With the news that broke early this morning about how the night of negotiations ended between Robinson Cano, his agent Jay-Z and the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, the possibility of him signing with the M's seemed dim. So dim, in fact, that I took the overnight news as a sign that any negotiations could possibly be completely dead, and maybe that they were never even legit in the first place. But as the morning wore on, word started spreading that negotiations were still active between the two sides. And now, although Seattle has not officially announced his signing, numerous outlets have confirmed the initial Twitter report by Enrique Rojas of ESPN that Cano has agreed to sign a 10-year, $240 million dollar contract to join the Seattle Mariners, later said to include a full no-trade clause.
#Mariners and Cano agree. $240 million/10 years. Physical next monday in Seattle— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) December 6, 2013
"We are not able to confirm any news regarding Robinson Cano at this time. If and when an agreement is completed and finalized, we will announce." - Mariners statement
That overall contract figure ties Cano for the third largest contract in MLB history with the deal that was signed by Albert Pujols a few seasons ago when he joined the AL West-rival Angels. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal called the signing, "The strangest move by a free agent since [Alex] Rodriguez signed with the Rangers after the 2000 season." That may be true, but more importantly than being strange for Seattle and its fans, it sends a message that the Seattle Mariners are through playing runner-up.
Cano has finished in the top-6 (3rd in 2010, 6th in '11, 4th in '12 and 5th in '13) in the voting for American League MVP in each of the last four seasons for the Yankees, averaging 194 hits, 29 home runs and 107 RBIs over that period while slashing .312/.373/.533 for the Bronx Bombers. And since becoming an everyday player seven years ago he has proven incredibly resilient and reliable, as he has played in 1,120 of a possible 1,134 for New York, the second highest number in the major leagues behind only Prince Fielder. Since 2007, he's third in baseball in hits with 1329, eighth in baseball in fWAR at 34.4, and his .371 wOBA, .866 OPS and 127 OPS+ over that time are among the best in baseball. He's done all of that while winning two Gold Gloves for his play at second base, making four All-Star Games and winning four Silver Slugger Awards.
There is no question that Seattle is getting one of the elite players currently in the major leagues with this deal for the left-handed hitting Cano. The question that is spreading like wild fire across the internet and across radio airwaves is if this dollar figure and contract length represents a wise investment for Seattle or not. Cano is 31 and the 10-year deal will pay him an average of $24 million through his age 40 season. Mariners' legend Edgar Martinez posted a 9.5 fWAR over his 38, 39 and 40-year-old seasons for Seattle, but that was a different time for baseball, and players performing into their late-30s isn't a given anymore, no matter how talented they appear.
The other part to that question lies in what else Seattle is able to do over the remainder of this off-season to add to Cano and their returning in-house players. The club won just 71 games in 2013 and has averaged just 71.8 wins a season while scoring the fewest runs in the majors -- 2,952 -- since Jack Zduriencik came on as the team's General Manager. Dimensions were changed at Safeco Field before the 2013 season to make the park more hitter-friendly, but Seattle still ranked 12th in the 15-team American League for scoring at home. For his part, Cano has hit well in Seattle for his career to this point, slashing .309/.350/.487 in 40 career games and 163 plate appearances. Seattle struggled badly against left-handed pitching last season, combining for an MLB-worst .657 OPS versus southpaws. But Cano, unlike some of the other left-handed hitting options on the market, has fared quite well against lefties for his career, hitting them to the tune of .290/.340/.450.
But regardless of how good Cano can do in 2013 and beyond for Seattle, he won't be able to do it alone. The Mariners are said to be in active discussions for a number of free agents and also with multiple clubs in trade scenarios. The club appears to be going "all-in" with this move for Cano, but they need to add more players still to improve the roster. That may end up costing some of the top prospects for the Mariners (and that would really screw up my Top-50 countdown), but it could very well prove worth it. Cano is unquestionably the new second baseman, so that could effect Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley or even Brad Miller. Even if they lose some of their top young big league players or those on the farm, Seattle's 1st round pick -- 6th overall -- is protected, so their imminent signing of Cano will only cost them their 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft, meaning they are in good shape to add another top-flight talent to the system this coming summer.
Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners. An unlikely pairing, but a very exciting pairing for the city and fans of Seattle.
Looking for more Mariners news, articles and player interviews? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse site Editor Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.