Friday, December 13, 2013

Cano Felt Disrespected By Yankees after Yankees Disrespected Him

At his introductory press conference, Robinson Cano claimed the Yankees made no effort to retain him and that they disrespected him. A lot of people will complain, seeing just another self-indulgent athlete, and say that they would love to be disrespected with $175 million, but this misses two key points.

First, you are not Robinson Cano. You are not the best second baseman in baseball and on a Hall of Fame trajectory. You work at a desk, or maybe standing, just not standing at second base for a major league baseball team. $175 million to you would be a gross overpayment relative the economic value you produce in return. That is not the case with Cano.

Which brings us to the second point. $175 million, in baseball, is not a lot of money. It sounds like a lot of money to everybody else, partly because wages have stagnated in this country since the '70s and partly because it is $175 million. But within the framework of baseball economics, it is not a lot of money for a player of Cano's caliber, especially when players like Ellsbury are getting $153 million and players like Hughes are getting contracts at all.

The teams have a lot of cash right now, cash generated by the players. Cano is one of the best players in the game, and so he deserves to be paid like it. In an era where salaries are continuing to rise, his deal is not that gargantuan. Believe me, in the next five years, more than one player will surpass it.

Offering Cano $175 million is at best willfully ignorant of the value he generates for the team. Some will say people didn't come out to watch Cano last year when he was the main attraction, but I think that's unfair. The Yanks were losing in a town used to seeing them win at least 94 games a year. Add completely irrational Yankee Stadium ticket prices to the mix and there was bound to be a drop in interest. I went to a few games last season, and watched many on television, and the only players I really cared about were Cano and later Soriano.

But back to the issue at hand, the $175 million offer. It was an insult. It was a thorough undervaluation for the only durable and productive player that has performed consistently for the Yankees for quite sometime. Cano and his agents negotiate on behalf of Cano's business and financial interests. Cano was going to get a contract starting with a '2', which means the Yankees were at least trying to get a 12.5% discount. Considering he ended up with $240 million, the Yankees' offer meant a 27% undervaluation. Sure, the market hadn't produced the $240 million figure yet, and many would say that offer itself is an overvaluation, but in this league, with its current economic state, the Yankees were basically asking Cano to play for them, a team willing to devalue him to his face, for a discount.

Cano is a baseball player, not Wal-Mart. He doesn't do rollback sales. He gets paid to play baseball. The team he had played for was busy painting him as a greedy person who only cared about money as they tried to hold onto as much of theirs as they could. Why would he give them an almost 30% discount? Or even 12.5%?

We can pretend that we prefer the Pedroia's of the world, players who take less money to stay with one franchise, but the Pedroia deal has to look completely idiotic at this point. Think about it, Dustin Pedroia has a worse contract than Jacoby Ellsbury. By choice. And why? So he can be associated with the same corporate entity (the Boston Red Sox) for his entire career. That's completely stupid.

Cano was not stupid, and the Yankees were disrespectful in their approach to him. They frankly wasted his time and should have simply said we're moving in a different direction because we've decided we don't want to spend what it is likely going to cost to retain you. Instead they tried to bully him and diminish his value through the press by blaming him for their declining ticket sales. Disrespectful.


Rich Mahogany said...

The Yankees might have wasted Cano's time if they did not make a firm offer and told him to wait for one. They did the opposite. They gave him an offer, said it was the most they would give him, said they would not go over $189 million in payroll, and proceeded to sign other players. This approach was only "disrespectful" if refusing to increase their offer was disrespectful. I think it wasn't. The Yankees assigned a certain value to Cano and would not go above that value. That's business, not disrespect.

In fact, they might have honestly believed that $175 million would be Cano's best offer. No one saw the Mariners paying $240 million, and I think they were crazy to do that.

It comes off as strange and disconcerting when the Yankees get outbid, especially by so much. Typically it's the Yankees blowing everyone else out of the water to land Sabathia, Teixeira, post opt-out ARod, and even more marginal players like Rafael Soriano. But it happened with Cano, and it will happen again. Maybe if the Yankees hadn't given so much money to those other guys they could have given Cano $240 million, but they have to draw the line somewhere and it's just unfortunate they did it with Cano.

MaxtheBullTerrier said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roberto E. Alejandro said...

Imagine you wanted to buy a company valued at X, a company that wasn't in some sort of trouble and thus needed saving, and offered 12.5%-30% less than it was worth. Would the owners or board of that company think you were serious? No one necessarily expected Cano to get $240 million, but the idea that the Mariners might make a big splash has been out there for some time. Further, the disrespect is not only in the figure offered, but in the public comments about Cano. Those two things combined were disrespectful.

