How Robinson Cano’s deal affects Tigers
No, the Tigers were never going to sign Robinson Cano. They never had a meeting with Cano, despite the speculative story that came out a couple weeks ago. They hadn’t even been talking with Cano’s agents, centered around Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, on the phone since the offseason got rolling. They weren’t going to take on that contract.
With that part out of the way, Cano’s reported 10-year, $240 million deal to go to Seattle is about to have ripple effects in Detroit with what the Tigers are trying to do.
For one, it throws the Yankees headfirst into the remaining free-agent market with money to spend and needs to fill. It’s not just about replacing Cano at second base, but filling his spot in the middle of the order. They can fill the void with some of the remaining outfielders on the market, with Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo around the top of the list.
Speculation already had New York among the top targets for Beltran, and a potential suitor for Choo. The Yankees can now go in with no shortage of money to offer. If they want to price teams out of the market and leverage their financial flexibility to get who they want, they can. If they want to move the market to the point where teams like the Tigers worry whether they’re adding another megacontract, they can.
That’s the immediate impact. The bigger impact might be down the road whenever the Tigers enter talks on a contract extension for Miguel Cabrera, the potentially the next guy that could move the market. If a 31-year-old Cano can match Albert Pujols for the largest contract signed by a baseball player not named Alex Rodriguez, what can Cabrera — six months younger and a two-time MVP, playing a position with more longevity — command? How will Cabrera age through his 30s? And can the Tigers create enough flexibility to afford Cabrera and Max Scherzer? That’s how the market works — the latest megadeal often sets the standard for the next one.
So to recap: Even with the flexibility gained by shedding Prince Fielder’s contract and saving money in the rotation by trading Doug Fister, keeping the core of this team together is not going to be easy. And with the Tigers and Yankees now potentially looking for the same help, trying to upgrade for a World Series run now just got tougher. It might be a crazy week at the Winter Meetings after all, at least on the latter.