Robinson Cano Randy Levine Seinfeld
“You’re running around looking for something that’s not even there, and everything you dream of is right here, right here in front of you.”

As Robinson Cano and the Yankees reportedly remain far apart in their negotiations, some basic math makes it very clear that both sides need each other.

Cano needs the Yankees because they’ll likely offer more money than any other team, especially with Hal/Levine’s proficiency in bidding against themselves. The Yankees need Cano because without their superstar second baseman, they have no chance of serious contention – no matter who else they sign in free agency.

Keep in mind the Yankees are really dealing from the deck of a sub-.500 baseball team. They were outscored by 21 runs over the course of last season, which means they were a losing team. Their 85 game win total was largely the result of an MLB-best winning percentage in one-run games (65.2%). Whether you chalk this up to luck and/or bullpen strength, that’s not repeatable, nor do you build a team around winning one-run games. Thus, in reality, the Yankees had the quality of a 79-80 win team last season, not 85. That’s the true base the front office is attempting to improve upon.

Over the last 3 seasons, Robinson Cano has been the 4th-most valuable position player in MLB, totaling 19.1 wins above replacement level. For those not sabermetrically-inclined, that basically means Cano is responsible for 6 wins on his own each year. If he moves on to the next one, the Yankees would then be working from a base of a 73-75 win team — and this assumes they’re able to replace the production of Pettitte, Kuroda, and Mariano, which gave them nearly 9 wins above replacement. If they can’t replace that production, then the base is even lower.

The overall point is that the Yankees need Cano to simply maintain their overall quality level from last season. You don’t need to be an advanced stats person to know that. It’s just common sense. It’s the upgrades around Cano that will push the team closer to contention. That’s why we’ve stated the Yankees will need to blow past the Hal-Cap™ if they want to be serious contenders. They need to keep Cano, replace the production from departing players (like Pettitte, etc.), AND make upgrades elsewhere!

Since the front office has backed itself into a corner and chosen not to rebuild, it is left facing the reality that losing Cano will make the hole too deep.