Word is leaking out around the area that the Detroit Tigers are being paid an offseason visit by highly sought after free agent Robinson Cano. I have no certifiable confirmation of this, but the rumors are rampant and whether he is or not, the Tigers are sure to consider the idea. The 31-year old Cano has been a dominant offensive force for the New York Yankees throughout his 9-year big league career while playing a slick 2nd base along the way.
But, didn’t the Tigers just trade for a 2nd baseman? Ian Kinsler has exclusively played 2nd base and as of now is penciled into that slot for the 2014 Tigers.
If the Tigers get all crazy and offer Cano a deal, that means Kinsler might get shifted to 3rd base, pushing Miguel Cabrera back to 1st and leaving Nick Castellanos in left field, a position in which he will struggle defensively. And if they do go get Cano, then they won’t have any money remaining to spend on a power-hitting left fielder and it will compromise the bullpen remodeling project as well.
Another possibility is that Kinsler never suits up in Detroit. If the Tigers are truly in on Cano, then they might have a package lined up to move Kinsler and other pieces for left field or bullpen additions. Again, like the Kinsler/Fielder trade, this creates options.
One thing is certain, the departure of Fielder has left the Tigers with a glaring hole in their lineup – a left-handed, power-hitting bat. Cano is just that. He is as safe a bet to hit over .300 with 25-30 homers and 85-120 RBI’s as anybody in baseball. He is automatic.
And for that pleasure, he is asking for 10 years and $305M for his services, or at least that’s what he’s starting with. And I’m convinced he won’t get it. Giving 10 years to a 31-year old Cano would be as foolish as it was to give ARod and Albert Pujols their extended contracts at an already advanced age. And I think baseball is finally growing wise to this phenomenon.
So what could the Tigers reasonably offer Cano? To me, anything beyond six years is too many, and five would be preferable. I’d much rather see Mike Ilitch pony up more money on a shorter scale than less per year over a longer period of time, whether he’s locking up Max Scherzer or luring in Cano. Five years and $140-150M? Would that be money well spent on a player like Cano?
Carrying that luggage along with Justin Verlander’s ballooning contract and needing to re-sign Miguel Cabrera after 2015 would virtually guarantee that 2014 would be Scherzer’s last with the Tigers.
I admire GM Dave Dombrowski’s willingness to consider anything and everything as he seeks the proper mix for his ballclub. Bringing Cano in for a visit is certainly intriguing.
Just for fun, here is what a potential lineup with Kinsler and Cano might look like, barring no other changes (that are sure to happen):
- Kinsler – 3B
- Hunter – RF
- Cabrera – 1B
- Cano – 2B
- Martinez – DH
- Castellanos – LF
- Avila – C
- Jackson – CF
- Iglesias – SS
It certainly is different and has quite a bit of upside. A move such as adding Cano would be a blockbuster, without a doubt. If the interest is mutual, then Dombrowski must consider if this is the best approach, or if spending on a power-hitting left fielder would be the better move.
Having just shed the Titanic-like contract of Prince Fielder, the Tigers would be foolish to lock into something similar with anyone else, Cano included.
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