Pick the exact date the Robinson Cano deal becomes the worst in baseball

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eventually, the Robinson Cano contract will be the worst contract in baseball.

That's not a guess. That's … okay, that's a guess. But it's a damned good guess. Whenever a player gets ready to sign for over $150 million -- and the scuttlebutt is that Cano will sign for even more -- just assume it's going to be the worst contract in baseball at some point. It might be the Mariners he signs with, or it still might be the Yankees. Jim Bowden thinks both Los Angeles-area teams are still in play. At some point, though, it will be the Albert Pujols deal, but less reasonable.

Our job, then, is to pick the exact date when the contract will look like the worst in baseball. It's an impossible task, but it's worth a shot. The only rule is we're assuming eight years for Cano. He might get nine, or he might get 10. Let's assume eight.

The problem is that it depends on the team. For example:

Padres

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: December 6, 2013

Because they can't afford that, what, are you high?

So not every team qualifies. Let's deal with just the teams in the rumor mill.

Yankees

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: August 1, 2016

In this scenario, the Yankees are awful in 2016. Their luck has run out with the magic veterans and sleight-of-hand injury replacements, and their Kuroda replacements are pure Carl Pavano on the Pavano-to-Clemens scale. The deadline passes, and the Yankees can't get any prospects even if they're willing to eat $100 million of Cano's deal. That's it, the exact moment the deal becomes the worst in baseball.

Just kidding. Eventually the Yankees will be rid of the A-Rod, Jeter, and Teixeira deals, and Cano's will be one of the only ridiculous ones on the team.

But if it's going to be the worst contract in baseball, it has to be later. Even if Cano stumbles through an injury-marred season in 2014, there will be a sense of "That's what they had to do." Cano was the only offense last year, and he's a franchise-approved legacy player. That's a combo that grants some leeway and he'll-be-better-next-year, even in the worst-case scenarios, which probably won't happen in the first place.

No, if he's going to be the WCIB with the Yankees, it'll be later. Much later.

Mariners

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: May 14, 2018

Do you realize how well set up the Mariners are for the future? Even their two expensive deals aren't that expensive. Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, and Nick Franklin aren't going to make more than a million for years. Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero will always have a snifter of trade value at their current rates, even if they never hit. Felix Hernandez costs money, but almost every team would trade their best three prospects for him.

In 2016, if everything goes well, the Mariners will still have payroll flexibility. They'll have good players heading into arbitration for the first time, but they'll still make below-market salaries.

In 2018, there would be whispers that someone's gotta go. One of the good young players now -- a young pitcher, or Zunino, Miller, or Franklin -- will suddenly be on the trading block because of a looming payroll armageddon. The Mariners will have too much bloat, and they'll need to get rid of one of the now-expensive players. At that very second, Cano's contract will look like a real dog, even more than the 2016 Mariners could possibly imagine.

Also, the 2016 Mariners finish 78-84 for myriad reasons. That's the only thing I'm sure of. Just feels right.

Rangers

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: December 6, 2013

Man, what an awful fit. Unless it means Elvis Andrus goes for Matt Kemp … no, no, never mind. But, really ...

Tigers

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: December 6, 2013

… every team that isn't the Mariners or Yankees …

Giants

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: December 6, 2013

… would automatically have the worst contract …

White Sox

Estimated date Cano's deal becomes the WCIB: December 6, 2013

… in baseball.

Other than Pujols, because good gravy, that contract is hilarious. He's still owed more money than the Mariners are supposedly offering to Cano, you know.

Really, the only two teams that should be interested in him in the slightest are a) a team that can at least fall back on the PR, legacy, and milestones if things go sour, or b) a team that has almost no long-term albatrosses on the payroll, and a future that is almost wholly dependent on players set for below-market wages for the next five or six years.

The only team that fits the first one is the Yankees. There are a few teams that qualify for the second one. The Marlins don't have a lot going on with their payroll for the next few years. Neither do the Astros. But it's the Mariners who have the mix of future talent close to the majors, and limited commitments for the future.

Actually, the Marlins are a pretty good match, too.

...

Just sayin'.

Really, the only two teams that should have even a modicum of interest are the Mariners and Yankees. Eventually, the contract will be a dirigible in flames, but for a year or two or five, it will suit Cano's team quite well. There were people (myself included) who thought the Matt Holliday contract was borderline ridiculous. But it was the right deal at the right time for the right team. And it still might devolve into something unpleasant by the end, but for a while, the short-term implications made the long-term realities irrelevant.

It might be like that for the Yankees. It might be like that for the Mariners. Anyone else? Forget about it. Just as long as we agree that at some point, we'll get to laugh at just how silly the deal will become. It will be the worst contract in baseball. The only thing left to find out is if the time between now and then makes up for it.

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