Friday, December 13, 2013

Cano Felt Disrespected By Yankees

Apart of the news coming from Cano's introduction as a Mariner, is that he felt disrespected by the Yankees throughout the negotiations.  The basic issue was that the Yankees never offered above 7 years, $175 million, which was a solid offer, but when you're comparing that against a 10 year, $240 million contract, it's easy to see which team wants you more.  Being a Mariner does not have the same impact as being a Yankee, and allegedly, being in New York can only help your endorsement deals.  However, not paying income tax in Washington allows Cano to hold onto more of that money, and winning teams tend to bring in endorsement deals for their star players. 

Now there is this enduring myth in baseball about player loyalty to teams.  It goes back to a time before free agency, when baseball players stayed with the same team their entire careers (unless they were traded), because well, the teams controlled the players.  Now, teams control the players for about 6 years.  After that, the players are free to test their value on the open market.  Not all players chase the largest contract.  Cliff Lee spurned the larger offer by the Yankees to play in Philadelphia, and Dustin Pedroia famously accepted a well-below average contract for his services to stay in Boston.  But do not be deceived.  Both players are being paid over $100 million to play baseball, and in Lee's case, it's not like he took the lowest offer.

The myth of player loyalty to teams is built on two false premises.  First, there's the idea that this team drafted you, developed you, and made you a star, so now you're turning your back on them by signing elsewhere.  The reason this is a false premise, is that the team drafted you because of the value they believed you could have to their team.  They weren't loyal to the player, they were interested in their talent.  If the player struggles, they are cut.  Plain and simple.  And whether they're performing or not, this player can be traded at any time at the whims of the team.  It's a business, and and the teams loyalty is to the company.  The only reason a player makes it to the big leagues is because they perform, and the only reason they become a star, is because they continue to perform once they make it to the big leagues.  Their performance at the big league level makes the team a lot of money.  That's the reason they remain on the team.  If they do not perform, then trust that the team has no enduring loyalty to that player.  If the player is worth less than their roster spot, then that player will no longer be on the team.  So when that player becomes a free agent, there is no reason to believe that they owe their team anything beyond an opportunity to listen to their offer. 

Now, in some cases if a player feels particular loyalty to a team, they may feel compelled to give a home town discount if the money for the large contract just isn't there.  But this is because the player is placing value on other considerations (playing for the team closest to their home, or they're on a small market team that they've come to like).  Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox who are ranked as the 1st and 3rd most valuable baseball franchises respectively with a net worth in the billions, should not be given home town discounts.  Their financial success is based on the performance of the players.  As the Yankees learned last year, and the Red Sox the year before, fans don't suffer the cost of $10 beers to watch a losing team. 

The second premise is more of a perception.  We, the fans, view the team from the perspective of fans.  So we expect the players to have the same loyalty to the team that we do.  But none of us would accept this premise for our own lives.  If you were hired by a company out of college, trained by them, and given the opportunity to advance, then another company comes and offers to up your pay 100%, are you saying that you would stay with your company out of loyalty?  Especially knowing that your company won't match that offer, even though the work you're doing for them is making them mounds of money?  Get out of here!  You may be willing to negotiate a pay raise where you still accept less money, but you won't take a substantial pay cut just to stay with them.  We can have undying loyalty to our teams, but we can't expect their employees to feel the same.  It's a different relationship altogether.

And this is what bothers me about what CC Sabathia said:

“Just a player like that, putting on the pinstripes, and being able to play your whole career in New York means something – to me, obviously....It didn’t mean that much to him (referring to Cano)."

CC Sabathia came to the Yankees not because he wanted to be a Yankee, but because we outbid the closest team by $40 million.  Then let's not forget how he asked for an opt out clause in case his family wasn't adjusting to New York, only to then exercise it so he could get an extension, and more money.  Putting on pinstripes only meant something to Sabathia because of the millions of dollars they paid him to put them on.  Ironically, the extra $65 million Seattle was willing to pay Cano, was enough to make him value putting on a Mariners cap.  Funny how that works.


Rich Mahogany said...

Playing for the Yankees is supposed to be the ultimate baseball experience, yet no one ever takes a pay cut to play for them. Pettitte once took less money than the Yankees offered to play for the Astros because he believed the Astros showed him more respect (sound familiar)? Torre said the Yankees' offer to keep him as the highest-paid manager in baseball was insulting. Rivera said one of the Yankees' contract offers was insulting. Jeter said he was insulted when the Yankees attempted to negotiate with him. Maybe it's not that much fun to be a Yankee after all.

Rich Mahogany said...

The Yankees lost Infante to the Royals over a one year, $6 million difference in contract offers, and still have no one to play second base. If the Yankees suspected they would not retain Cano, it would have been nice for them to come up with a backup plan.