Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Case For a Cano Extension

UPDATE 5:30 PM: FOX SPORTS IS REPORTING THAT THE YANKEE S ARE CLOSE to a four-year, $30 million contract, according to major-league sources. SI IS REPORTING THAT THE DEAL COULD INCLUDE CLUB OPTIONS FOR 2012 AND 2013 THEN THE YANKEES COULD SIGN CANO WITH THE CLUB OPTIONS FOR A POSSIBLE 6 YEARS....HOLY TOLEDO

We are at the point in the offseason where teams are coming to terms with arbitration-eligible players on new contracts, some of which are multi-year deals. Troy Tulowitzki and James Shields have been mentioned already on this site. I have stated that I think this is a good idea, and I believe the Yankees should give Robinson Cano a similar deal, but I have never explained why. Here's why:
First will start with the pros and cons of an extension (for any player, not just Robbie). Players with three, four or five years of service time are eligible for arbitration (so are super two's but I'm keeping this simple; a decent explanation for arbitration rules can be found here). The process begins with the team and player submitting their contract proposal. If they cannot come to an agreement, it goes to arbitration, where an arbiter chooses the offer he sees most fair. Robbie and his agent submitted an offer of $4.55 million, and the Yankees submitted a $3.2 million offer. Cano made $490,800 last year. (Source)
The positives of signing Cano to an extension are: 1. We buy out his remaining arbitration years, and maybe some free agency years (depending on the length of the deal) 2. In a few years, if an extension were not signed, Cano most likely will be making more than he would be under the extension 3. I know, this is similar to number one, but arbitration is a very unpleasant process, so avoiding it is good.
Some negatives: 1. If Cano doesn't pan out as planned, the contract becomes a burden 2. A bigger contract makes him harder to trade (not sure if that's bad) 3. Although saving money in the long term, the Yankees spend more than necessary in the short term.
So this is a risk-reward situation. The question is: Do we have reason to believe Robinson Cano will be an above average second basemen for years to come? If the answer is yes, an extension make sense.
The answer: In my opinion, it's obviously yes.
From Baseball-Reference.com:
Similar Batters:
1. Joe Mauer
2. Hanley Ramirez
Similar Batters Through Age 24:
1. Joe Mauer
2. Tony Lazerri
5. Yogi Berra
6. Bill Dickey
8. Nomar
9.Rod Carew
10. Mickey Cochrane
Most Similar by Age:
22.Joe Mauer
23.Joe Mauer
24.Joe Mauer
Pretty impressive comp's. Not sure why there are so many catchers. Anyway, it looks like a safe bet that Cano continues to improve. He was worth 9.2 wins above replacement level last year, according to BP's WARP1. (That's good.)
So what would be a good offer for Cano? Chase Utley recently signed an extension in a similar situation for 7 years and $85 million. Cano's numbers are worse than Utley's so an ideal contract for Cano would be something like 6yrs/60 mil or 7/70.