The Major League Baseball Players Association is investigating reports that hip-hop-star-turned-sports-agent Jay-Z may have violated regulations governing the relationship between players and their representatives by presenting Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with expensive birthday gifts.
The story was first reported by ESPN. Cano is expected to be one of the top free agents on the market this offseason.
Among the gifts the founder of Roc Nation Sports Group allegedly gave Cano was a limited-edition (only 100 made) "Shawn Carter" Hublot watch valued at $34,000. The presentation was said to have been made at an Oct. 22 bash in Belgium.
That could be interpreted as a violation of this regulation: "No Player Agent or Applicant shall provide, cause to be provided or promise to provide, any money or any other thing of value to any player, or any person related to or associated with such player, the purpose of which is to induce or encourage such player to use or continue to use any person's or firm's services as a Player Agent, Representative, or Draft Advisor."
The purpose is to try to keep agents from attempting to recruit clients through "illegal inducements."
Cano, 31, is represented by both Roc Nation and Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Cano has been tendered a $14.1 million qualifying offer by the Yankees, but he's reportedly seeking a multiyear contract worth around $300 million after batting .314 with 27 homers, 107 RBIs and an .899 on-base plus slugging percentage. If Cano signs elsewhere, the Yankees will receive a compensatory Draft pick at the end of next June's first round.
As a matter of policy, the MLBPA does not comment on external reports.
Roc Nation also represents Jets quarterback Geno Smith, WNBA star Skylar Diggins and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.