Sunday, December 8, 2013

Seeking a large pay day, no matter who it was from, Robinson Cano left the Yankees Friday in favor of the 10-year, $240 million contract offered by the Seattle Mariners, leaving a big hole at second base for the Bombers.

Like general manager Brian Cashman said Friday, everyone is replaceable, but some players are harder to replace than other.

Cano will be the hardest player that the Yankees have had to replace in the last few years -- Mariano Rivera might be just as hard to replace if David Robertson doesn't work out as closer.

Cano is a career .300 hitter. He's hit at least 25 homeruns in each of the past five seasons, with at least 100 RBIs in three of the past five seasons. Not to mention, he's played in at least 159 games in each of the past seven seasons. It's hard to find a great player as durable as he is.

The Yankees will have to replace their Gold Glove in the field, their Silver Slugger at the plate, and their only positional All-Star in 2013. There is a few ways we could see them do that.

Option No. 1 would be having Kelly Johnson, who officially signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Yankees on Friday, playing second base next season. This is a possibility, but the Yanks see him more as a utility infielder that will play around around the diamond, and could even play in left field if needed.

If they don't feel like that would be best, then they can go with the most likely option, which would signing free-agent second baseman Omar Infante, who the Yankees have been talking to throughout this offseason, and even reportedly made an offer to.

The terms of the offer the Yanks supposedly made to him are unknown, but predicted that he would sign for three-years, $25 million.

The Yankees are chasing him for his glove, but he would be able to play second base, and even third base, if needed, as long as you-know-who is suspended for most or all of next season. He's played mostly at second base in his career, but third base is still an option.

At the plate, Infante would be able to help the Yankees, although not at the capabilities that Cano was at the plate. Infante hit .318 with 10 homeruns and 51 RBIs for the Detroit Tigers this past season. If he can hit somewhere around or above .300, and hit between 10-15 -- with some help coming from the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium -- then Infante would prove to be a solid pickup for the Yanks.

Of course, the Yankees could decide to explore the trade market. Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has been one of the top names thrown around. The Yankees checked in on him this winter and the price is said to be too high, and I wouldn't expect the Yanks to have enough pieces anyway.

Howie Kendrick of the Los Angeles Angels could be another name to watch. A deal for him would seem to be a little more realistic, and the Angels would likely be looking for some pitchers in a deal, and the Yankees have some decent backend of the rotation depth.

You could also look at Nick Franklin on the Mariners. Now that Cano is in Seattle, there isn't any room for Franklin, and it would seem likely that he could be moved.

One player you won't see playing second base for the Yankees anytime soon, or ever, I should say: Alfonso Soriano. While it would be a great story to have Soriano playing second base for the Yanks once again, it won't happen. He'll be 38-years-old in January, and hasn't played second regularly in eight years. He can barely play the outfield, so the infield won't workout well either.

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