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Baseball's No. 1 free agent ... in 2014

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08:13 AM ET 02.11 | Among a group that may include such headlining arms as Adam Wainwright and Josh Johnson, it's a bat at the top of the list. As the 2012-13 offseason winds down, we've already got an eye on players scheduled to reach free agency after the 2013 campaign. The full list can be found here; enjoy our first entry in the new 2014 Free Agents Power Rankings series below. 1. Robinson Cano. Cano is the clear number one choice, a corner type bat at a middle infield position. 2014 will be his age 31 season, and agent Scott Boras is surely licking his chops with an eight-year megacontract in the $200MM range within his sights. Should the Yankees allow Cano to reach the open market, I expect the Dodgers to be players.

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February 11, 2013  09:47 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

No way NY should give him 8 + yearsHaven't the steinbrenners and cash learned about overpaying on the back ends of deals?Give him 5 years 125. A nice overinflated SHORTER dealTake it or leave it....

I don't see 5 years 125 getting it done. They will need to go at least 6 years, maybe even 7 @ $23M to even have a chance. With Jeter getting older as we speak, Arod done, Tex looking like he's 40 years old, Grandy leaving as well, and very little out there in the free agent market, they need to keep Cano.

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February 11, 2013  10:27 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

yes-but they have SO much $ invested in guys over the next 3-4 years who are already in decline Its time to stop with the crazy long dealsI agree that they may need to go 6-but that is IT.these contracts, long term do not work- we have seen that all over MLB.Also - if they don't sign cano- they can use that $ to sign 2-3 good players

The problem is most teams are locking up the good players who are worth the money, before they reach free agency.

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February 11, 2013  10:53 AM ET

2014 will be his age 31 season

Happy Chinese New Year to you too!

February 11, 2013  11:40 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

No way NY should give him 8 + yearsHaven't the steinbrenners and cash learned about overpaying on the back ends of deals?Give him 5 years 125. A nice overinflated SHORTER dealTake it or leave it....

I'm ok with 5 years but nothing more than that. He's already past his peak and that 5th year will be age 36.

But there's more $$$ and years to be had and Boras knows it. The Yanks have enough crippling contracts - let Cano walk if he doesn't like 5/$125. I would even go 5/$140 if Cano would accept 5 years.

February 11, 2013  11:50 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

I don't see 5 years 125 getting it done. They will need to go at least 6 years, maybe even 7 @ $23M to even have a chance. With Jeter getting older as we speak, Arod done, Tex looking like he's 40 years old, Grandy leaving as well, and very little out there in the free agent market, they need to keep Cano.

I agree that Cano is not taking 5 years.

That said, even if the Yankees are willing to give Cano the years he wants, I don't know how the Yankees can keep Cano without going over the $189 mil threshold next year.

They already have$ 87 million guaranteed next year just for A-Rod, CC, Tex, Jeter and Ichiro. If Cano gets $25 mil/year, that puts them at $112 mil for 6 players.

That leaves $77 mil to fill out of the rest of the roster including gaping holes in the outfield (Granderson) rotation (Kuroda, Hughes) and closer. I don't see any way this could even happen without all of Scranton-Wilkesbury reporting to Tampa in February.

February 11, 2013  11:53 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

I don't see any way this could even happen without all of Scranton-Wilkesbury reporting to Tampa in February.

<consults Astros' free agent handbook>

February 11, 2013  12:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

No way NY should give him 8 + yearsHaven't the steinbrenners and cash learned about overpaying on the back ends of deals?Give him 5 years 125. A nice overinflated SHORTER dealTake it or leave it....

take it or leaved,,but should boras agree with you?? at the end,the problem is not cano himself but boras all alone,,,

February 11, 2013  12:03 PM ET

but yes,,short term deal is better than any long term contract,,flip quarters to AROD,,

February 11, 2013  02:15 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

right- and they are locking them up at the proper time-when they are in their 20'snot after they turn 30if the PEDs era is 'over' guys won't be playing until they are 40Just cause we need him right now-over extending him til he's 39 is not smartPay him 30 mil per for 5 years.....but don't go 7+ at 22-25 perI don't mind overpaying in the short run- but not overextending

The Yankees are in a lose-lose situation. Cano is their one good player that's still in his prime. The rest of the roster are over the hill veterans or non-impact role players. If they let him walk, which may be the correct financial decision, then the Yankees are basically in a transition mode for the next few years until those other albatross contracts come off the book. There's nobody they can sign or trade for that even comes close to replacing Cano.

If they do give him the 8 years that Boras would want, then the Yankees are still a viable playoffs contender for the next few years. However, the backend of the contract will suck. Any of these long-term contracts have a trade off. The question is would your rather have an all-star player in his prime for the first half of the contract and then just accept the fact that the second half of the contract the player will be overpaid. Or do you give up those 4 prime years and let the player walk. It's not an easy decision to make. It really depends on what the organizational philosophy is. Is it to win now at all costs or to try to build a viable team for the long haul and not take too many risks.

We can all agree that ARod's contract is a joke. However, the Yankees probably don't win in '09 without him. So if you're a Yankee fan, would you give up the '09 title in exchange for getting rid of ARod's contract? Is one World Series title more important or the payroll flexibility? I'm not sure the answer would be unanimous. I personally would lean towards giving up the title.

February 11, 2013  02:37 PM ET

Also, you have to keep in mind that these GMs don't have the luxury we do to look 8-10 years down the line. They may not even have a job by the time they have to worry about the backend of these long contracts if they don't win now. The economics of the sport is what it is. All-star type players who are still young will get long contracts from somebody. So you have two options - you can either sit tight and never sign those players and just build from within and sign short-term deals, like the Rays or the Red Sox (this year); or you can go be like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels and go for it all. There're pros and cons to each approach, and you can win with either, with the right moves and a little luck.

 
February 11, 2013  02:52 PM ET
QUOTE(#19):

Also, you have to keep in mind that these GMs don't have the luxury we do to look 8-10 years down the line. They may not even have a job by the time they have to worry about the backend of these long contracts if they don't win now. The economics of the sport is what it is. All-star type players who are still young will get long contracts from somebody. So you have two options - you can either sit tight and never sign those players and just build from within and sign short-term deals, like the Rays or the Red Sox (this year); or you can go be like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels and go for it all. There're pros and cons to each approach, and you can win with either, with the right moves and a little luck.

Good points. I'm curious to see how the Red Sox will do moving forward now that they've adopted this new philosophy to stay away from big long-term FA contracts and only sign players to short 3 year or less deals.

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