Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 3/2/13
Mlb-yankees-tigers-may

The Yankees have a long standing policy against negotiating contract extensions for players under contract, preferring instead to wait until the player reaches free agency to hash out a new deal. They even held that line with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two of the iconic players in franchise history, so it hasn’t just been selectively applied here and there. So, it was pretty interesting to hear that the Yankees are ignoring that policy with Robinson Cano, and have confirmed that they recently made Scott Boras a “significant offer” to get him from becoming a free agent after the season. Brian Cashman’s answer for why they’ve changed course with Cano: “Since we’re the team, we have a right to change our minds and adjust the policy whenever, especially ownership,” Cashman said. “It’s not like it’s a country club, and here’s the code of conduct that you can’t deviate from. We’ve had a history of doing things a certain way, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be that way every day.” For the Yankees to shift policy and extend Cano an offer now suggests that they’re both a little scared of what his price might be if he gets to free agency, and that they’re comfortable with how well he’ll age that they don’t need to see his age-30 season before deciding to sign up for the rest of his decline phase. The fear about his price if the Dodgers get involved is certainly valid, but should the fact that Cano is a second baseman scare the Yankees away from making a long term commitment to him before they have gathered all the information possible by letting him play out the 2013 season? Second baseman, if you haven’t heard, have a reputation for falling apart without much notice. Edgardo Alfonso, Carlos Baerga, Marcus Giles, Chuck Knoblauch, and even Roberto Alomar all went from being pretty terrific players to completely unproductive in a hurry. Most recently, Chase Utley has seen his production tumble, as injuries have begun to take their toll, and he’s been less productive at the plate than he was during his prime. The anecdotal evidence about the detrimental affects of playing the position — taking hard slides while turning the double play is the most often cited reason — are there, but anecdotal evidence can be selectively applied, and Cano is clearly a better player than most of the guys who fell apart earlier than expected. How concerned should the Yankees be about making a long term commitment to a second baseman headed for his age-30 season? The evidence suggests that he’s not any more of a risk than a great player at any other position on the field. Over the last 50 years, there have been six second baseman (Cano included) who have put up a 130 wRC+ or better from ages 26 to 29. Here’s how the list of second baseman since 1963 who spent their prime years just bashing the baseball: Name PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR Chase Utley 2,687 9% 16% 0.236 0.330 0.305 0.385 0.541 0.395 137 57.1 18.8 31.0 Joe Morgan 2,725 15% 8% 0.157 0.280 0.276 0.389 0.433 0.375 135 12.0 22.5 30.1 Rod Carew 2,555 10% 8% 0.100 0.372 0.348 0.410 0.449 0.386 143 2.0 8.1 25.5 Robinson Cano 2,748 7% 12% 0.220 0.323 0.314 0.365 0.534 0.384 138 3.2 - 24.3 Dick McAuliffe 2,160 14% 16% 0.187 0.274 0.254 0.361 0.441 0.361 134 15.0 (3.6) 21.8 Craig Biggio 2,612 12% 13% 0.155 0.323 0.294 0.390 0.449 0.374 134 (20.0) 6.7 19.7 As you can see, Cano has put himself in some pretty good company. Now, here’s how the other five players on that list performed starting with their age-31 season, which is the years that the Yankees would be buying out with a long term deal for Cano. Name PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR Joe Morgan 5,390 17% 9% 0.163 0.272 0.270 0.396 0.433 0.376 136 (25.0) 39.5 49.5 Craig Biggio 7,299 8% 15% 0.167 0.308 0.279 0.357 0.446 0.351 110 (29.0) 18.6 36.8 Rod Carew 4,915 11% 9% 0.096 0.355 0.327 0.403 0.424 0.370 130 12.0 (5.8) 31.4 Chase Utley 1,327 11% 12% 0.169 0.274 0.264 0.367 0.433 0.351 119 24.0 12.5 12.6 Dick McAuliffe 1,735 12% 13% 0.141 0.245 0.231 0.324 0.372 0.319 98 (9.0) (0.3) 6.8 Finally, here are the same players, just with the changes in both their playing time and their production in that playing time during the two different timeframes. Name 26-29 PA/Year 31+ PA/Year 26-29 WAR/600 31+ WAR/600 PA% Decline WAR% Decline Joe Morgan 681 539 6.6 5.5 21% 17% Craig Biggio 653 664 4.5 3.0 -2% 33% Rod Carew 639 546 6.0 3.8 15% 36% Chase Utley 672 442 6.9 5.7 34% 18% Dick McAuliffe 540 434 6.1 2.4 20% 61% Average 637 525 6.0 4.1 18% 33% Overall, the group lost an average of about 100 plate appearances per year and went from playing like +6 win players to playing like +4 win players when they did take the field. McAuliffe had the biggest decline, as he was essentially done as a useful player by age 34, but one guy falling apart out of five isn’t the clear trend that the reputation of aging second baseman would suggest. Even including McAuliffe, these five players averaged 3.5 WAR per season after they turned 31. Hardly a group that just fell apart after their prime was over. If we give Cano the group’s average performance for his age 31-40 seasons, assuming he’ll have enough leverage to land a nine year deal, the Yankees would be paying for around +30 WAR over the life of the deal. If you assume something like 5% inflation annually over the next nine years, the average price of a win during Cano’s contract would be in the $7 million per win range, which would place a fair market deal in the range of $210 million. Projecting long term inflation isn’t easy, especially with the varying television deals being struck lately, so that might even be a bit of an undershot — we saw most of the premium free agents this year sign for more than the crowd expected when the winter began. There’s no question that Scott Boras is going to be using the Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto contracts as his starting points in negotiations. Votto signed away his age 30-39 seasons for $225 million, and was two years away from free agency when he got that contract. Fielder signed his 28-36 seasons for $214 million, but isn’t as good as good of a player as Cano and had his market limited to AL teams because of his body type. Pujols signed his age 32-41 seasons for $240 million, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the contract Boras tried to beat if he gets Cano to free agency. At some point in the near future, Robinson Cano is going to become a very, very rich man. The fact that he plays second base probably won’t hurt him in negotiations much, as the evidence that great second baseman age worse than other positions doesn’t really hold up very well. Cano won’t be a +6 win player in his 30s, but he doesn’t have to be to be worth $200+ million on his next deal. If the Yankees want to keep him from free agency, their “generous offer” is almost certainly going to have to start with a two.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gordon defends friendship with 'good friend' Manziel

Geno Smith ‘kind of pissed off’ about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return

Bell admits he knew about missed drug test, lied to media

Report: Chargers rookie Joey Bosa to hold out of camp

Doc Rivers blames ‘bloggers’ for Blake Griffin trade rumors

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Peters: Eagles practiced too much under Chip Kelly

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

WATCH: Belichick gets annoyed by Jimmy Garoppolo question

Ronda Rousey denies being pregnant despite rumor

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker