Originally written on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 11/15/14
"Did they get a fair price for Rickey Henderson? It's kind of like if you're an art collector and you have the Mona Lisa, what's a fair price for it? The idea in building a championship team is to acquire players like Rickey Henderson. It's a sad day when you have to give one away." Bill James wrote that in 1985 after the Oakland Athletics traded away Rickey Henderson to (ironically enough) the New York Yankees before the start of season. Henderson, at that point in his career, was 28 years old and was widely regarded as one of the best all-around baseball players in the league. The A's opted to trade Henderson away in exchange for some assets because they knew he would be outside of their price range once hitting free agency the following season. It's not a perfect comparison, but when thinking about the impending "to spend or not to spend?" question that the Yankees face regarding Robinson Cano, that James quote reasonates. Cano is (deservedly) on track to receive one of the largest contracts in baseball history. He's in the prime of his career, has been the most valuable position player in baseball for the last three seasons and excels at just about every aspect of the game. With the Dodgers throwing money around like they just don't give a damn and widespread lucrative TV deals continuing to marginalize New York's leg-up in the payroll department, Cano's price is probably going to balloon to an 8- to 10-year deal worth upwards of $220 million. The Yankees have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of extending Cano. At 30 years of age it's likely that the all-star second baseman will begin to deteriorate after three or four years of signing his big money deal. New York, perhaps more than anybody, realizes that inking high caliber free agents is an investment of declining returns. There was also 2005 study by Nate Silver that found second basemen actually decline at a faster rate than players at any other position, presumably due to the quality of players that tend to play second – those that lack the arm strength or range to play short – and the fact that the position is constantly turning double-plays. The Yankees have the luxury of being able to DH Cano to try and save his body down the road, but that would merely prolong the inevitable. The other fact of the matter is, the core of the Yankees is old. For years New York won championships by poaching free agents exactly like Robinson Cano to add to their strong core of Jeter, Rivera, Pettite, Posada, and Williams. The expensive veteran additions were just that, additions, they were not meant to be the foundation of the team. New York, as of right now, has no foundation, and it will presumably take them a few years to piece together a collection of youngsters in which to rebuild around. Cano would continue to be the best player on a middling team and likely be on the decline by the time the Yankees are ready to contend for titles again. Were this a similar scenario for another franchise there would not be much of a discussion, Cano would have either been traded already or be out the door following the end of his contract. However, this is the New York Yankees, they acquire or re-sign players like Cano, Henderson, Alex Rodriguez, and C.C. Sabathia, and they don't let them walk away. That is, unless Hal Steinbrunner has the vision and the guts to bring to end the era that his father began 20 years ago. Can he afford to be so cavelier? Perhaps. Frankly it appears Yankees fans have become so spoiled by their team that they've started to lose interest, if the empty seats in the stadium last fall were any indication. But not resigning Cano essentially means the Yankees will have to be the Mets for a few seasons, beginining a stretch of feebleness that has not happened since the 80s. Ticket prices will have to be slashed, viewership on the billion-dollar YES network will drop and the Yankees will become just another rebuilding franchise trying to discover a new fist full of talent to lead them on another run. In the end though, I keep circling back to the quote about Henderson. Despite Cano's impending price-tag, despite his liklihood to age poorly and despite the Yankees needing a serious infusion of young talent, it's Robinson Cano. The idea in building a championship team is to acquire players like Robinson Cano. It's a sad day when you have to let one walk away. By: Ryan Gilmore Twitter: @Rygil01
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Five bubble teams playing well heading into March

Falcons release Steven Jackson

Bill Walton has some words of advice for Derrick Rose

Five under-the-radar National Player of the Year candidates

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Judge overturns Peterson suspension; NFL to appeal

Dez Bryant's mother in 2012: Dez threatened to knock me out

Full offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

Brandon Bostick received death threats after botched play

Ex-Louisville player charged with rape, sodomy

Hank Aaron 'rooting' for Alex Rodriguez to succeed in return

Are the Kings willing to trade DeMarcus Cousins?

Johan Santana signed by Blue Jays to minor league deal

Leafs trade David Clarkson to Blue Jackets For Nathan Horton

Panthers acquire Jaromir Jagr from Devils

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

HBO picks up The Rock’s football series, ‘Ballers’

The key offseason moves for every MLB team

Giancarlo Stanton gets first-ever customized facemask

Ronda Rousey, Arianny Celeste have verbal sparring match

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The many parallels of Derrick Rose and Penny Hardaway

Ex-homeless Baylor RB admits he broke rules

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

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

On Josh Hamilton's addiction and feeling alone

Judge rules against AP's suspension

Why the Lions should let Suh walk

Chris Jones charged with rape, sodomy

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.