As for Max, you are free to disagree, but we don't tolerate insults here. Leave the tough internet guy stuff for other blogs. Plus, the whole Cano is lazy thing is just nonsense, the guy is one of the best players in baseball and didn't become that being lazy. He may jog to first, but how many other Yankees started 160 games last year while putting up his numbers? Nobody. And no, not wanting to have to find a new job at 37 is not ridiculous, he may be paid but not many people plan to stop working at age 37 and most people like the idea of job security, even if you don't.

Alas, I have to delete your comment. I don't really mind the cursing but I'm not going to tolerate commenter attacks against us or other commenters. Sorry, this is a space for grown ups.

Rich Mahogany said...

What were the public comments about Cano?

I think there are three important questions here:

Will the Yankees' treatment of Cano make it more difficult to retain or attract talent?

Probably not, because the Yankees already had to outspend everyone else to retain and attract talent. I can't think of anyone who took less money to go to, or stay with, the Yankees. Not even Jeter (who, in fact, has done the opposite). Players don't make sacrifices to play for the Yankees.

Would Cano have accepted less money from the Yankees if they had shown him more "respect"?

Who knows, but probably not. The best sales pitch in the world probably isn't going to be worth $40-65 million.

Should the Yankees have outbid Seattle for Cano?

No. There are no sure-thing players in their 30s. Pujols is the best example of that - a surefire HOF-bound player at one of the easiest positions, whose 10-year contract became an albatross in year 2. A $240 million deal for Cano is already very risky, an even bigger contract would be crazy.

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

The public comments were the "Cano loves money" and the anonymous "No one came out to see Cano last year" comments. Even the Reds were peeved by the Yankees and accused them of leaking the Philips trade rumor, which is hardly disrespectful but does speak to how the Yanks currently do business. They were the same way with Jeter when he signed his last multi-year deal, telling him publicly to go shop around if he didn't feel he was getting a fair offer. Jeter made it known he didn't care for that, and while you can certainly argue that the Yanks should not have upped their offer to Cano, or even paid Jeter as much as they did in the aforementioned deal, there is still a trend of trying to publicly demean players they supposedly have an interest in and who are franchise faces.

I think you're right that at some point the Mariners's offer would've been difficult to refuse, but the Yanks could've say offered something like 8 years, $200 million. Still under 10 years, but more than they are giving the lesser Ellsbury in both years and obviously dollars. It may not have been enough, but it would've felt more like they wanted Cano to be a life-long Yankee rather than viewing him like any other player: expendable if he doesn't perform.

That's fine to view players like that too, as long as you don't go around talking about the value of being a life-long Yankee and accusing players of caring more about money than the team. At that point you're being both duplicitous and disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

So Cano and his agents didn't disrespect the Yankees when right out of the gate they let it be known that they were looking for 310 million. A number btw that they only got 75% of.

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

It's part of any negotiation to start with one figure you expect no one to accept and move from there. The difference is 1, the Yankees never budged and gave far too similar money to a far lesser player. Frankly, that's fine, but then they also went out and spoke about Cano in a way that made it seem like he owed it to them to re-sign at whatever they thought was fair (which in this case was a low-ball offer that served the Yankees' luxury tax interest) and that Cano was somehow greedy for not immediately accepting. It's one thing to make a ridiculous initial offer (both sides did), but it's another to make that offer, paint the other party in an unflattering light, and then pretend that far lesser offer was a real attempt to re-sign him. It wasn't.

Rich Mahogany said...

"Cano loves the money" was unacceptable, and I didn't know about the "no one came out to see Cano" comment. No one came out to see the Yankees play mediocre baseball, period.

I agree that the Yankees should never have said anything like that. It was their double standard - opening their wallets for everyone else, but begrudging Cano for seeking full market value - that was disrespectful. But in the end it really does just comes down to the money. Cashman said that Cano would have accepted 10 years, $235 million from the Yankees, and if that's true, he felt respected enough to keep playing for them.

With Cano, the Yankees showed they don't know how to handle a homegrown elite player who is entering free agency. But it's not really a problem, because the Yankees won't have any more players like Cano for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Yankees' attitude toward their players is ridiculous. I am still mad about what they did to Jeter. At that time, they were disrespectful toward the face of the team and THE reason 90% of heterosexual women fans come to the stadium at all. Now, they did the same to Cano. Cano was smart to pack and leave. If they could pay so much money for a player Yankees fans can care less, like Ellsbury, I don't understand why they couldn't make a better offer to Cano. I truly think that it's time for Cash to go.