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Van Riper: Yankees should trade Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera

Mar 31, 2013, 9:15 PM EDT

New York Yankees' Rivera throws against Washington Nationals during their exhibition MLB baseball game in Washington Reuters

This is an, uh, interesting column by Tom Van Riper for Forbes.

But [Cano is] also 30, and heading to free agency next fall represented by Scott Boras, who will no doubt be looking for a deal that pays his client well over $100 million until his 40th birthday, give or take.

Even if Van Riper’s hypothetical Robinson Cano contract is for, say, $175 million, the average annual value ($17.5 million) would still be good for the Yankees. Dream bigger!

But because most clubs continue to overvalue closers against all the evidence (95% of all ninth inning leads result in victories, rendering a top closer a marginal contributor), the Yanks could probably get a nice haul of young talent by dangling Rivera to a contender.

Conventional wisdom says this will never happen, because public relations rules dictate that Rivera must retire a Yankee.

Mariano Rivera also has 10-5 rights, which makes things a bit more difficult.

April is going to be the hardest month for the Yankees. They’ll start getting players back from the disabled list in May and should be running on all cylinders by the time summer arrives. There really isn’t any reason for the Yankees to throw in the towel now. Even with the new and improved Blue Jays, the AL East is still very winnable.

  1. Kevin S. - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    If things go absolutely horribly and the Yankees want to do a sell-off at the trade deadline, I could see that, especially if they don’t think they’re going to keep Cano in free agency. But trading Cano and Mo now would basically be signalling a two-year punt, and I can’t imagine the Yankees doing that, luxury tax threshold or not.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      There’s a two part problem with trading Cano. One, you won’t get nearly enough value back in prospects from the trade since he’s: A, one under contract for 6 months, and B, looking for a monster deal (Santana issue for the Yanks a few years ago). Also, the drop off from Cano to the next best 2b is huge. I really don’t like the ZIPS projections for Cano as they are the worst for him since ’08, but the drop off between him and Pedroia is huge.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:39 PM

        That’s not a two-part problem, it’s an either-or. Either the acquiring team doesn’t want to give up value because they view Cano as a one-year rental or they don’t want to give up value because they plan on spending a gazillion dollars locking him up. Like I said, I wouldn’t trade him unless the Yanks are completely out of it at the deadline.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:43 PM

        I think the second part is that the drop off from Cano to the next person is a huge issue. Maybe they are part of the same problem, but the Yanks won’t get enough value from Cano as a player to begin with, AND they won’t be able to come close in replacing his production from a 2b from anyone within MLB.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:46 PM

        Oh, you mean going forward? Trading him doesn’t stop them from bidding on him next winter.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        yes, I’m seriously afraid of what they are going to do this winter. There’s already been rumblings that Hal didn’t expect this much backlash to the $189M goal. Imagine if Tex is out for the year with wrist surgery, Jeter is a shadow of himself and Granderson continues his slide. Do they throw a 10/$250M contract at him?

        Guy below us mentions 7/$170M contract from the Dodgers. That’s about the max amount of years I”d offer him, but the value is a bit low.

  2. losanginsight - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Cano will look good in Dodger Blue if he becomes a FA.
    7 years/ $170 should get him in LA.

    • tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:02 PM

      Have fun with his inevitable decline phase. He’ll fit right in with the current Dodgers roster.

    • djpostl - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      Have fun with that lol seeing how 2B is a position that doesn’t age for shit.

      Alomar Morgan, Sandberg (all of HoF players) were pretty much done being anything other than .250 hitters with little pop by the time they were 33.

      Utley, Cano’s closest peer, hit that same wall in between 31 & 32.

      Anyone paying him long-term, be it the Yankees or the dumb asses in LA deserves the pain they get when that sharp decline comes.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I don’t want to be all correlation-and-causation….

    But couldn’t it be argued that 95% of leads in the 9th turn into wins BECAUSE of quality closers?

    And the other 5% are losses because of Alfredo Aceves?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      Not really, since that number has basically held constant since long before we had dedicated closers.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Nope, two great articles to read by Joe Pos:

      Money quote from the latter article:

      Teams won 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 2010. Teams won 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 1952.

      Longer quote:

      Here, I’ll give you another example. Most of us would agree, probably, that Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of baseball, right? I mean, we can have that argument another time, but I think it’s Rivera, and you probably think it’s Rivera, and since he became a closer in 1997, the Yankees have won a rather remarkable 97.3% of the time when they lead going into the ninth inning. I don’t have an easy way to compare that to everyone over the same time period, but I’d bet that’s the best record for any team. In 2008, the Yankees won all 77 games the led going into the ninth. Most years they lose once or twice.

      So that would seem to indicate that Rivera DOES make a difference. And I think he does make a difference — compared to other closers.

      But … consider the 1950s New York Yankees. Dominant team, of course. The bullpen was an ever shifting thing, though. One year, Ryne Duren was their main guy out of the pen, another year it was Bob Grim or Art Ditmar or Tom Morgan or Tommy Byrne or Jim Konstanty … well, the names changed all the time. The bullpen changed all the time. Casey Stengel seemed to shift strategies every now and again, probably to keep things interesting, starters finished many more games, and anyway the game was very different then and …

      From 1951-1962, the New York Yankees won 97.3% of their ninth inning leads. If you carry it another decimal point, they actually won a slightly HIGHER percentage of their ninth inning leads than the Mariano Yankees.

