ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Yankees have seen plenty of Jay-Z over the last few seasons, often spotting him wearing their cap in the front rows at Yankee Stadium and even performing on the field prior to a World Series game.
The next time they greet the rap star, it may be in a much different arena. With discussions about Robinson Cano's next contract expected to accelerate shortly, the Yankees believe that Jay-Z will become a significant part of the negotiations.
"I look forward to meeting him," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday. "I've never met the man, really. I fully expect him to be part of this process in a significant way."
Cashman said that all discussions thus far have taken place with veteran agent Brodie Van Wagenen, who is affiliated with CAA Sports. That company agreed to a partnership with Jay-Z's newly-founded Roc Nation Sports earlier this year.
Cano jumped at the chance to join Roc Nation as its first baseball client, saying at the time that he believed the partnership would be able to help him both on and off the field.
Yankees president Randy Levine said that he would not be surprised if Jay-Z -- whose given name is Shawn Carter -- becomes a bigger part of the picture in the weeks to come.
"He's a pretty sophisticated guy," Levine said. "I think he knows how to handle himself. ... I've met Jay-Z, I know people in that organization. I'm sure they're competent to handle it, and CAA has been doing it for a long time."
Cashman said that he expects that the negotiations with Cano will be lengthy. Cano reportedly opened by asking for a 10-year, $305 million agreement, while the Yankees countered with an offer that is believed to have been closer to the eight-year, $138 million deal that David Wright signed with the Mets.
It is thought that the Yankees would be able to increase their offer to the $180-$200 million range in order to keep Cano in pinstripes, but Levine has already publicly stated that the club does not consider Cano to be a player that they must re-sign at all costs.
Cashman said on Wednesday that he must start attacking other portions of the Yankees' winter plan, because there likely won't be a speedy resolution to Cano's situation.
"Usually the big boys take a while; usually the big ones drag out," Cashman said. "I certainly don't expect anything in the near term. We just got to free agency. That's what [Cano] wanted, so now that he's here, I would think that he wouldn't end it soon."
Levine said that the Yankees have prepared for the possibility that Cano may no longer fit into their plans, noting that "we have Plan B, C and D in place." Cano may be the top second baseman in the game, but the Yankees also have other needs to attend to.
"This has to do with every player," Levine said. "I think the clock ticks on both sides. We're interested in a lot of players."
Cashman described his third full day at the General Managers Meetings as "a necessary trip" where some information-gathering has taken place, as well as meetings with various agents and other clubs.
"I think the Yankees are clearly in a place where they're out to improve their status from where they were a year ago, no question," said agent Scott Boras, who met with the Yankees on Wednesday.
The Yankees have been connected to big-ticket free agents like outfielders Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo, as well as catcher Brian McCann and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but Cashman has also been operating on the smaller scales of the market.
Cashman confirmed that he is interested in re-signing shortstop Brendan Ryan -- who played for the club in September -- as a backup option in case captain Derek Jeter has difficulty returning to his position.
And though the Yankees have stated that they have set their budget as though Alex Rodriguez will not be suspended for the 2014 season, the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday that the club has interest in trading for Cardinals third baseman David Freese. Cashman declined to comment on the report.
Speaking in general about his time at the meetings, Cashman said, "It's just a starting point. You've got to start somewhere. It's early in the process, but you've got to go through the motions."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.