Could the fans of the New York Yankees really justify calling former Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano a “sell out” on his first game back at the new Yankee Stadium Tuesday night? Boos are one thing, they will always happen in situations like this. Although it was pretty classy for the Boston Red Sox to put together a video tribute for Jacoby Ellsbury who left the team for not only more money but to compete with their bitter rivals. Shouldn’t he too be considered a “sell out” by the Boston fans? Plus, can’t Yankee fans spot that he sold out to go to their team? Apparently not. For Yankee’s fans to chant “You Sold Out” at anyone is bordering on the side of amusing.
The Yankees have, especially in the past decade, bought their players from other teams for big bucks. What do Yankee fans or Cardinals fans for that matter think of a guy like Albert Pujols who left the Cardinals after 11 seasons for big money? Maybe the Cardinal fans did see him as a “sell out” at one point, I don’t know. I do know that there wasn’t this amount of hatred or resentment towards him from his former team’s fans as the backlash has been for Cano. I can attest to the fact that the term was thrown around by some Oakland A’s fans after Jason Giambi left. He’d get his fair share of boos when he’d comeback for various reasons that, at least, made a little more sense.
The Yankees bought Giambi from a small market team who couldn’t possibly have matched their offer and they have been doing it ever since. The Yankees’ fans embrace their new guys like Giambi (although he did not quite pan out for the Bronx Bombers) or Johnny Damon and now they have Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka as examples. These players, like many others over the years, could technically be called “sell outs,” leaving their original teams to join the Yankee elite in New York for larger, lengthier contracts. Those are guys who could be seen as “sell outs” to their former team’s fans but whether they are or not is irrelevant in this case.
What is relevant is that the Yankees could have kept Cano, who is arguably the best second baseman in the game right now. The team could have offered Cano the ten-year deal he was looking for but they did not. They offered him seven-years and $175 million, an offer that was beaten by the Seattle Mariners. Cano is now a Mariner and good for him. He was even willing to stay with the Yankees for a $5 million discount if they would counter the Mariner’s offer of ten-years, $240 million with an offer of ten-years, $235 million. That seems fair enough for a guy who is so good he sometimes makes his job look a little too easy. He basically carried the team in 2013 albeit not to the playoffs, but the Yankees would not have been better off without him. He played great baseball for the organization for nine years on a salary that, when compared to those of many of his teammates, could have been considered meager.
Cano is better off a Mariner at this point. He is somewhere his talents are better appreciated. There are only two players in MLB who have kept at least a .300 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage for each of the past five seasons. Yep, just two: Cano and Miguel Cabrera. He’s been in the top six in the voting for MVP every season since 2010 and has represented the Yankees in the All-Star Game five times. Cano helped the Yankees, and for the fans not to realize this and to show such contempt for him after all of his efforts is not only unjustifiable, it’s downright shameful. Joel Sherman of the Washington Post wrote that the fans’ reception of Cano was,
“the worse reception of anyone I can remember returning here”
Every upset and angry Yankee fan should be reminded (as I, myself, have had to be sometimes by a ballplayer friend of mine) that baseball is a business as well as a game. It’s Cano’s job to do what’s best for him and play his best which he obviously did in New York and has continued to do in Seattle. He is currently batting .296 with a home run and 12 RBI. It is also the Yankees’ job as an organization to run their business as they see fit. In this case Cano hardly “sold out.” The Yankees would not budge in their offer and Cano took the offer best suited for him. Like the fans of many organizations whose players have left their teams for greener financial pastures, more often than not to play for the Yankees, the “haters” in New York need to just let it go.