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:55 PM

        I actually like Joe….but his writing style is woefully ineffective in a blog environment….thanks to that damn MTV and Nickelodeon of the 80s I have the attention span of a housefly….

        But it’s unfair to compare across generations especially when you consider, just looking at the 1952 Yankees, that 35% of their games were pitched in their entirety by the starting pitcher.

        Even looking at the worst team in the league, their starters pitched complete games in 25% of their starts.

        In 2012, the Yankees had complete games in 3% of their games.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        From the first link:

        1980s: .951
        1990s: .949
        2000s: .954
        2010s: .952

        % of games won while leading into the 9th.

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        Let us also take into account the HUGE shift in offense between the 1950s and today.

  4. dondada10 - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    I see….

    Well, I suppose that investors and Wall Street types don’t go to Fangraphs for stock tips.

    This is why I don’t go to Forbes for my baseball.

  5. ronvargasjr - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    I can’t see Cano excepting 17 million a year when he is better than Jeter,arod, and tex and they all avg more per year than 17.Boras,Boras,Boras.

  6. chacochicken - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I just assume April Fools has come early.

    • mlblogspauly - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      I agree, it’s either that or this author is delusional. He’s an idiot, period.

  7. tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Yes, trade your longest-tenured Yankee player and the most dominant closer in the history of the game. While you’re at it, trade him when his value is at its lowest point: coming off a major injury that required surgery, pitching in his final season, at 43 years of age. What’s that? He has 10 and 5 rights to veto any trade? Even better! Who doesn’t like a challenge?!

    I don’t read Forbes because I find Steve Forbes to be abhorrent, but I sincerely hope their financial advice is significantly better than their baseball advice.

  8. aceshigh11 - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Trading Cano would be a massive punt on the Yankees’ part….can’t see it happening unless the team completely collapses, which almost certainly won’t happen…

    Trading Rivera would be the work of someone with terminal psychosis, as would accepting that trade.

  9. jfk69 - Apr 1, 2013 at 3:46 AM

    LOL…..What about Jeter as well
    Van…Try science fiction writing with your free time.
    A Rivera trade will never happen in his last year due Yankee tradition and Rivera’s desire to complete his entire career as a Yankee.

    Cano…It would strictly be a rental unless Boras cut a deal. The Dodgers come to mind.
    The Yankees have 70 million coming off the books next year and if Arod can’t come back that turns into 100 million.

    Now help the Mets get some outfielders.

  10. mrfloydpink - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    Trading Rivera? All kinds of stupid.

    Problem 1, as noted elsewhere, is that you’re hardly going to get a meaningful return for a 43-year-old closer entering his final year and coming off a serious knee injury. Particularly one that collects a paycheck in line with his premium status.

    Problem 2, in exchange for this hypothetical B-grade prospect, the Yankees would take a huge PR hit with fans and might damage their relationship with a player who seems likely to become a longtime advisor/PR ambassador/whatever, ala Reggie Jackson.

    Problem 3, watching Rivera take his final laps is going to attract viewers and sell tickets this season, a lot of them. Depending on how things go, it could be the primary thing attracting people to games by August.

  11. jfk69 - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    Last thought
    I would love to trade Cano. Power hitting Second basemen do not age well past 35 with the exception of Kent, Morgan and Biaggio. Do you get lucky or end up with an Alomar and a host of other notables after 35 years old. I am thinking a seven year deal or better yet a five year deal with a two year option or buyout.
    Boras get back to me

  12. randygnyc - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    I see Cano and Boras pushing for between 25-30 million per year. Cano has the potential to be the best second baseman of all time. He’s certainly the best second baseman in the game right now.

    • jfk69 - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:30 AM

      They can push all they want.
      The big contracts that were given out last year..Pujols and Fielder come to mind….don’t look so good one year later. Of course they are nine more go. Lets go Dave Winfield

    • stevequinn - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      I’m a Sawx fan and Robby Cano is one of my favorite ballplayers. I also liked the “core” Yankees (Jeter, Rivera, Pettite, Posada, Bernie Williams) who stayed with the Yanks their entire careers. Respect the Yankees and hope they don’t do something stupid and trade Cano……unless it’s to the Red Sox. Fat Chance!

  13. jfk69 - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    This just in .


    He first noticed this after a night of extreme gyrations during a kinky marathon sex session at Madonna’s NYC abode during his many late night visits earlier in his Yankee career.
    He claims…I could never generate that hip damaging kind of torque swinging a bat.

  14. jfk69 - Apr 1, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Great blog on letting Cano go by Leigh Mayo ,,,The Rational Yankee
    Here is the link
    I agree

  15. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    They should always listen.

    If the Rangers want to trade Andrus + Profar + Feliz for Cano, I would be willing to have that conversation. Trout + Kendrick for Cano? I’ll mull it over.

    I don’t think it is likely, but a GM should ALWAYS be willing to listen.

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