Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners for 10 years, $240 million, and the Yankees acquired something equally valuable: sanity.
Congratulations to Robinson Cano, who is now owed $240 million for the expectation that he will play baseball very well for at least part of the next ten years. Congratulations to the Seattle Mariners, for acquiring someone who will likely be one of the best baseball players for another year or three and very good after that (and then just average for the last part when they are still paying him like he’s amazing). And lastly, congratulations to the New York Yankees, who lost their best player, but acquired something equally valuable: sanity.
Yes, the Yankees are getting with the new paradigm, which essentially says that three very good players tends to be better than a superstar, an average player and a scrub. The Oakland Athletics have made the playoffs the last two years over the star-laden Rangers and Angels by having a team packed with average to above average players. The Boston Red Sox rode that philosophy to a World Series win last year with a higher budget version of the same thing. Now the Yankees are giving it a shot by picking off very good players (Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury) and letting their superstar go to a team that is willing to pay him like the Yankees of ten years ago.
It’s a fair trade: the Mariners rocket out of obscurity by spending whatever the hell it takes to get the best free agent available, and the Yankees divorce themselves from an era that continues to burden them with two of the most unwieldy contracts in baseball (Teixiera & A-Rod, pending the ruling on A-Rod’s suspension).
The Yankees will be worse for the next few years, but now that there are many smart teams in baseball, the Yankees can’t just obliterate the competition with endless reams of dollar bills. Cano wanted to be paid like the other Yankee infielders, who signed in the whatever-it’s-just-money years of not that long ago. He found a team willing to do that. A team that has been in the doldrums for so long it’s willing to do something insane to break through.