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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Countdown: 5 days to spring training

By Andrew Marchand

We continue our countdown to Feb. 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Wallace Matthews, Mark Simon and I will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Wally had previously looked at why Robinson Cano might stay a Yankee after becoming a free agent. Today, I look at why he might go.

WHY CANO MIGHT GO

1. THE LA DODGER$: Dodger blue? More like Dodger green. The new Yankees? Call them what you want, but the Dodgers are lurking on the Cano front. The Yankees will be most interested in keeping tabs on teams in the AL this season, but they might want to keep one eye out West. If the Dodgers' plan works this season, why would they stop? Their second baseman right now is Mark Ellis. Cano loves the prestige of being a Yankee, but the Dodgers have their own tradition, including the man Cano was named after -- the original No. 42.

2. THE HIGHEST BIDDER: You don't go to Scott Boras to cut coupons. Love him or hate him, he makes his players rich. You don't switch to Boras unless you are looking to get the last dollar. So, as much as Cano likes being a Yankee, he is not taking any hometown discounts. The $189 million mandate will not matter to him, nor should it.

3. ROARING 30s: The Yankees will have to decide if paying guys past their primes is a necessary evil. From their current contracts, highlighted by Alex Rodriguez, it is obvious that the big bucks that come at the end of these deals are not worth it. Cano will be 31 by the time he signs his next contract. Could he have another five or six top seasons? Possibly, but if he gets eight or more years, you can't expect Cano to be the same Cano. Still, can the Yankees afford to let arguably their best player go?

4. HOLDING UP THE OFFSEASON: Boras will hold all the cards because the Yankees plan on dropping below the $189 million threshold, while possibly trying to fill holes in the outfield, at catcher, at third base, in the starting rotation and at closer. That is a lot to do on a budget. Boras is not known for taking quick deals unless they are overwhelmingly in his favor (see Jayson Werth).

5. WAR-IOR: Boras hasn't produced his binder on the merits of Cano, but he won't have to reach to find superlatives for Cano as an elite all-time second baseman. You can get on Cano for not hustling all the time -- he doesn't -- but if you believe in WAR you believe in Robbie. His 7.8 WAR, according to FanGraphs, was the fourth best in baseball in 2013. That is hard to replace.

QUESTION: WILL CANO GO?