TAMPA, Fla. -- While far from his intent, Brian Cashman broke news on the Robinson Cano front Thursday when he told reporters that Cano has been offered a contract extension.
"We've made a significant offer," the Yankees' general manager said Thursday afternoon. "That's what I thought Hal said to everybody."
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But what managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Feb. 19 to three news organization, including Newsday, was that the Yankees had told Cano's agent, Scott Boras, earlier in the winter that "we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract," not that an actual offer was made.
Cashman declined to say whether the offer was rejected, though that would be the safe assumption.
"I'll just stand with what I said," Cashman said. "I'm not going to comment anymore. I thought Hal announced that we had made a significant offer and we've had a few conversations. I thought I was restating Hal's stuff. If I said a little more, that's all I'm saying."
Boras did not immediately return an email seeking comment, but the agent told cbssports.com late Thursday afternoon: "Robinson is focused on preparing for and playing the 2013 season. By agreement, discussions shall remain confidential. Also by agreement, discussions will cease if they are a distraction to Robinson's performance and leadership of the 2013 Yankees."
The widespread belief in the industry is that Boras is looking to get an eight- to 10-year deal in the range of $20 million-plus per season for Cano. The Yankees' offer likely wasn't in that stratosphere.
More than a few voices in the Yankees' organization are wary of any commitment of more than six years for the 30-year-old Cano, who at 37 or 38 likely won't have nearly the range in the field that he does now.
Speaking to reporters Feb. 8, Steinbrenner said of Cano: "He's obviously been a great Yankee and I hope he's here his entire career."
But it has long been thought that Cano, playing on a $15-million club option this season, will hit the open market regardless of any discussions taking place with the Yankees. Boras doesn't give hometown discounts, and although Cano repeatedly has stated his desire to stay with the Yankees, he has plenty of incentive to explore the market.
The Dodgers have spent profusely during the last year and are poised by 2014 to overtake the Yankees for highest payroll in the game. Other teams such as the Angels, Blue Jays and Nationals recently have flexed financial muscle of their own.
The Yankees have softened the tone of their language on the topic, but they still have it as a goal to bring their payroll to $189 million by 2014 to avoid a big luxury tax bill.
The offer to Cano is another example of making an exception to their oft-discussed policy of not giving extensions before contracts are up. They did so last spring with Russell Martin -- making a three-year offer to the catcher, who was entering the final year of his deal -- and again with Cano.
"Since we're the team, we have a right to change our minds and adjust the policy whenever, especially ownership," Cashman said. "It's not like it's a country club, and here's the code of conduct that you can't deviate from. We've had a history of doing things a certain way, but it doesn't mean that it has to be that way every day."