. And so far — with the exception of the first three months of 2015, when he battled a reported stomach illness and struggled as a result — it’s worked out very well for Seattle.
As has been well-documented, the Yankees could’ve brought Cano back when he became a free agent in 2014. But they opted against offering more than seven years and $175 million to the then 31-year-old All-Star second baseman.
An eight-year, $200 million offer supposedly would’ve done the trick. But the Yankees went in a different direction, giving Jacoby Ellsbury a seven-year, $153 million deal, and deciding to move on from Cano.
I’m pretty sure every team in baseball would have signed 31-year-old Cano for three years and $72M. How many teams would be rushing to sign a 34-year-old Cano for the seven years and $168M that remain on his deal?
You can’t say letting Cano go was a mistake 30% of the way through. As opposed to saying signing Ellsbury was a mistake, which was painfully obvious before the ink was even dry on that Hindenburg of a contract.
Actually, let’s do some quick and dirty math. I’m ignoring bonuses etc., since I want this to be quick and dirty.
Cano’s put up bWAR of 6.4, 3.4 and 7.3 over the last three seasons. Ellsbury has put up 3.3, 1.9 and 2.8. Let’s do a 1/2/3 weighted average and add in some regression towards league average to project them for 2017. I get 5.3 for Cano and 2.5 for Ellsbury. Using a decline of 0.7 bWAR per season for both players means Cano would project to provide about 22.4 bWAR over the remaining 7 years of his contract and Ellsbury would project to provide 5.8 bWAR over the remaining four of his.
22.4bWAR / $168,000,000 = $7.5M/bWAR.
5.8bWAR / $84,571,428 = $14,581,281M/bWAR
How about if we add it all up.
Cano: 17.1 bWAR, $72M in salary
Ellsbury: 8 bWAR, $63M in salary
2014-2023 (actual + projections)
Cano: 39.5 bWAR, $240M in salary, $6.075M / bWAR
Ellsbury: 13.8 bWAR, $148M in salary, $10.724M / bWAR
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