The Yankees and Robinson Cano's agent, Scott Boras, are talking about a new deal, but it is hard to find anyone who thinks a contract will be agreed upon before Opening Day. For that to happen, the Yankees would need to make an overwhelming offer to overcome Boras' history of taking his players to the market. But they are in discussions, so there is a chance.
Boras knows the landscape as well as anyone, and there are teams that could put pressure on the Yankees. With Hal Steinbrenner's $189 million goal, there is a perception that the Yankees are becoming cheap. This is an unfair term, because $189 million is a lot of dough, but the Bombers have a strong brand built on stars and have to be mindful of the blurring of perception and reality. Even if there is sound judgment behind it, losing a bidding war on Cano will signal to many that the Yankees are no longer the Yankees.
With that said, let's take a look at some of the leverage Cano potentially could have if he does not make a deal now. Here are some of the teams who could have interest in Cano next winter:
1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: The Dodgers have already become Yankees West, supplanting the Bombers with the largest payroll ever. If their blueprint works this season, it seems very reasonable they may just pluck another star into their system. Yankees pride versus Dodgers green is an emotional East Coast-West Coast bidding battle that Boras would love.
2. NEW YORK METS: The Wilpons are broke, you say. Well, they only have guaranteed deals with David Wright and Jon Niese for 2014. The Mets could very well be involved, and the Yankees have to take that seriously.
That said, the Wilpons are experts at winning silver and bronze medals in free agency. Sandy Alderson isn't the type to go eight-to-10 years on a 31-year-old second baseman, but the threat of the Mets is a tool I'm sure Boras would enjoy using.
3. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Chase Utley is due $15 million in the final year of his contract, so the Phillies have that large salary slot opening up. More importantly, the Phillies will be the next team to receive a mega cable deal.
4. CHICAGO CUBS: Darwin Barney is a slick-fielding second baseman, but he is half the player Cano is. Cano can match his defense and is one of the best offensive players in the game. The Cubs could be players.
5. BOSTON RED SOX: The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia on a favorable contract that includes an $11 million option for 2014. I would put Boston as a long shot, but guys can switch positions if the money is right. I don't think you can totally count the Sox out. The Red Sox might just help Boras force the Yankees to overpay even more.
6. MYSTERY TEAM: Every team in baseball would love to have Cano. We named five, but if Cano reaches free agency, teams not mentioned here will be hot and heavy for him. That is why -- unless Boras is concerned about injury or an off-the-field controversy hurting Cano's value -- it is hard to imagine Cano and Boras agreeing to a deal now.
QUESTION: WHAT WOULD YOU OFFER ROBINSON CANO NOW?