ORLANDO, Fla. - Keeping Robinson Cano is priority No. 1 for the Yankees, and they're prepared to pay big money to do so. That they can control.
But, general manager Brian Cashman said, what remains out of the Yankees' hands is what other clubs might offer.
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"I think he loves the money [and] I think we're going to have a substantial offer, but somebody might come in and have a much more substantial offer,'' Cashman said yesterday after Day 2 of the GM meetings. "That's just the way it works.''
Speaking late Tuesday night, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said he expected more serious negotiations between the sides to take place "in the next week.''
The Yankees desperately want to avoid another long-term deal that handcuffs them financially -- such as Alex Rodriguez's albatross of a contract -- and have offered Cano seven years in the neighborhood of $170 million. Sources have said Cano's representatives asked for $300 million for 10 years, although the second baseman denied that during the final weekend of the season in Houston.
No market for Cano has developed beyond the Yankees -- if there's a mystery team or teams, none have emerged publicly -- but it is early in a process the club expects to be a long one. "It's the beginning of the process,'' Steinbrenner said.
Cash is plentiful in the game and teams have been spending it in record numbers in recent years. The big contracts, ones that Cashman described as eliciting "Holy cow!'' moments, occur on a yearly basis, and Cano very well could land one.
"He's in free agency and that's the feeling I get,'' Cashman said of Cano's decision coming down solely to money. "Doesn't make it wrong at all. That's what makes the U.S. the greatest place in the world. We just have to compete for that. I feel very comfortable that we'll firmly compete for the player, but the value we put on him, the value someone else puts on him could be vastly different, and if it is, we'll lose him.''
There are other concerns besides Cano. Among them: The rotation's need for at least two pitchers and the questions about the left side of the infield.
"We have a lot of concerns,'' said Steinbrenner, who later acknowledged the team's interest in Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka. "We're going to leave no stone unturned.''
And he reiterated what he's said this offseason -- cutting payroll to $189 million won't come "at the expense of fielding a championship-caliber team.''
"We know what the fans expect of us,'' Steinbrenner added. "We're going to field the best team we can every year. Is it a goal? It's absolutely a goal, but not at the expense of the other.''
Juan Uribe an option? The Yankees, looking for insurance on the left side because of the uncertainty with Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, are interested in Juan Uribe and met with his agent, Barry Praver, yesterday. Uribe, 34, can play second, third and short. He played 123 games at third last season for the Dodgers, hitting .278 with a .331 OBP, 12 homers and 50 RBIs. Among other infield options that interest the Yankees are shortstops Stephen Drew, Jhonny Peralta and Brendan Ryan. Cashman said players involved in the Biogenesis scandal -- Peralta is one example -- won't be excluded from consideration.
"We have a lot of holes to fill, so we're going to have to explore every option available to us,'' he said. "We'll certainly have to be open-minded.''