Jacoby Ellsbury got $153 million for seven years; Brian McCann landed a five-year deal worth $85 million; and Masahiro Tanaka scored $155 million without ever appearing in a Major League Baseball game. Throw in Carlos Beltran’s $45 million for three years and low-profile deals for Matt Thornton, Brian Roberts, and Kelly Johnson and the Yankees committed well over $400 million to free agents in the offseason.
Did the Yankees improve upon previous players and available options with their wild spending spree? Approaching the halfway point of the 2014 season, here are grades for the Yankees’ offseason moves.
6. Letting Cano walk and replacing him with Roberts: C-
After Robinson Cano turned down seven years and $175 million, the Yankees gave the star second baseman the old Steinbrenner treatment and told him to more or less go play for “the Toledo Mud Hens.” Cano did just that, signing for ten years and $240 million in Seattle. Departing the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, Cano has had a power outage in 2014. He’s hit 3 home runs and slugged .436 through the first 61 games. Those numbers are well off Cano’s average pace in home runs (27 HR) and slugging (over .530) for his previous five seasons.
For showing uncommon restraint when held hostage by a star free agent (see: Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia), the Yankees deserve a B-plus. Those long-term deals have always come back to haunt them. For replacing him with Brian Roberts, they deserve an D-minus. Roberts has posted a .237 batting average with 2 HR through mid-June, but he’s not off his pace of any previous seasons. That’s the Brian Roberts of 2014 the Yankees paid $2 million to replace Cano.