When Andy Van Slyke went scorched earth on Robinson Cano last week, I leapt to the second baseman's quasi-defense. He was not nearly as bad as Van Slyke portrayed, after all. And with a strong second half, there's a lot of hope that he will be back to normal in 2016. That is, assuming he still is a Mariner in 2016.
Because as sick as Andy Van Slyke was of watching Cano play, it turns out Cano might be that sick of playing in Seattle. An anonymous friend (who I'm sure Cano is super pleased with today) told the New York Daily News that his buddy was tired of playing for M's, "especially with a new regime in charge there now," and would really like to get back to New York City.
I mean, if the report is accurate, good luck with that, Robby. With eight years and $192 million remaining on his contract, there simply is no way to move you. That's kind of the devil's bargain you made when signing a ten year deal to finish your career in the Pacific Northwest. That said, nothing makes ballplayers happier than winning, and maybe that new regime will help Cano and his Mariners be competitive going forward.
All of that said, Cano's supposed difficulties adjusting to Seattle can be instructive to free agents on the market right now. While none of us should feel sorry for Cano, who is making $24 million a year, ten years is a long time to be somewhere you don't want to be. He backed himself into a corner and built impenetrable walls around himself out of time and money. He ain't going nowhere.
Which is why I expect that a lot of the top free agents on the market today (the guys who are going to get six to ten year deals) will negotiate for opt out clauses like the one Zack Greinke used this year. Opt-out clauses aren't new:
- J.D. Drew used his after 2006 to jump from the Dodgers to the Red Sox for another five year deal.
- Alex Rodriguez had one that he used after 2007 to get a new deal with the Yankees.
- The next year, A.J. Burnett did the same thing to the Blue Jays so that he could sign a massive five-year deal with the Yanks.
- CC Sabathia (what is it with guys and initials and opt-outs?) did the same thing after 2011, used his opt-out clause as leverage to get an extra year and $30 million out of the Yankees.
- Rafael Soriano also opted out of his deal with the Yankees only to find nobody wanted to pay him Papelbon money.
- Vernon Wells had an opt out that he didn't exercise in 2011 because...he was Vernon Wells.
- Elvis Andrus has one that will allow him to opt out after 2018 or 2019, something maybe the Rangers wouldn't mind him doing.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu is free to opt out after 2017 if he averages 203 innings in each of the next two seasons for the Dodgers.
- Clayton Kershaw can get out of his deal with Los Angeles after 2018.
- And Giancarlo Stanton can mercifully put some distance between himself and Jeffrey Loria after 2020, assuming he doesn't snap before then.
There are probably a couple that I'm missing at this point. Anyway, opt-out clauses allow them to seek greener (and wealthier) pastures after a few years, especially as revenues around the league continue to rise and cash for elite free agents becomes even more plentiful. And anybody who might, for instance, not be looking forward to rainy Seattle weather for the next eight years is probably wishing he remembered to negotiate one of those for himself right now.