Yankees awaiting response from Cano
Levine: We're not interested in giving 10-year contracts or paying $300 million
NEW YORK -- Unless Robinson Cano budges off his demands for a decade-long deal that would surpass $300 million, there will be nothing further for the Yankees to discuss with the All-Star second baseman, team president Randy Levine said on Tuesday.
Levine said that Cano's representatives, which include music mogul Jay-Z and veteran agent Brodie Van Wagenen, have been sticking to their objective of scoring a record-setting 10-year contract for the star free agent.
"We want Robbie to come back," Levine said in a telephone conversation. "We value him. We think he's an important piece of the New York Yankees. We've made him a very, very competitive offer. We hope he strongly considers it. We'd like him to lead the Yankees for years to come, and that offer reflects it.
"But they're still at 10 years and $300 million, and we're not interested in giving anybody 10-year contracts or paying any player $300 million. I think right now we're just waiting for them to come back to us."
The Yankees' offer to Cano, a five-time All-Star who will turn 31 next season is believed to be for seven years in the range of $150 million to $170 million. Cano's side is thought to be attempting to eclipse Alex Rodriguez's deal with New York, which was for 10 years and $275 million, plus a possible $30 million in incentives.
Levine said that there has been no breakdown in communications between Cano's representatives and the Yanks.
"We've been talking to them straight through," Levine said. "It's not that we haven't been talking; we've been talking. But right now they're over $300 [million], and we are where we are. Right now, there's really no reason to talk until they come off that number."
In the meantime, Cano's representatives are gauging the market outside the Bronx. On Tuesday, Jay-Z and Wagenen held a meeting with a contingent of Mets officials, including chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco.
It figures to be a long shot to actually see Cano changing boroughs. Alderson said at last week's GM Meetings that he could not see the Mets giving out another $100 million contract, saying that team captain David Wright's eight-year, $138 million pact had come under "special circumstances."
That did not stop the tabloid from using Photoshop to paint Cano into Mets orange and blue, creating a back-cover vision that Levine said did not affect the Yankees' front office.
"That has zero impact on us. We understand the process," Levine said. "He and Jay-Z and Brodie are well within their purview to try and create a market and do whatever they can. That kind of stuff has zero impact on us. We know what we're prepared to do, and whatever anybody else does really is irrelevant."
Van Wagenen said in an interview with Sirius/XM's MLB Network Radio over the weekend that he has fielded interest from teams about Cano, who batted .314 with 27 home runs and 107 RBIs in 160 games for the Yanks in 2013.
"At this point, he is open to exploring a number of those situations while also keeping a respectful eye on what the Yankees' future looks like as well," Van Wagenen said. "He's absolutely looking for an opportunity to create a partnership with his new team."
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has spoken openly about his desire to reduce payroll below $189 million for the 2014 season. The Yanks are expected to have a considerable amount of money to spend this winter, but the funds are not unlimited.
Levine said that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is preparing for potential moves with other free agents -- the club has been linked in media reports to a variety of players, including catcher Brian McCann, outfielders Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, and infielders Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta.
The Yankees are also believed to be heavily interested in making a run at Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, whose availability via the posting process is being sorted out between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball.
If those pieces start coming off the board, it makes sense that the expenditures could wind up reducing the amount of Cano's next offer.
"[Cashman] is engaged with five or six other free agents, and if guys are ready to make deals, we'll make deals with those," Levine said. "Obviously, the more we spend on other free agents, the less money is [available] for the remaining guys."