Maybe this is the "panic" move Jason Churchill got wind of yesterday.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes is reporting that the Mariners are offering Robinson Cano between $230 and $240 million over 10 years, which would tie, or come close, to the deal Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. ESPN Deportes has gotten accurate scoop on Spanish-speaking players before, and there's no reason to believe this leak is anything less than legit.
What's more, Rojas says that while Cano might not have been in Seattle before, he definitely is today. This kind of thing can move pretty fast, so don't be surprised if something gets announced sooner than later. The chances of this happening for Seattlte only go down the longer it takes to hear a decision. The Yankees haven't indicated that they're willing to go over $200 million, so this would kind of deal would firmly place Robinson Cano into an offer he can't refuse territory, unless the Yankees cave and match. That's still a distinct possibility.
This probably hasn't gone down exactly like Cano and Jay-Z wanted, but it seems like it would be bad business for Jay-Z not to get his client the most possible money as for his first major deal. Players want agents who can get them paid above anything else, and here's Jay-Z's chance to shock the world. Cano might not really want to leave New York, but the Mariners seem to be doing everything they can to convince him otherwise, and there's no question he's listening now if he wasn't before or he wouldn't be in Seattle. Maybe those 1/1 Vegas odds weren't so crazy after all.
There should still be a healthy dose of skepticism to this report, but we now know a few things that make this Cano saga a whole lot more legitimate than anything ever was with Prince Fielder. This is the third meeting with Cano's team, and the first visit from Cano himself. The last two have happened within a few days of each other. Things are moving, fast.
Let's talk about the money, because it is insane. Completely batshit nuts. But I don't find myself caring that much how reckless it is. If they're willing to go all out for Cano, they're trying to win, now. Make a statement. More money will be spent, and more players will be acquired. The amount they owe in 2014 is nothing compared to where we know they can be. Still, $230 million is a crazy amount of money, and you might think the Mariners are crazy to spend it. Out of over 2400 votes yesterday, only 17% of you voted for $230 million or higher as an acceptable contract offer. Now that it's on the table, do you still agree?
Moving massive contracts has not been a problem for Major League teams in recent years, as long as that player is good. Robinson Cano is very good. Very, very good. Top five in WAR over the last five years good. He's likely to hold quite a bit of value for a number of years, and if things are headed in the wrong direction for the Mariners after a few years, the team can probably swallow $50 million and trade him away. It's not all that different than what the Tigers just did with Price Fielder, or what the Red Sox did with Adrian Gonzalez, or the Marlins with Jose Reyes. Salary dump trades are commonplace now, and an albatross doesn't have to be one if you bail before it gets to disaster territory. There's plenty of worse case scenarios here, where Cano tanks and they can't trade him, or they can't find any suitors. It's a risk.
This franchise is desperate to change their perception around the league, and Robinson Cano is one of just a few true superstars to ever hit free agency, let alone consider signing in Seattle. The opportunity to bring in somebody as huge as Robinson Cano just doesn't happen very often, and the chances don't usually align with so much payroll flexibility. It's the perfect storm, and that's why the Mariners are trying so hard to get this done, now.
Yesterday, one of my biggest problems with a proposed David Price trade is that the Mariners just can't make a deal like that before they know if they're going to be able to get free agents to justify going for it in Price's two year contract window. Signing Robinson Cano would change things instantly, and from Z's comments yesterday, it sounds like it would only be the beginning. We're in for a wild offseason, especially if Cano is on board.
Sign me up for 10 years, $230 million. That deal is going to look terrible at the end whether it's $180 million or $230 million, and this is the team's one shot to show the rest of the world that they are serious players willing to pony up and compete, now. It matters for future free agents. The cost per win is going up anyways, and that kind of contract might not look as crazy in three years as it does today.
It's easy to say that the Mariners should spend $230 million across several assets, but who knows if they'll be able to be successful in luring the right free agents in order to achieve that optimal spread of assets? If this is real, and if this can happen, it's very different than a theoretical scenario. Something tangible has more value, and should be treated as such. Besides, how much confidence should we have that the Mariners would allocate that money correctly? They haven't earned my trust. Shouldn't the M's overpay for something unquestionably great instead of other, lesser talents that Jack Zduriencik thinks are good?
I've always said that if the team decides to go out and ridiculously overpay for somebody, it should at least be somebody great. That's Robinson Cano. The Mariners can't let him leave without a deal, because signing him early shapes the rest of the offseason. Let's get nuts.