With the end of the Major League Baseball season getting closer, Robinson Cano and the Yankees are approaching the time when they’ll have to stop waiting to talk about Cano’s free agent status and start doing something about it.
The Yankees have said they want to bring back Cano, who has been arguably New York’s most valuable player this season. As the Yankees have dealt with injuries across their lineup — many of which can be attributed to the team being stocked with aging, declining players — it’s become apparent what a key piece Cano is to keeping the Yankees’ offense afloat.
But the Yankees have been less than 100 percent committed to signing Cano at market value, which is expected to be high for an elite second baseman. While the team made Cano an offer last offseason, the Yankees have also been vocal about their efforts to stay below the $189 million luxury tax threshold, which means they may not want to give Cano the huge contract he could get from another team.
With Cano leading the Yankees regulars in batting average (.308), hits (167), home runs (26), RBIs (98) and OPS (.892), team president Randy Levine reiterated that stance Tuesday.
“The Yankees are the Yankees. We’ve been around for a long time,” Levine told Bloomberg Television, according to the Daily News. “I think our fan base understands that we’re going to put a championship-caliber team on the field. Robinson Cano is a great player. We will sit down and talk to him. Hopefully he’s a Yankee.
“Nobody is a re-sign at all costs, but we want him back, and we feel good about negotiating something with him. But nobody is a re-sign at any cost.”
When asked about Levine’s comments, Cano reiterated that he’s waiting to think about free agency.
“Let’s just see what happens when the season is over,” he said, according to the Daily News. “There’s nothing I can say. Right now, I’m not paying attention to any of that. We have 18 games left, so that’s my focus right now. We’ll see what happens when that day comes.”
The Yankees are fighting to stay alive in the wild card race. While they’ve all but lost the American League East crown to the Red Sox, who are 10 1/2 games ahead, the Yankees (77-68) are in a tight cluster in the standings with five other teams for the two American League wild card spots.
Levine said Tuesday that the reason the Yankees have struggled this year is injuries and that the team doesn’t need to spend a lot to have success.
“Payroll has never translated into winning,” he said. “What translates into winning is great talent. If you look at this year, some great stories, the Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates, low payroll teams right in there, possible championship-caliber teams. We are taking a look at getting down to 189 [million dollars], which has got tremendous financial incentives under the new collective bargaining agreement. But as Hal Steinbrenner has consistently said and as I have said, it has to be consistent with maintaining a championship team.”
Whether the Yankees can have a championship team without Cano is the debate at hand.