Should this week’s Robinson Cano news, jaw dropping if not shocking, validate the Yankees’ decision to let him leave for Seattle nearly seven years ago?
I contend the opposite. That Cano’s suspension for all of 2021, thanks to a positive test for Stanozolol, would have served as the perfect send off to a beautiful, long-running relationship with the team that signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2001.
I think (and wrote at the time) that the Yankees should have offered Cano $200 million over eight years, upping their offer by a year and $25 million, when the second baseman hit free agency in 2013. And I think Cano should have accepted such a proposal over the Mariners’ 10-year, $240-million package. Life would’ve played out far better for both sides, as we can now report thanks to this alternate timeline The Post exclusively accessed …
2014: Even with Cano back and joined by free agents Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees fall short of the playoffs for a second straight season. The Yankees turn their season fully over to Derek Jeter’s retirement tour with the knowledge that, by keeping their payroll under the $189-million luxury-tax threshold, they can hit the fiscal reset button after the season. Which they do authoritatively by signing Tigers ace Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $217-million deal.
“Wow, big move!” Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew, none of whom ever play for the Yankees, exclaim simultaneously.
2015: With Scherzer atop their rotation and the resurgent duo Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira joining Cano to create a fearsome middle of the lineup, the Yankees advance all the way to the Fall Classic, only to fall short to the Mets in a Subway World Series.
“Thank goodness my fellow Oregon State alum Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the Mariners so I could visit him last year, when we both were in the Pacific Northwest, and learn from him,” Series Most Valuable Player Michael Conforto says. (Hey, not all of the unintended consequences will be favorable.)
2016: As A-Rod and Teixeira crater toward retirement, great years by Cano and Scherzer can’t keep Brian Cashman from selling high on relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the trade deadline, replenishing the Yankees’ farm system. Nevertheless, Gary Sanchez’s thunderous August arrival sneaks the Yankees into a wild-card slot, though they lose an American League Division Series to the Indians — who proceed to win their first title since 1948 when Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro commits a disastrous error in the 10th inning of World Series Game 7.
“What a turn of events!” Mets second baseman Ben Zobrist marvels.
“For sure!” Nationals left fielder Yoenis Cespedes agrees.
2017: Carlos Beltran, asked by his new Astros teammates if there’s more they should be doing to steal opponents’ signs, shrugs and says, “Having spent the last three years with the Royals, I am not aware of any advanced chicanery elsewhere.” The Astros fall to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, and Cano — named team captain before the season — wins World Series MVP honors as his Yankees nab their first championship since 2009.
“Thanks but no thanks, Derek,” Cashman tells Jeter, now the Marlins’ CEO, when he is offered Giancarlo Stanton in a trade.
2018: Rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres shines when he gets the call upon Cano’s 80-game suspension for a diuretic showing up in his system. Cano adapts easily to the DH spot when he returns in August, and the Yankees cruise to their second straight title.
“I learned my lesson,” a grinning Cano says in a champagne-soaked clubhouse: “No more diuretics.”
2019: Cano registers his worst year as a big leaguer, but Sanchez, crediting Cano’s leadership, becomes a more consistent performer and the Yankees capture their third straight crown.
“Kudos to them!” Mets outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic proclaims.
2020: Cano starts strong and fades, just like the Yankees, who fall to the Astros in the ALCS, and news breaks in November that Cano, having failed a drug test, will sit out all of 2021 — the last year of his deal — and not get paid. Thrilled Yankees fans thank Cano for both so many great seasons and such reckless conduct as the team uses the found money to sign Charlie Morton and James McCann, winning it all again in 2021.
2029: At the 20th anniversary celebration of their 2009 championship, the Yankees retire Cano’s number 24 and A-Rod’s 13.
“I’m so glad I stayed with the Yankees,” Cano says at the ceremony. Everyone agrees.
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