Robinson Cano is aiming for one of the biggest contracts in baseball history as a free agent this winter, and it’s safe to say he’ll end up a very, very wealthy man. Still, two pieces of news today haven’t helped his cause at all.
Most will point to Dustin Pedroia’s seemingly under-market seven-year, $100 million extension with the Red Sox as a problem for Cano. Since Pedroia was already under control for 2014 and ’15, the new contract essentially amounts to a six-year extension worth $15 million per year, which is about half as much annually as Cano is going to be gunning for in a few months. Being that Pedroia is a $20 million-$25 million player right now, it seems like quite a bargain.
Personally, I don’t think Pedroia’s deal has any bearing on Cano’s situation. The two are comparable players, but their situations weren’t at all alike. The biggest factor here is that Pedroia was already under control for two more years; the Red Sox had little reason to pay him market value to get a deal done now. And regardless of whether a Pedroia extension could be worked out, the Red Sox weren’t going to be suitors for Cano this winter.
No, the potentially much bigger problem for Cano’s camp is that the Dodgers have reportedly signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a seven-year, $32 million contract, likely to play second base. The Dodgers are, right now, the richest team in baseball and they presented Cano with the most attractive alternative to the Yankees in free agency this winter. Of course, they still might; the Dodgers are so loaded that they could still sign Guerrero and make a huge bid for Cano later. After all, they didn’t let the $42 million Yasiel Puig signing prevent them from taking on Carl Crawford’s contract last year. But their desire for a second baseman will hinge on how Guerrero looks these next two months. Maybe he’ll be impressive enough defensively to warrant a move back to shortstop.
There’s certainly no reason to cry for Cano. Even if he can’t play the Dodgers off the Yankees, he’ll still get $25 million per year. But his hopes of a $200 million deal may hinge on another team stepping up, and typical big spenders like the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Tigers and Phillies could all sit this one out.
Update: Guerrero’s agent has denied that there’s an agreement in place, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. He says there are still three teams in the mix.
Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero, who defected and set up shop in the Dominican Republic back in January, has inked a seven-year, $32 million contract with the Dodgers, according to ESPN Desportes’ Dionisio Soldevila.
Before sitting out the 2012-13 season, Guerrero was one of Cuba’s best players and it’s best offensive middle infielder. He hit .338/.408/.641 in 2009, .343/.414/.583 in 2010 and .310/.400/.599 in 2011, amassing a total of 60 homers in 886 at-bats between the three seasons. His numbers aren’t quite up to par with what Jose Abreu, Alfredo Despaigne, Yulieski Gourriel and Frederich Cepeda have done in the Cuba, but they’re a match for those that Yoenis Cespedes put up before defecting.
Guerrero probably won’t hit for quite the same kind of power in the larger ballparks of the U.S., and his numbers defensively at shortstop were nothing special. A move to second base may have been needed anyway, and reports are already suggesting that the Dodgers are looking at him as a long-term replacement for Mark Ellis in the lineup. Since he hasn’t played lately, he’ll begin his Dodgers career in the minors. However, if he finds his swing in a hurry, he could contribute this year.
The New York Post reports that the Yankees are close to bringing Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx, with the Cubs getting a mid-level prospect in return.
Cash would facilitate the deal. Soriano is owed about $7 million for the rest of this year and then $18 million in the final year of his eight-year, $136 millon contract next year. The Yankees will again take advantage of the luxury-tax loophole that allowed them to add Vernon Wells from the Angels and still aid their chances of coming in under the tax threshold next year.
Soriano can’t help but improve the Yankees; their right-handed batters have hit a pathetic .221/.284/.309 with 24 homers in 1,438 at-bats this season. Soriano has 17 homers to go along with a .256/.286/.471 line in 359 at-bats. The plan could be for Soriano to play left field now and then take over as the primary DH once Curtis Granderson comes off the disabled list. Travis Hafner, who is hitting .183 in 197 at-bats since April 28, could be released when that happens.
At 37, Soriano isn’t nearly the same player he was in his first go with the Yankees. In 2002, his second full season, he hit .300 with 39 homers and 41 steals, leading the AL with 128 runs scored. In 2003, he hit .290 with 38 homers and 35 steals. That winter, the Yankees traded him to the Rangers in the Alex Rodriguez deal. Soriano went to the All-Star Game five more times afterwards, but that streak concluded in 2008 and he hasn’t been back since. Now in his 15th season, Soriano is a lifetime .273/.321/.504 hitter with 389 homers and 1,086 RBI.