What a time to start my tenure as a writer for this site. A flurry of free agent signings went down over the last couple of days and they all have implications for the AL East as a whole and the Jays in particular. But none more than the deal that takes Robinson Cano out of the AL East for the rest of his career. The deal is a whopping 10 years, $240M. Of course, this signing means the most to the Yankees and the Mariners.
To be honest, I really couldn’t invision Cano playing for anyone but the Yankees. I thought eventually somebody would cave, or they’d compromise, and he’d be back in NY for something like 9 years $200M. But now the Yankees are left with a big hole at 2B that Kelly Johson can’t fill by himself, and the Mariners are left hoping they can put together a good enough supporting cast around Cano so that they can actually compete enough to justify the money they’ve spent. But none of that is our problem.
What is our problem is that first of all this officially takes the best 2B available off the market at a time when the Jays biggest need is arguably a 2B. But I don’t consider this a big deal either. Cano in Toronto was a pipe dream wished for by some and expected by none. There was no way Cano was every coming North, and personally, I’m happy the Jays didn’t pony up the cash for this long-term investment.
The bigger problem, if you’re a Jays fan is that this now brings the Yankees into the 2B market to compete with the Jays for all the same players. In reality, the only really useful 2B on the market now is Omar Infante. He happens to be one of the more underrated players in the game. He’s pretty durable (averaging about 140 games per season the last 4 years), and he’s averaged 3.0 fWAR over the past two years (making him an above-average starter).
He’s accomplished this without much fanfare. He’ll never be a superstar, but he’ll at least be average and maybe a bit better for the next couple of years. His skill-set (pretty good at everything, great at nothing) generally gets underpaid in baseball, and the fact that he’s not a “big name” won’t help him either. He stands to be one of the better values out there this winter, as Fangraphs wrote here.
Unfortunately, with the Yankees now in the market for a 2B, and them having already been linked to each other, I think the chances of the Jays making a move here are a lot less likely than I hoped they were last week.