First Brian McCann, then Jacoby Ellsbury, and now Kelly Johnson. It might be best if Yankee fans paid their respects to the No. 24 uniform because it looks like Robinson Cano won’t be coming back to the Bronx.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not when you factor in just how long a deal Cano wants at his age, 31.
Throw the absurd $300 million figure Cano reportedly was chasing. Even at, say, $220 million over eight years, that’s the kind of contract the Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez. And let’s be honest, nobody but A-Rod thinks that’s a good contract today — with four years left.
The McCann deal, and the reported deals for Ellsbury and Johnson, are cheap by comparison.
While McCann signed for five years and $85 million, he will be just 34 when the deal ends. Even if you factor in that he likely won’t be the Yankees backstop by 2018, the All-Star should be able to contribute at the plate somehow.
At a reported seven years, $153 million, the 30-year-old Ellsbury’s deal hardly can be viewed as a steal, but it too was a wiser contract than anything Cano would have accepted. Ellsbury’s career on-base percentage compares favorably to Cano’s — .350 to .355, respectively. Plus, what the Yankees would lose in power, they will gain in the speed department — Ellsbury has stolen 50 bases or more three times in six years.
And then there’s Johnson, 32, who will reportedly play on a one-year deal for about $3 million. While a big step down at second base from Cano, he’s a solid hitter who certainly could hit 20-plus homers for the first time since 2011.
Overall, signing the trio of left-handed bats instead of bringing back the one — even if he might be the best one — was the right choice. It’s possible the lengthy McCann and Ellsbury deals backfire, but I’m willing to bet that in five years, Yankee fans will glad the team let Cano chase his money elsewhere.
Scott Fonana is amNewYork's sports editor.