Over the past seven seasons, the remarkably durable Robinson Cano appeared in virtually every game the New York Yankees played. But he won’t be doing so anymore.
Cano, 31, the best player on the Yankees in recent seasons and the key to their attack, has decided to bolt the Bronx and accept a 10-year, $240 million offer from the Seattle Mariners, according to multiple media reports. The Yankees were still awaiting official confirmation Friday that Cano would no longer be wearing pinstripes but were proceeding on the understanding that he was gone.
Wasting no time, the Yankees agreed to a one-year, $16 million deal with Hiroki Kuroda, which means the veteran Japanese righthander will return to the Bronx for a third season and fill one of the spots in a starting rotation that remains a work in progress.
But Cano’s decision to leave the only team he has ever played for remained a stunning development. To the end, the Yankees held their ground, telling Cano and his representatives — led by the entertainment mogul Jay Z — that they would not go higher than seven years and about $175 million.
So Cano is gone, leaving the Yankees with a significant challenge as they try to replace a player who consistently hit for power and average and provided impeccable defense at second base. His departure will create one more riddle in a Yankees infield that now has an incumbent shortstop, Derek Jeter, who is 39 and missed almost all of the 2013 season with assorted leg injuries, and an incumbent third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, who could end up suspended for much or all of the 2014 season in connection with the Biogenesis drug investigation in South Florida.
The Yankees wanted Cano to stay, but not in a deal that would uncomfortably mimic the $275 million, 10-year contract they gave Rodriguez in December 2007, a decision that has come to haunt the Yankees in recent seasons.
In nine seasons with the Yankees, Cano hit 204 home runs, compiled a .309 batting average and was named to five American League All-Star teams. He was sometimes criticized for not always running hard on the basepaths; at the same time, his ability to stay in the lineup game after game was sometimes taken for granted.
News of Cano’s deal reached Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Friday. “Couldn’t be happier for him and for us,” Pedroia said. “We don’t have to face him 19 times a year.”
Cano wasn’t the only player the Yankees lost Friday.
A person familiar with the situation said free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson and the New York Mets have agreed to a $60 million, four-year contract.
The deal was pending a physical and no announcement had been made. The agreement was first reported by the New York Post.
The 32-year-old Granderson gives the Mets much-needed power in their punchless outfield. He batted .229 with 7 homers and 15 RBIs this year, when injuries limited him to 61 games. But he surpassed 40 homers in each of the previous two seasons.
The move marks general manager Sandy Alderson’s most expensive free agent signing — by far — after three years of bargain shopping as the Mets were rebuilding.
Granderson had become even more expendable to the Yankees once they signed former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a mammoth contract this week.